Fox // 2010 // 544 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // October 24th, 2011
"Oh, Pete, I'm gonna tear into your lineup. I feel like Jessica Tandy in Fried Green Tomatoes...without the lesbian stuff."
I really like The League. It's by no means a great show, but it is a consistently funny one with a fantastic ensemble, and it's fun to hang out with. There are a number of better sitcoms on TV right now, but few that are as dependably enjoyable. The League rarely lets me down, probably because it has its sights set low to begin with.
The series, which airs on FX (and therefore is allowed to be "edgier" than normal sitcoms), centers on a group of friends in Chicago (so clearly not Chicago) who belong to an eight-team fantasy football league. That's pretty much it; each season of the show means the same for football, with each episode a different week in the season. It's a pretty loose framework on which to hang a TV series, and The League has no illusions about that. Mostly, it's about a group of guys (and one girl) hanging out and finding different ways to make fun of/mess with one another. The fantasy football stuff is pretty much incidental at this point -- in fact, it tends to slow down the show's momentum, as though everyone gets a good groove going and then has to stop and remember it's a comedy about sports. I'm sure there are plenty of fantasy football fans who would disagree with me, and who watch The League specifically for the sports content (just as I am sure there are a lot of fantasy football fans who are frustrated by everything the show gets wrong, the way I used to watch The Big Bang Theory). For me, it's like a hook that the series has already outgrown.
Here are the episodes that make up The League: The Complete Season Two:
* "Vegas Draft"
* "Bro-Lo El Cunado"
* "The White Knuckler"
* "The Kluneberg"
* "The Marathon"
* "The Anniversary Party"
* "Ghost Monkey"
* "The Tie"
* "The Expert Witness"
* "High School Reunion"
* "Ramona Neopolitano"
* "Kegel the Elf"
* "The Sacko Bowl"
Like the majority of sitcoms in their sophomore years, The League has only gotten better in Season Two. The characters are even better developed, and the ensemble is even tighter. There's really not a weak link in the bunch, though it could be argued that Jon LaJoie's Taco exists on a different show; The League takes place in recognizable reality, but Taco doesn't live there. I recognize that's the joke of the character, but it doesn't quite work. LaJoie is not to blame. Season Two also sees the addition of Jason Mantzoukas's (Baby Mama) Rafi, a horrible human being who gets laughs every time he's on screen. Still, many of the same problems present in season one haven't yet been worked out. While writer/director/mumblecore founder Mark Duplass remains one of my favorite actors on the show, his Pete still isn't much of a character -- he's just the resident smartass. At times, the episodes strain too hard to pull all of the various story threads together the way that Seinfeld used to do so well, and there's a tendency to do too many variations on the same joke as though the editors couldn't decided which one to use and instead just kept them all. But these are minor complaints, because the show is consistently funny and fun to watch.
The League continues to look good in HD, with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer that's bright and bold and solid. Detail is strong throughout, skin tones look natural and the overall quality represents an improvement over season one. The DTS-HD audio track isn't called upon to do much, but handles what is required of it very well: dialogue is clear and the (brief) theme music packs a punch. Being that the whole show has kind of a low-fi charm, the Blu-ray looks and sounds good enough that it's actually overkill in some ways. Still, it's nice to view the show the best way possible, and this disc allows for precisely that.
In addition to the option to view "extended" versions of several episodes, The League: The Complete Season Two comes with a modest but not terrible offering of bonus material. There are roughly ten minutes of deleted scenes included, which offer exactly the same kind of laughs as are present in the show and were likely just cut for time. Perhaps more enjoyable is a compilation of alternate jokes improvised by the cast (a good deal of the show is improvised), many of which are funnier than what made it in but couldn't be used because they're way too dirty. A gag reel is also amusing, once again demonstrating that watching funny people make mistakes is generally more entertaining than not-funny people, if only because they know how to build on the error. An option called "Taco Tones" allows for the viewer to jump right to Jon LaJoie's songs, which basically play out like music videos. They're funny enough, but always feel way too produced and out of place, especially given the way that LaJoie's character has been written; they're shoehorned in because, you know, LaJoie is known for writing funny songs. A five-minute faux commercial for Taco's notary business goes way past overstaying its welcome. Lastly, there's a bit with Paul Scheer doing a Bob Ross impression and showing how to paint a "Kluneberg." It has very little to do with the show, but it's a funny diversion and a chance for Scheer to be silly.
If you're not already watching The League, it's not too late to jump in. The show just started its third season on FX, and while a new viewer could easily get on board now and be able to follow along, I would suggest going back and watching the first two seasons. If nothing else, it will provide a lot of background and explain many of the recurring gags. It may never be more than a cult comedy, but that's part of its charm. It's like a big inside joke that a lot of people happen to watch.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 544 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Episodes
* Deleted Scenes
* Alternate Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Music Videos
* Official Site