Martin Starr is really good at what he does on ‘Silicon Valley’

John P. Fleenor/HBO

Silicon Valley Sunday at 10 p.m., HBO

One of the pleasures of “Silicon Valley” — and there are many of them — is watching Martin Starr, who plays Bertram Gilfoyle, generally known as just Gilfoyle.

He has been having a fantastic season, chiming in with sarcastic zingers in every episode and playing fierce games of pride chess with Dinesh. He has a remarkably calm, but also quite expressive, deadpan that can make even his silences funny. He’s a social outsider, and he takes full advantage of that position.


I sometimes wonder if I’m enjoying him so much here — as I did on “Party Down” — because of my undying fandom of “Freaks and Geeks.” On that one-season great, Starr played one of the most endearing characters, Bill Haverchuck, the tall, skinny geek with thick glasses. In one of the show’s most poignant scenes, a sad Bill sits alone eating dinner in front of the TV, his “Empire Strikes Back” glass at hand, until he finds comfort and laughter watching Garry Shandling. For this latchkey kid, television is his parent, his friend, his place to be himself.

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Having watched Starr grow up, it’s hard not to feel supportive of his current work. And you can see a direct line between who Bill was and who Gilfoyle is.

But no, I enjoy him on “Silicon Valley” simply because he’s just really good at what he does. And he is surrounded by an ensemble that gets better with each season, including, of course, T.J. Miller’s grandiose Erlich and Zach Woods’s Jared.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.