‘The League’ – ‘The Lockout’: One ring to rule them all?

A quick review of “The League” season 3 premiere coming up just as soon as I “Pretty Woman” you…

I didn’t much like “The League” when it first premiered. I thought it was a case of a show being afraid to be about what it was about (downplaying the fantasy football talk as much as possible in the early episodes) and didn’t believe in most of the characters or find them amusing. But the second season was a big improvement (as were some of the later season one episodes that I watched after the fact), finding a better balance between the fantasy-derived stories and ones just about the group hanging out. And while I still don’t particularly believe in these people and their behavior (which is a problem in an episode like next week’s, a disappointing “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-style episode where no one’s actions make any sense except to set up various jokes), they’ve turned out to be a funny collection of characters, and actors who play well off of each other. So I can just enjoy a scene like the group all busting on Andre (Ruxin’s “Do you see yourself more as a rapist who does magic, or a magician who rapes?” line is still making me laugh) without needing it to go any deeper or make more sense.

“The Lockout” did a nice job of continuing various continuing gags, like Ruxin going way over-the-top to celebrate his Shiva Bowl victory by recording that “Shiva Bowl Shuffle” video with several actual members of his fantasy team(*) to the return of Rafi and the introduction of Seth Rogen as the oft-discussed Dirty Randy. (Whose day job as a librarian was a nice touch.) “The League” is often best when it’s at its filthiest, and the group’s plot to fill Andre’s apartment with the residue of a porno shoot was hilarious – particularly when they got some immediate karmic payback by being locked out of the draft while the computer picked for everybody.(**)

(*) Would Ruxin actually be able to pay Maurice Jones-Drew and company to show up and do that? Probably not; still amusing

(**) I spent two years in a league where we had to auto-draft because not enough players had the time to devote to a live draft. The first year, my roster was heinous because I just trusted the computer’s built-in player rankings. The second year, I obsessively ranked and reranked a couple of hundred players and defenses to try to game the system (placing every single kicker, for instance, on the Do Not Draft list). It worked, in that I won the league that year, but it only made me hate auto-drafting even more. Auto-drafts suck. Period.

Next week’s episode isn’t as good, but this was a very funny start to season 3. What did everybody else think?