HBO puts up first episode of 'Silicon Valley' for free on YouTube

Missed the first episode of Silicon Valley? Fear not. 

TJ Miller plays the head of a start-up incubator in this still from the first episode of Silicon Valley.

"Silicon Valley" is a new comedy from Mike Judge, the animator and screenwriter behind "Beavis and Butthead" and "Office Space," among various other properties.

And at least for the time being, the entire first episode, which premiered on Sunday, after "Game of Thrones," is available on HBO's YouTube page, free of charge

HBO pursued a similar strategy with the first two episodes of the third season of "Girls," and it's not hard to see why: Dangle enough bait in front of viewers, and pretty soon, they're likely to be hooked. (Alas, HBO has not yet posted any full episodes of its topsy-turvy, darkly weird police procedural, "True Detective.") 

The star of "Silicon Valley" is Richard Hendrix, a shambling programmer played by Thomas Middleditch. As the show opens, Mr. Hendrix is working at a tech incubator overseen by a self-important entrepreneur named Bachman (T.J. Miller), and attempting to get his music-recognition software off the ground. When the big investors start circling the project, the plot takes off. 

And for the most part, critics have dished out high praise to Mr. Judge and his crew.

"Silicon Valley has a strong cast that can pull off all kinds of comedy," writes Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter. "It has tech lust, which so many of us swim in, for a starting point. And it has consistently funny writing. It's the best, most wide-appeal show that HBO has had in ages. Now the channel will just need to find out if any of the people it will appeal to are subscribers."

Not that everyone is enamored.

In a takedown over at Slate, David Auerbach argues that "Silicon Valley" traffics in generalities, rather than the particulars of geek culture that would have given the satire a real edge. 

"Office Space resonated with people because it nailed many of the tiny details of office life, and you could tell Judge knew them well," Mr. Auerbach writes. "Reusing that same job experience for Silicon Valley, rather than actually investigating tech culture, smacks of laziness. Judge didn’t do his research when parodying lefties in his awful bomb The Goode Family, and he didn’t do it here."

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