For millions of Americans, the Fall season means one thing: football season, baby!
With that comes fantasy football, which has seen an explosion in popularity over
the past decade thanks to ingenious, user-friendly websites to manage the leagues.
Once the realm of statistics geeks and number crunchers, Joe Sixpack can now easily
drag and drop his way to imaginary glory each week during the NFL season. Fantasy
football makes all NFL games take on life-or-death importance, with fantasy team
owners sweating out each of their player's games. Everybody is a self-proclaimed
genius and the competition is fierce, which leads to the true draw of fantasy football:
the smack talk.
The League centers around a group of longtime buddies who have an ongoing
fantasy football league that they live and breathe. Their league is called The Quest
for Shiva. The prize is The Shiva, a ridiculously huge trophy sporting a high school
picture of their homely, senior year valedictorian, Shivakamini Somakandarkram.
There, now you have her full name should you ever feel the urge to Shiva Blast.
The series follows the lives of this group as they trash talk their way through
a season of fantasy football. Pete (Mark Duplass, Humpday), the three-peat
champion of the league, is the focus of the series. His wife wants to have kids
and is upset at his lack of ambition beyond fantasy football. Of course, when given
an ultimatum, he chooses his friends and the fantasy football league and kicks her
to the curb. Andre (Paul Scheer, Pirahna) plays the lowest man in the group's
pecking order. While nobody in the league is untouchable, the slow-witted Andre
is most often the target of their vicious jokes. He's a complete dork that tries
so hard to be cooler than he actually is, that the guys can't help but chop him
down. Taco (Jon Lajoie) is a Kramer-like, single, ladies-man. It is unclear exactly
how he makes his living, but until he is forced to find employment, he seems to
get by through a variety of schemes and panhandling. He couldn't be less interested
in the fantasy football league, but gets dragged into the league each season regardless.
His scene-stealing antics are always hysterical and never fail to have you falling
off your couch in tears from laughter.
Rounding out the crew are the two lawyers Ruxin (Nick Kroll, Get Him To The Greek,
I Love You, Man) and Kevin (Steve Rannazzisi, Samantha Who?). Ruxin
fancies himself as the devious one of the group and has never heard of an evil scheme
he couldn't appreciate. His Hispanic wife, Sophia (Nadine Velazquez, My Name is Earl)
doesn't seem to grasp the importance of football and likes to plan things during
games, a handicap that Ruxin despises. Kevin is the commissioner of the fantasy
football league, has never won the championship, and is frequently emasculated by
his wife, Jenny (Katie Aselton, Cyrus), who may know more about football
than he does and tends to take over his team--something the boys in the league suspect
and, of course, clown on him for.
No character in this series is wasted. The show is focused on Pete and his new life
as a 30-something bachelor, but the writers spread the wealth fairly evenly between
the characters. Each guy in the fantasy football league is finely developed and
given plenty of hilarious material to run with. Picking a favorite character is
nearly impossible because every single main character is well written, likeable
in some way, and had scenes that cracked me up. Impressively, it is just as difficult
to choose a least favorite.
Fantasy football is the glue that holds the group of friends together, but the show
is not about fantasy football--in fact, you don't even have to know a thing about
fantasy football to fall in love with this series. The League is comparable
to Seinfeld in its prime. That's no small compliment from this longtime Seinfeld
fan. The episodes follow the private lives of each character as much, if not even
more than their progress in the fantasy football league. It is very much a show
that revels in its nothingness. Much like the infamous "Master of Your Domain,"
The League introduces its audiences to terms such as "vaginal hubris"
and "Eskimo brothers" and builds entire episodes around them. In short,
The League is Seinfeld if they grew a pair.
How this series escaped my notice on FX is a mystery, but I'm thrilled to have found
it. The League is the funniest comedy series that I have watched in ages.
In fact, no series has consistently delivered so many laugh-out-loud moments. The
final episode of the season stands out as one of the most hysterical episodes of
any show that I have ever seen. If you missed the original airing of The League's
first season, you cannot miss this awesome DVD set.
Audio: The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The surround effects
are limited in this center channel-heavy series. The audio quality is crystal clear.
Video: The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video
is relatively sharp, but has instances of minor pixelization throughout the series.
The quality is a respectable DVD representation of the high definition source material.
Extras: This DVD boxset is loaded with awesome extras. There are no stinkers
in this set and all of the extras are well worth your time. Included are:
- Extended versions of each episode.
- Deleted Scenes: The Draft, The Bounce Test, Sunday at Ruxin's, Mr McGibblets, The
Shiva Bowl, and just as many scenes that aren't listed. These scenes are surprisingly
just as funny as the material that actually made it on the air.
- Andre: Dress with Style and Win With Style. This is a short video featuring the
Doctor of Fashion, Andre, commenting on how to dress while browsing a clothing store.
- Legalize Kevin's Pubic Smoke is a music video, by performed by Taco, about smoking
Kevin's pubic hair.
- Pilot Episode of Archer, a cartoon that airs on FX. I'm not a fan.
- Blooper Reel.
- Alt Nation. This extra shows multiple versions of jokes that were tried out instead
of the ones that made the final cut.
- Mr. McGibblets' Fun House and Dojo. A short video featuring Taco, dressed as Mr.
McGibblets, teaching you to sing, solve math problems, kill people, and use nunchucks.
The best part is where he tries to explain how the genital-less Mr. McGibblets has
- Birthday Song. The full scene of Taco's hilariously inappropriate birthday song
to Kevin's 5-year old daughter.
- Three Penis Wine. Taco's infomercial for Three Penis Wine, a wine made from the
penis of a dog, deer, and snake that is supposed to enhance virility.
- An extended version of Taco's rap video about vaginal hubris.
Final Thoughts: I love this show and it's easily my new favorite comedy series.
I was unsure of whether to rate this DVD set as Recommended or Highly Recommended,
so I submitted it to the wife test. My wife hates fantasy football and really only
tolerates the sport of football so she can see me during Fall weekends. She absolutely
loved the series as much as I did. Not only that, the series is just as funny the
second time around. I cannot recommend The League: Season 1 highly enough.
Get it now! Highly Recommended. SHIVA-KAMINI-SOMA-KANDAR-KRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!
Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter