A would-be cousin to fellow FX comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League attempts to capture a similar brand of anarchic, “anything goes” humor, but it feels a little like the folks involved are trying too hard. Then again, this first season only consists of six episodes. It’s over before it even really gets a chance to get going, so I’m not ready to write it off just yet.
It’s in the show’s favor that its ostensible subject matter — a fantasy football league run by a group of underwhelming armchair quarterbacks — doesn’t overtake the show or become its sole source of jokes. Just look at The Big Bang Theory and see how that “hey, geeks!” comedic strategy works out.
A lot of the jokes don’t land — the series features a good deal of improvisation, which is both its greatest strength and weakness — but the comedic talents of guys like Paul Scheer as Andre and Stephen Rannazzisi as Kevin help sell some of the more questionable bits.
Rounding out the cast are mumblecore king Mark Duplass as the recently separated Pete, Nick Kroll as the henpecked Ruxin, Jon Lajoie as the slacker Taco, who is Kevin’s brother and Katie Aselton as Kevin’s wife, Jenny, the real brains behind his team.
Many of the episodes follow a similar pattern, with the men’s female counterparts being a big drag, aside from Jenny, who is the only one who can just be one of the guys. It’s the same casual misogyny that’s plagued Judd Apatow’s work from the beginning. Truly, everyone’s a caricature in The League though, which is pretty much inevitable when most bits are dependent upon whatever witty or sufficiently vulgar improvisation pops up first.
So, why is it still worth giving a chance to? Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Andre’s clueless Ed Hardy-modeled fashion sense or Taco’s sociological theories. Six episodes just doesn’t seem like enough content on which to judge a show that’s basically throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks.
The Blu-ray Disc
The League is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Everything fits on one 50GB disc. This is hardly a show that screams out for the need to be in high def, but it’s a nice enough visual presentation, with good sharpness and clarity and excellent color consistency. It all has a very natural look.
There’s not too much to say about the 5.1 DTS-HD track, which relies almost exclusively on the front channels. Dialogue is clear without any issues.
Fans of the show will be pleased with the fairly abundant amount of bonus material — even if it all essentially amounts to alternate improv riffs. Bloopers, deleted scenes and alternate jokes follow a similar path, while bits on 3 Penis Wine, vaginal hubris, an inappropriate children’s birthday song, pubic hair joints, Andre’s fashion sense and a big, fluffy cartoon character are all expansions of jokes that exist in the episodes. Also, for those interested in FX’s animated series Archer, the pilot is included.
All six episodes also feature an extended cut alongside the originals. Each runs about several minutes longer.
The Bottom Line
This first season seems more like a teaser than anything, although it seems unlikely the show will ever achieve anything great.