Published on October 28th, 2009 | by Erich Becker0
The League – Pilot (01×01)
Where FX has excelled in the drama game the network has always seemed to struggle on the flipside of the programming coin in the comedy genre. Save for the wildly popular It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, shows like Starved, Testees, and Lucky have always missed the mark for various reasons. The network recently unveiled a new slate of original programming including several comedies and dramas, the first of which is the fantasy football-themed The League which continues the network tradition of vivid characters based on excellent writing.
Breaking away from the sight-gag laced Testees, The League centers on an ensemble cast of characters all joined together by friendship and their desire to one-up each other in fantasy football. The competition is nothing to be taken lightly as characters influence each other in their work and home lives, all to get Peyton Manning.
The writing is sharp in the first two episodes with more than a few laugh out loud moments and more than a few hearty chuckles strewn about. What really works is the believable, relatable characters all pulled from the sitcom stable including the recently separated, charming guy; the clueless friend who drafts retired players; the married dude who has to watch porn in the garage while working out. Well, you get to expand the normal staples when you’re on cable.
A few standout moments are Taco’s (Jon Lajoie) wholly inappropriate song at a pre-teen’s birthday party, you know where its going from the very beginning, but there’s something about harmonizing and explaining various sexual positions that really makes you laugh. Nick Kroll’s Ruxin and his desire to win the fantasy league so bad he kidnaps an “oracle” leads to another stand out, laugh out loud moment that looks really, really bad, but you never realized implied pedophilia could be so funny.
The show has a semi-serialized nature to it, at least in regards to the first few episodes, and the “league” aspect is used (so far) as merely a framing device for a few jokes and as an excuse for everyone to stay together. In the end, however, The League is a very funny entry into FX’s already stellar lineup or originals, as long as the first season stays Sunny and avoids being Starved the future looks bright.