THE LEAGUE: THE COMPLETE SEASON FOUR
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Mark Duplass as PETE ECKHART
Stephan Rannazzisi as KEVIN MCARTHUR
Nick Kroll as RODNEY RUXIN
Paul Scheer as ANDRE NOWZIC
Jon Lajoie as TACO MCARTHUR
Katie Aselton as JENNY MCARTHUR
Jason Mantzoukas as RAFI
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by: Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer
BY KEVIN CARR
Like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which just moved to FXX from FX as well, “The League” is a show about horrible people. However, it’s a show that’s also wildly entertaining because I love seeing nasty things happen to horrible people.
I’ve said in previous reviews of this series that I am bewildered by my affinity for it, considering I don’t give a diddly damn about football of any kind. In fact, I am so disinterested in football that most of the high-profile cameos and related jokes in “The League” fly completely over my head.
But that’s okay, because while “The League” is technically about a group of friends battling it out every year in a fantasy football league, it’s really about a group of friends who constantly abuse each other and engage in raunchy shenanigans.
This season starts with the Jenny (Katie Aselton) and Kevin (Stephan Rannazzisi) welcoming the birth of their child, whose naming rights fall onto Taco (Jon Lajoie). The resulting name is awesome and also indicative of the irreverence of the show. During this year’s Shiva Bowl continues around a mix of the characters’ dating lives and married lives, which is where I can relate.
Side characters like Shiva herself show up again, as does Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas) in the most inappropriate ways possible. Like previous seasons, “The League” doesn’t get bogged down in the minutia of football. Instead, it presents over-the-top characters who are dealing with various issues in their daily life, with football as an escape.
Subjects covered this season include adultery, colonoscopies, charity, being handicapped and the pressures of wanting (or, rather, not wanting) a new baby. Even the shows that feature football in the forefront (like the appropriately-named episode “The Tailgate”) have plenty of general humor to keep me interested.
Partly improvised, “The League” is filled with zingers from the actors, particularly Nick Kroll, who is highlighted quite a bit in the “Alt Nation” special feature. It is this biting wit that keeps the show fresh, spreading around the abuse to everyone in the league (and not just Andre, which would be tempting but eventually too cruel even for this show).
Like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the success of “The League” has allowed it to expand a bit and feature more guest stars and more impressive locations. I’m not jazzed by the football locations, but I’m sure a significant portion of the show’s audience is. Same goes for the guest stars. However, being afforded these expenditures brings the show to a greater level than if it were just taking place in bars and people’s living rooms.
The original programming on FX (and now FXX) can blow hot or cold for me, and everywhere in between. However, shows like “The League” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” will keep me tuned into the channel at least once a week.
The season four DVD set comes with all 13 episodes on two discs. There are some good special features, including extended episodes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and the aforementioned “Alt Nation” featuring alternative takes on the show’s zingers.
Additional features include a musical number from “Taco Tones” about Pete’s penis, the “Witchy Woman Podcast” and the wildly uncomfortably inappropriate (but very funny) rape defense video “Rafi’s Helpful Holiday Hints.”