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TV Review: The League – “The Lockout”

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FX’s sitcom The League has returned. In “The Lockout,” Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is still swaggering from his win, motivating the others to cheat when it comes to draft order. Only Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) feels guilty, and the others pressure him to stay quiet. Jenny (Katie Aselton), Pete (Mark Duplass), and Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) all experiment with training Kevin. The guys continue to punish Andre (Paul Scheer) for his loss last year, including letting Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas) and Dirty Randy (Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet, Knock Up) shoot a porno in Andre’s apartment.

This series is hilarious, and the season three premiere is very welcome. It takes no time at all to get back into the mindset of the group, who are all friends, but pick on each other mercilessly, and will stoop to low levels to win their fantasy football league. Even half an hour into the season, it is clear that Jenny is finally a full-fledged equal, something she struggles with previously. Again, awesome, because Aselton is hot AND funny, and her character can be more masculine than a couple of the guys. Plus, she has sex that she can use as a weapon, something the others lack.

Ruxin and Andre are the most frequent dumped on-ers, being singled out as the weak members of the pack. Kevin is kind, but Jenny and Pete can be pretty cruel. Yet, there is some reason that they all stick together. After all, there are out-of-town members of The League, and they aren’t missed or included in any of the events. Instead, no matter how much one individual might have to take some crap, there is a deep affection between them all.

Training Kevin is a very humorous subplot. Pete catches Jenny using a dog training book to do so, and reveals he has already been conditioning Jenny’s husband for years, a fact easily proven. But no on expects Taco to be telling the truth when he claims to have high-notized him (that’s hypnotized while high). Yet, Taco’s tactics save the day when Kevin finally breaks and is ready to confess their shenanigans to Ruxin.

Dirty Randy is a character oft talked about, but not seen, until now. Casting Rogen is a stroke of genius. Not only does he have the gravitas of having done many comedy films, but he is also good at weird television characters, as proven in his roles on Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks. The actor is definitely having fun in the offbeat role of porn location scout and director. He channels a little of his Zack and Miri Make a Porno character, making Dirty Randy familiar, but still fresh.

What is likely to happen after “The Lockout” ends, with the computer doing random picks while the gang is locked out of the apartment / porn set, is that they will confess their prank to Ruxin, allowing a total do-over. This should satisfy everyone, even Andre, who, secluded and unaware of the situation, is dumb enough to think that the computer’s terrible selections are brilliant moves by his competitors. This twist will not take away from the funniness of the premiere, but still allow the characters to have some control. After all, how much fun can it be picking on someone for things that are not actually their fault?

Watch The League Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on FX.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com