Review: VALLEY OF THE BOOM Is Innovation At Its Most Entertaining


Valley of the Boom is a fun, well-made, and informative television series. Its high level of energy may put some off, but will enchant most.
Technical Merit

Valley of the Boom is a new docudrama series from creator Matthew Carnahan. It blends scripted and documentary elements, taking a look at Silicon Valley in the 1990s during the tech boom. The show focuses on three of the biggest companies at the time: Netscape,, and Pixelon.

Technology has always been interesting (albeit a bit hard to understand), and this series takes advantage of that to create one of the most captivating television experiences you will ever see. Not only is it informative and relevant, but it is also extremely humorous and entertaining. Much like what The Big Short did with the crash, this series uses comedy to make the information more palatable and easy to understand for the audience.

There is a character, Darrin, played by Lamorne Morris (Game Night) that serves this purpose. He is an omniscient narrator that breaks the fourth wall frequently and interacts with the other players in the story even though he claims not to exist. This aspect of the show doesn’t entirely make sense, but it works nonetheless because it is one of the most interesting parts.

valley of the boom andreessen
John Karna as Marc Andreessen during photo shoot for Time in National Geographic’s VALLEY OF THE BOOM. (National Geographic/Bettina Strauss).

The largest of the three storylines is about Netscape, one of the early web browsers in the time before browsers came pre-installed on computers. It makes sense that this story dominated a majority of the series because it is perhaps the most important of the three companies. The characters in this segment are the most exciting and complex. It is particularly interesting to go into the mind of founder Marc Andreessen.

The actors in these segments stand out, as they nail the emotional and comedic beats of the script. John Karna, who plays Andreessen, delivers an interestingly ambiguous performance. He does an outstanding job of capturing the mysterious qualities of the character. Bradley Whitford gives a great turn as James Barksdale, CEO of the company, especially when he is tasked with giving wise advice. Comparing the delivery to that of the actual Barksdale (who was interviewed for the show) is fascinating.

The second largest storyline is likely that of Considered to be a precursor to Facebook, was an early social networking site that aimed to use the internet as a means of connecting people. This story is interesting, but perhaps the least involving of the three. The story of the founders of is similar to others we have seen before.

valley of the boom globe
(Left to right) Dakota Shapiro and Oliver Cooper as Co-founders Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman in National Geographic’s VALLEY OF THE BOOM. (National Geographic/Ed Araquel).

However, the segments about do have one significant benefit: the main players in the story were interviewed for the show (Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman). This allows the audience to see not only the scripted portion attempting to do justice to the founders’ perspective but also their actual perspective. This means that this portion is likely the closest to the truth. Marc Andreessen (Netscape) and Michael Fenne (Pixelon) were not interviewed.

Hands down the craziest portion of the Valley of the Boom is the story of Pixelon. Pixelon was a company that aimed to improve video streaming over the internet. It is hard to describe without going into spoilers, but this is an example of a story that is so weird that it has to be true. It is baffling how oblivious to the truth all of the players in this situation were.

Steve Zahn is the absolute highlight of the Pixelon storyline. He is pitch-perfect as Pixelon founder David Fenne, capturing the weird and crazy aspects of the character excellently. Zahn steals the screen, with some of the funniest moments. His portrayal of Fenne is undeniably one of the best performances of Zahn’s career, and even deserves awards recognition.

valley of the boom fenne
Steve Zahn as conman turned dot com founder Michael Fenne in National Geographic’s VALLEY OF THE BOOM. (National Geographic/Bettina Strauss).

The execution of this series is what will divide critics and audiences. It is hectic, but that seems to be the point. Valley of the Boom is trying to show the chaos of the tech boom, and as such, it fits that the series is extremely chaotic. The series cuts between the three stories frequently, but it isn’t distracting at all. Valley of the Boom also contains metaphors that are hilarious and meaningful but may be off-putting to some.

Overall, Valley of the Boom is a fascinating docudrama series. It harnesses the chaos of Silicon Valley to provide an informative and humor-filled viewing experience.

Valley of the Boom debuts on National Geographic on January 13. Two episodes air every Sunday at 9 pm ET. The first two episodes are available on their website now. (All six episodes were reviewed.)


‘Play the Game’ Ep. 3 Preview | Power Book II: Ghost | STARZ

Tariq struggles with the weight of providing for his mother’s mounting legal defense while juggling the rigors of Ivy League life. Don’t miss an all-new episode of #PowerGhost this Sunday on #STARZ. #PowerGhost #PowerBook2 #PowerNeverEnds #STARZ Subscribe to the STARZ YouTube Channel for more Power: Get your special offer of the STARZ app:…

Star Trek: Lower Decks – Anatomy Of A Scene – Ep. 6, “Terminal Provocations”

Follow an episode's path from ideation all the way through storyboarding, animatics, and final animation with Star Trek: Lower Decks Creator, Showunner and Executive Producer Mike McMahan. Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access. Subscribe To "CBS All Access" Channel HERE: For more…

La Révolution | Official Trailer | Netflix

In a reimagined history of the French Revolution, the guillotine's future inventor uncovers a disease that drives the aristocracy to murder commoners. SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of…

Star Trek Day 2020 | Tawny Newsome’s Favorite Parts Of Lower Decks Include Jack Ransom

It can be tough realizing you're attracted to an animated Star Trek commander. Tawny Newsome (Beckett Mariner) jokes that the animators need to "tone it down" for Season 2. Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access. Star Trek: Lower Decks airs in Canada on…

Archer | Nope | FXX

Yup. Nope. Yuuuuup. Nooooope. Archer returns for an all-new season 9/16 on FXX – Next day FX on Hulu. Subscribe now for more Archer clips: In season 11 of FXX‘s comedy Archer, “Sterling Archer“ is ready to return to the spy world after a three-year coma. While many things changed during his absence, Archer…

Nocturne – Official Trailer

#WelcomeToTheBlumhouse #Nocturne Movie Nocturne is written and directed by Zu Quirke in her breakout feature debut. Starring Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria, The Handmaid’s Tale, Player’s Table), Madison Iseman (Jumanji: The Next Level, Annabelle Comes Home), Jacques Colimon (The Society) and Ivan Shaw (Insecure, Casual). Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student…

Daniel Vs. Johnny Debate: Who’s The REAL Bad Guy? | Cobra Kai | Netflix

Ralph Macchio & William Zabka team up to answer your biggest Karate Kid question - Who’s the real bad guy in Cobra Kai? Let us know what you think, down in the comments! Watch Cobra Kai, Only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million…
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here