Mike Judge draws on previous career — and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ — to inspire ‘Silicon Valley’

• First season of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is headed for DVD.

• Creator Mike Judge compares his series to “A Clockwork Orange.”

• Judge worked as a Silicon Valley engineer before embarking on his current career; his work includes the feature film “Office Space.”


“Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season,” the HBO series about the cutthroat world of computer technology, hits stores Tuesday, March 31. Not only can you get caught up with the comedy about a group of guys trying to win their way to fame and LOTS of fortunes through a tech competition, but you can see why series creator Mike Judge compares his work to “A Clockwork Orange.”

No, there’s not a lot of gratuitous violence in the cable series. The biggest fights in “Silicon Valley” are over who is making the biggest advancements when it comes to computer technology (unless you count the one fistfight started by a jealous husband).

The comparison is to the complicated language used in both. When Anthony Burgess wrote “A Clockwork Orange,” he created a long list of new words for his characters. Judge uses techno-speak in “Silicon Valley,” but in many ways, it seems just as alien.

“I watched ‘Clockwork Orange’ so many times when I was writing ‘Idiocracy’ and trying to understand more about changing language. I knew there would be a lot of language in ‘Silicon Valley’ that people wouldn’t understand. What I realized is that even if the language seems alien, there must always be some kind of emotional and story point to keep the audience watching,” Judge says.

What he used to keep viewers watching is the story of Richard (Thomas Middleditch), an introverted computer programmer who lives with his friends Big Head (Josh Brener), Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani). Their lives are almost as complicated as the code they are writing.

It worked: The first season drew strong enough ratings to earn a second season. It also was nominated for five Emmy Awards including Best Comedy Series. All eight episodes of that first season are in the DVD release.

Long before Judge became famous for creating “Beavis and Butt-head” and “King of the Hill,” Judge worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley in the late ’80s. He worked for companies that worked on the automatic test systems for the F-18 fighter jet, made interfaces for the first high-definition screens and made bass and guitar amps.

Judge didn’t write down any of his experiences working in that world but it was during that time he started thinking about becoming a writer. He’s sure some of the elements of the series come from things he experienced while working in that world.

Judge also compares “Silicon Valley” to his feature film “Office Space.” The two are bookends to his views about the corporate world, cubicles and insecure people.

“I think if the people in ‘Office Space’ had been born 15 years later, they would be the guys in ‘Silicon Valley,’ ” Judge says.

He sees a little of himself in the business side of “Silicon Valley” — he understands what it’s like to have made a successful product and have companies fighting for his ideas.