Thursday, October 29, 2009

'The League' review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review "The League," FX's new comedy that's kind of about fantasy football, but not nearly enough as it should be. It begins with my own sad little tale of Ryan Torain.

Suffice it to say, this one will not be in the blogging rotation.

19 comments:

TK said...

"Suffice it to say, this one will not be in the blogging rotation."

That just about sums up everything I need to know about the show. Thanks for saving me 30 minutes tonight.

gshannon said...

In that way, "The League" is trying to be a thirtysomething version of its timeslot lead-in, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Aren't Mack, Carlie and the gang already in their early 30s?

Andrew said...

The pitch for this was The Guild but with fantasy football, right? I would totally watch a halfway decent show about a fantasy football league, but this certainly isn't it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Aren't Mack, Carlie and the gang already in their early 30s?

Are they? Maybe by this point, yeah. But these guys are definitely in different life stages, in that several of them are married, some with kids.

Bobman said...

I was into Fantasy Sports for maybe two or three years before it just really got annoying to me. People take it WAY too seriously (as illustrated in your story that begins this article, Alan) and to me that just takes away from the fun.

A SHOW about this same phenomenon sounds horrific.

Mike F said...

I think you nailed the review here, Alan...in terms of what the show needed to be...I'll still give it a shot for a few episodes, but expectations are very low

Great fantasy football story, by the way...very amusing

Henry said...

I kept thinking of The Guild when I read this review. And bits of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Not sure if I want to dive in based on that (I thoroughly enjoy The Guild, while It's Always Sunny seems a little off since their season premiere). Not sure how you can derive humor from fantasy football since the season only lasts until about December. How would they cover the rest of the year in the lives of these characters?

Jeff said...

I fell for the Torain trap last year as well. I think Peter King mentioned him in a column and that got the ball rolling.

Anonymous said...

Henry---fantasy baseball

Henry said...

Hahaha, okay. I guess you could do fantasy baseball. The joke had some good miles in Knocked Up. I personally enjoy fantasy baseball more than fantasy football now so that would be right up my alley!

Anonymous said...

I'm sort of glad this is getting poor reviews because I can't take on another Thursday night show anyway. But I loved the ad where the guy is thinking about how great Drew Brees is in fantasy while screwing his wife. Plus Alan's comment about Always Sunny makes me question his taste in FX comedy, so I may give The League a shot tonight.

Oz said...

Alan,

"... about fantasy football, but not nearly enough as it should be?"

What pilot were you watching? Granted, many of the jokes weren't that funny, but there were a LOT of fantasy football jokes-- drafting Tiki Barber and Keyshawn Johnson, Adrian Peterson (actual joke about hammies not funny, but appreciating the sidebar haggling required a familiarity with All-Day's oeuvre), and the Oracle's advice-- Cutler will throw INT's; Larry Johnson is past his prime--was spot on (though perhaps a bit too obvious to be funny).

You know, Alan, it seems like you sometimes you latch on to a "hook" for the sake of a review and then stick to it despite evidence to the contrary. I seem to recall a similar scenario with Journeyman (you cried foul over the wife's supposed skepticism, even though she was clearly already aiding her husband as an accomplice).

Just trying to be constructive with my crtiticism, nana-style.

oz

Rabble Rouser said...

Alan,

I think you've missed the point. Before I saw the show my FEAR was that they would be focusing on the actual details of fantasy football. The only reason anyone listens to someone tell a story about their golf game, poker hand, or fantasy football team is so they can wait for the other person to stop so they can tell their own story.

What I hoped for is that the show would explore the relationships that male friends have and how fantasy football can serve as the glue that keeps it together. I hoped it would explore the different persona's present in every league/ group of friends. And the general escapism that it provides for frat daddies that are now getting domesticated (Read: whipped). It gave me exactly that. Plus I thought it was funny. Not the show to write home about but it definetly gives my roomies and I something to watch after the always to short "Sunny."

-RR

Alan Sepinwall said...

What pilot were you watching?

This one. But I've also seen the second episode, where the fantasy content is almost nil.

Anonymous said...

I watched. I was disappointed. I thought it was a bit over the top. Like it was trying too hard to be funny. The draft was horrible.

They only had 5 guys at the draft for an 8 team league. Couldn't they have just thrown in a couple other guys even if they wouldn't be part of the story? Also, the guys had no player info with them and were just standing around during the draft. Every draft I've ever been to has all the teams sitting around the same area with either laptops, magazines, or at least a list of players. Also, every draft is entertaining as guys rip on each other for draft picks and anything else they can think of. Pretty sad when my fantasy draft is funnier than a TV show's draft that is supposed to written by comedy writers.

I'll watch another couple of episodes (if it makes it that far) but this thing could have a shorter run than Hank!

Henry said...

Finally got around to watching an episode. It was as bad as I thought it would be. It was also much cruder than I expected. Did the guys really have to talk so much about their genitals? I mean, I know that FX puts out a warning before every episode, but this was pushing it. It's Always Sunny... was never this crude.

Tyler said...

Don't put stock in this review. First, the use of the word scuttlebutt just proves Alan has no business reviewing any kind of humorous television show. And Dan twisting the knife a little longer with his crass "you screwed up,"----that fantasy football crew just seems like a good ol' time filled with hilarity and tom foolery. "The horror and silliness of fantasy football." Are you kidding me with this stuff. This is a show for actual males who had friends growing up, not males like you Alan. How do you even consider yourself a writer of any kind? The trade up for the draft part was the most cliche part of the show, but you obviously only get cliches that are within the standard and safe been done a thousand times before typical sitcom awfulness. And my god, you freeze framed the draft board. You can't be a real person. This article is just filled with such insight into a pathetic lonely, humorless man and I pray to god no one puts stock in this review. As someone else wrote, fantasy football is the backdrop of the jokes, except for those truly pathetic guys who make it the center. This show does a great job of capturing the reality of growing older and looking for those little moments to escape the pressures of life. Just because a show is "crude" doesn't mean it's not smartly written. I think an ex-editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a Curb writer knows a bit more about what's funny than a guy who starts off every article he writes with a terrible annoying gimmick. This show is how normal adults who have not yet let life completely take away any sense of fun they used to have joke around with each other. Your writing clearly displays a man who has had the life sucked out of him years ago, and even more likely a man who never had any life to suck away in the first place. This is definitely a show worth watching if you understand humor.

Also, batting .300 for It's Always Sunny just proves you can't trust a word this man says when it comes to comedy. If it's not in the standard sitcom format, Alan won't understand. Give it a chance or end up sipping chardonnay alone guffawing at reruns of Frasier and talking about the "silliness" of fantasy football--a night I'm sure Alan would thoroughly enjoy.

Tyler said...

Sorry Alan, I just caught a glimpse of your photo up there. I completely understand now. I wish I wouldn't have wasted my time writing because having you review this show is like having a woman review it---you didn't grow up in an atmosphere where this kind of conversation was familiar (aka a world where fun exists). However, I was correct with the not having a life to suck out of you prediction, so I'm pretty impressed right now with my analytical skills. Good luck out there big guy.

Anonymous said...

This show is terrible. It just tries too hard. Not funny at all, and the characters are so boring I can barely keep track of them.

I'd say this is one football show that really strikes out.