It's that time of year again. The hot summer breezes give way to the fall chill. People all over America flock to football stadiums to watch their favorite college and professional football teams. That's right, it's time for fantasy football.
'The League' premiered on FX last year and follows a group of guys hell-bent on destroying much of what is good in their lives in order to be crowned king of their fantasy football league.
People get crazy about fantasy football, it's a fact. These guys take it to the extreme, sacrificing marriages, relationships with their kids, girlfriends, jobs, and just about everything else to beat each other. They use real-life blackmail to facilitate trades. Their one goal is to crush each other every week, when they're pitted against one another in a fantasy contest of epic proportions.
'The League' has a hilarious premise, and for the six episodes of the first season, it pulls it off pretty well. Mark Duplass ('Baghead' and 'Cyrus') is Pete, the three-time champion of the league. Before the league begins he announces his superiority over a video message chat to his fantasy football brethren. Pete is not going to be beat this year. Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is a defense attorney who is finding it increasingly hard to get his wife to have sex with him. Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) is the league commissioner, but everyone is wise to the fact that Kevin's wife Jenny (Katie Aselton) is the real manager of his team. Andre (Paul Scheer) is a plastic surgeon who doesn't really understand football and ends up being duped into trades for injured or retired players. Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) is the pot smoking moron of the bunch, and doesn't really ever remember that he's actually in a fantasy football league.
Together this group of guys harasses each other non-stop for six half-hour episodes, while they battle for the Shiva Trophy. The Shiva Trophy is a hodge-podge mix of trinkets and emblems glued to a giant trophy that is awarded to the winner every year.
The show feels like 'Reno 911,' as it seems as though the actors are more or less improvising their lines. I like this aspect of the show. I made it feel more real, and it also provides some hilarious and unexpected one-liners.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked this show. The downfall is that the guys talk as much about each other's genitals than they do about football. The "dong" jokes get a little old after a while, but the series does indeed capture the absolute nuttiness that goes on in the brains of people who play fantasy sports. I can attest to this because I'm one of those people. I don't have a close group of friends like this that I play with, but I've met people so obsessed with winning their fantasy league that they'll do just anything.
Six episodes seems a little rushed though. You can easily watch the first season of 'The League' in one sitting. I did.
If you're into fantasy football (or any fantasy sports for that matter) you should check out 'The League.' It's funny, vulgar, and everything a group of fantasy sports fans would want in a TV show about their beloved hobby.
'The League' features a rather nice, strongly detailed, 1080p presentation on Blu-ray. The entire season is packed onto one disc, but that's not really a problem seeing as the season is only six episodes, and they're all only 22 – 25 minutes long. 'The League' is filmed in the same handheld style as shows like 'The Office' and 'Arrested Development.' Because of that there are times where lighting is never exact and whites during outside scenes seem to get a bit out of control. Keep in mind this is just a product of how the show is filmed.
For the most part 'The League' looks great, with fine, even detail throughout. Textures like Taco's fur-lined hoodie, to patterns like Ruxin's plaid shirts are clear and concise. Colors stand out too, giving the show a rich, warm color palette to keep our eyes entertained. Skintones are perfect, and when you have beauties like Katie Aselton and Nadine Velazquez ('My Name is Earl') you'd better be getting skintones just right. Being a down-to-earth comedy without the extra frills that might be found in an action show, I did notice a few moments where aliasing was a bother – on ties with lines, books in the background on a book shelf, and Kevin's hair – but noise stayed at a minimum and the entire picture looks very clean throughout. 'The League' looks good. Fans of the show should be excited to see this one on Blu-ray.
'The League' sports a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that does exactly what it's supposed to do, nothing more, nothing less. The show is very dialogue heavy and the vocals are presented clearly through the front and center channels. There are a lot of times when characters are off screen talking, because of the handheld camera work, so directionality is a must. Directionality works well, with voices being placed in the soundfield where they should be. There isn't much need for the surrounds to be engaged, but during busy birthday parties, sack races, and bars, they still give a welcome, lively ambiance. A few of the musical soundtrack choices involve LFE to some extent, but the sub really isn't engaged much throughout the season. Overall, this is an adequate track. There are no glaring problems or defects to report.
'The League' is a crude, sometimes tasteless, but funny look into the crazy world of fantasy sports. With only six episodes, a MSRP of $34.99 seems a little steep. If you're a fan of the show you'll find 'The League' looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. There's a good helping of special features. All around this is a solid release for a pretty funny show. Check it out, but I would suggest just renting it. You'll be able to breeze through this show pretty fast.