My wife likes 'The League.' That's saying a lot, because when most people hear about the premise for FX's crass comedy they think that they need to understand and play fantasy football to get the show. It isn't true though. While the show does focus on a group of man-babies who run a fantasy football league that rules their lives, the show walks a fine line combining mainstream comedy with a niche subject like fantasy football. All you really need to know is how competitive a group of close friends can be and you'll be able to understand the dynamic of 'The League.'
Season three continues where a very strong second season left off. The draft day leads off in the third season and ends up as one of the show's best episodes. The guys decide that as a cruel joke they're going to film a porno in Andre's apartment directly after the draft. Andre has been sent away by the group as a punishment for coming in last place in season two. Seth Rogen guest stars as Dirty Randy, a shady movie producer. The culmination of the draft and the porno film mistakenly being filmed at the same time is one of the funniest moments the show has ever had.
Such is the case with season three. The show and its comedy keep getting stronger behind a capable husband/wife co-creator team of Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer. They've been able to craft a show about fantasy football that isn't entirely about fantasy football. It's a fast-paced comedy where the cast of actors are exceedingly great at improv situations. This is the biggest reason why 'The League' is so successful. They've been able to bring a cast of quick-witted comic actors together and have let them dictate the black-hearted spirit of the show.
The entire cast returns for the third season. Mark Duplass, who has made a name for himself as a competent mumblecore director plays Pete, who's the cocky leader of the group and has a few wins under his belt for bragging rights. Nick Kroll as Ruxin is probably the best character of the entire group. Ruxin is mean, vindictive, and isn't below throwing his friends under the bus in order to get closer to winning. Since winning the championship last season Ruxin has become insufferable, which leads to the group cheating him in the drafting order in the first episode. Taco, played by Jonathan Lajoie, isn't really sure what fantasy football is, but he's in the league anyway. Kevin, played by Stephen Rannazzisi, desperately wants to win a season, but can't seem to get past everyone else on his way to the top. Kevin's wife, Jenny (Katie Aselton), knows more about football than he does and has been given a rightful spot in the league. Finally, there's Andre (Paul Scheer) who is the butt of everyone's jokes, but he doesn't help himself by the way he acts.
Season three is so much fun. It only seems to be getting better. Even the show's guest stars are extremely strong and hilariously funny. The only character that grates on me after a while is Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas), Ruxin's brother-in-law, who is out-of-this-world nasty and doesn't try to hide it. The stories provided for the slate of season three guest stars ended up being very funny. Brie Larson starred as Ruxin's Au Pair; Ray Liotta was brought on to portray Ruxin's nut-case of a boss; Sarah Silverman came in to play Andre's infamous sister; Will Forte showed up as Chuck, one of the out of town guys in the league; Eliza Dushku shows up as a sexy Krav Maga teacher; but perhaps the greatest guest spot in season three was Jeff Goldblum taking on the role of Ruxin's father.
I can't get enough of 'The League.' It's funny, topical, and can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Sure it's focused on fantasy football, but that doesn't mean you need to be a fantasy football junkie to find it funny. You can even jump into this season, not knowing anything about other seasons, and still find it funny (although there are quite a few references you won't get).
I'd recommend the show to anyone, although the overt crassness could put some people off. It's a late-night FX show which means they're trying to push as many envelopes as possible without veering into premium cable territory. It's seriously funny though and that's really all you need to know. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a chance you won't regret it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This 20th Century Fox release comes in a two-disc set. The discs are 50GBs each. It's packaged in a standard two-disc keepcase. It's noted as being a Region A only disc. Sadly there is no episode-list insert included. Note: 'The League: Season Three' isn't edited for television broadcast. There isn't any bleeping or blurring of nudity. So the porno filmed in Andre's apartment, you see everything. On TV it was blurred. I just wanted to make you aware of this in case you didn't know.
Each season of 'The League' has produced a consistently clear digitally sourced 1080p image and season three is no exception. There are some drawbacks to the digital way the show is filmed, like some flat blacks, but for the most part if you were a fan of season one and two on Blu-ray then you'll like the way this one looks.
Fine detail is great in close ups. For example you can see Ruxin's stubble extremely easily. The digital filming takes a toll on detail in mid- to long-range shots though. They can be a little soft. Texture of clothing and other surfaces is nicely rendered. Shadows never crush and only accentuate detail. In short it looks like previous seasons and will please fans who pick it up.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, likewise, mirrors the effects of previous seasons on Blu-ray. The show is a subdued affair without much in the way of crazy sound effects or scenes requiring heavy use of rear channels. Instead much of the action is centered in the front as the show is centered around the dialogue, which is clearly delivered. It's very important that the dialogue be easy to hear and understand since many of the show's lines are supplied lightning quick.
There some LFE, but not much. It really only kicks in if there's a song on the soundtrack that requires some bass, or during the show's short intro music. Rear speakers, like I said, are light on action. There are a few scenes where some ambient sound can be clearly heard, like in the crowded porno filming scene. This audio mix won't overly impress anyone, but it's more than sufficient to be able to enjoy watching the show.
'The League' has consistently become funnier in its short three years as a show. Now that the fourth season has started up, this is your time to catch up with the series. You might think that you need to be a fantasy football nut to appreciate it, but you don't. This is a show that just about anyone could find humor in. It comes recommended.