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TV Review: The League – “Training Camp”

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Written by Todd Karella

The fourth season of The League, the popular FX channel show about a group of friends with an incredibly unhealthy obsession with their fantasy football league, kicked off tonight.

The Season Four’s premiere picks up about eight months after the Season Three finale, as Jenny (Katie Aselton) is due to give birth at any time. In that previous episode, she announced her pregnancy having spent the entire football season arguing with her husband, Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi), about having another child and only willing to concede her argument if his football team won the Shiva Bowl.

While Kevin did end up winning the Shiva Bowl last year, fellow league member Ruxin (Nick Kroll) found out the others had cheated him out of his first-place position in the draft. In retaliation he burned the Shiva Trophy, all other league paraphernalia, and declared the entire season null and void.

In order to keep his title as champion, Kevin agrees to let Ruxin take his place as League Commissioner, and unbeknownst to Jenny, the naming rights of his newborn son as well. Along with this agreement, Pete’s (Mark Duplass) role of Sacko Commissioner has been suspended and now he can no longer torment the loser of the previous season. So he gives himself the title of Custodian of the Hall of Records, which basically allows him to harass everyone by posting embarrassing facts and photos of other league members on the league’s website.

But Pete’s shenanigans are upstaged by Taco’s (Jonathan Lajoie) latest get-rich scheme. His latest idea is singing cowboys. What else could be better than a singing cowboy with an acoustic guitar serenading people to lift their spirits or deliver bad news in a more soothing manner. And to promote his new business endeavor, the clueless Taco purchases a web domain that just became available DallasCowboys.com. Immediately, he receives a call from Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner, who offers to fly him and his friends to training camp in order to discuss a business proposition.

Once again, this zany football-obsessed show starts off with an over-the-top episode filled with actual NFL players. Robert Griffin III shows up in a draft-related Ruxin fantasy while Jason Witten and Felix Jones of the Cowboys introduce the guys to training camp and come up with a unique way for them to decide who gets first draft pick.

Even though this premiere episode is just as crazy and wildly funny as it usually is, it’s hard not to compare it to the first episode from season three, which featured an arrogant commissioner Ruxin, who creates a Shiva Bowl Shuffle video with the help of actual members of his fantasy team, and a cameo from Seth Rogan as a porn director. But in a head-to-head competition the season three opener edges out season four’s in a close overtime win.

The League airs Thursdays at 10:30pm on FX.

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