Saying goodbye to some terrible people
The Story So Far...
Part of it is the focus on their relationships, and a sense that these people may have hit a point where they need to act like something approximating adults. Pete (Mark Duplass), who has a season-long fling with daily fantasy football (to the chagrin of the league), is facing relationship milestones and a desire to fit in with new referee friends, while Andre (Paul Scheer) has found happiness with a new woman: Pete's ex-wife Meegan (Leslie Bibb). Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) and Jenny (Katie Aselton), with two kids in the house, confront the idea of getting "the snip" (and who will get it) while Ruxin (Nick Kroll) struggles with both his wife (Nadine Velazquez) and her control of him and his general awfulness. And Taco (Jon Lajoie) is still Taco, running his bed and breakfast/sex hostel and coming up with ridiculous business ideas.
At its best, The League is insanely clever, and finds brilliant ways to tie the group's fantasy football addiction to the rest of their lives, like when Pete's hook-up Libby turns 30 and he's considering commitment (or a "long-term deal" in sports terminology.) As he and his pals analyze the pros and cons, and even watch "game tape" of her, the two worlds collide hilariously. The same goes for when Taco brings Tate to Ruxin, who said he would punch Tate in the face for underperforming on the field. Instead, Tate joins Taco in a Workplace Fantasy League, and drafts Ruxin, berating him for his courtroom performance. Sometimes though, the series is just ridiculous, like when Andre fights a gang of Asian chefs in an alley using only the implements of a Gilded Age gentleman, and that works just as well.
The key to the show however is in how it escalates little things into massive problems, like Ruxin's germ phobia at work leading to a lie about his faith which results in him being assigned to work a case with an ultra-orthodox Jew (and more lies) or when Andre wanting a good parking spot leads him to be strung up in a sex harness in a Korean church. If there's anything to be learned from this series, is to not lie, as it will not work out in the end. It's like the Rube Goldberg machine of sitcoms.
With invented sniglets and phrases all over the place and even Larry David stopping by to play future Ruxin (completing a trifecta of genius Ruxin casting with Jeff Goldblum's previous appearances), the DNA of Seinfeld is obvious throughout the show--the result of the creators' involvement with that series. Part of the price of that is what horrible people the main characters are, whether they are aware of it or not (most are, Andre maybe not.) Though there usually is some negative impact on the members of the league, the show isn't overly concerned about the ramifications of any of their actions in the big picture (for instance, Andre should be bankrupt from the malpractice suits he faces) and thus they never learn or change from their behavior.
That's fine for a cartoon (which the show realized and actually animated an adventure by outrageous side characters Rafi [Jason Mantzoukas] and Dirty Randy [Seth Rogen], putting them in their ideal medium.) In a cartoon, you can reset each episode and be back at square one, but if you want viewers to care about what happens to these people, some sense of realism has to be maintained. It certainly seems like the show tried to go down that path with the death of one character's loved one, the effects of which are spread over the final quarter of the season. But at the same time, the series' darker impulses were always just below the surface, so it only meant so much, serving more like a set-up than anything else. Dark is fine, and dark is funny, but the final capper to the series, which takes place years into the future, is just cruel and probably unnecessary, even if it does fit in perfectly with the rest of the show. It just didn't feel good.
As with previous seasons, these are extended, uncensored episodes, but oddly, the censorship is inconsistent. In some episodes, the F-word is silenced, in some it's bleeped and in another, it's untouched. Don't expect anything world changing in the small amount of added material though.
The audio is presented via Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks that are just what you'd expect from a dialogue-driven series like this. The center channel handles the voices and keeps them nice and clear, while the sides and rear give a boost to the music, while some atmospheric effects can be heard in the surround. The low-end isn't very active, kicking in lightly during the musical stings between scenes. Nothing about the audio poses an issue.
The gag reel is longer than usual at 14:40, showing the problems the cast has with pronunciation and how improv makes them break, while also letting you see favorites like David and Casey Wilson screw-up and Aselton almost seriously injure Rannazzisi. The time breezes by in this fun piece.
For an improv show, a piece like the 14:10 "Alt Nation" is a hoot, since you get to see such masters at work, with alternate takes from David, great bits by Kroll from a eulogy and moments of a homeless Ruxin insulting passers-by. Where this one came from in the season is unclear, as this scene wasn't in any episode, but it's a welcome addition to the DVD.
The extras wrap up with another edition of "Taco Tones", even if that name doesn't really fit, since only one song here is really a Taco song. First up is "Taco Making Tacos" (:53), which is a full-screen look at a cooking video seen in the show this season. "Down by Lakeshore Drive" (1:38) is an a cappella parody of a song sung by Andre and his Dre-tones singing group, with the lyrics changes to focus on the show. Finally there's a full-screen look at a song from the series finale (:48), which has a spoiler of a title, so avoid this section until you watch the final episode.
The Bottom Line