9.3

The League Review: “The Block” (7.10)

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<i>The League</i> Review: &#8220;The Block&#8221; (7.10)

Since the second season of The League, the show’s braintrust has allowed cast member Paul Scheer to write or co-write an episode each season. According to a recent interview I did with him (which will be part of a longer feature about the show that will appear here in the near future), it was something he worked into his contract as a way to keep him even more engaged with the show creatively. And, by and large, those are the episodes that us comedy nerds point to when we talk about how good this show can be (I’m thinking especially of “The Tailgate” from season four when the gang faced off against “The Body” and his buddies outside of Soldier Field).

Scheer got his last licks in this week and the result was one of the best half-hours of the show’s final season. He had particular fun mocking the world of obsessive TV fans. You know, the folks that read reviews like this every week and debate the minutiae of their favorite programs online and with friends. Within the world of The League, their interest is in a show called The Block, a kind of Fringe/Orphan Black/Battlestar Galactica hybrid that has its own swear word (“sint”) and strange internal logic.

As the series finale of that show nears, poor Pete gets caught up in it as a way to impress his fellow community college basketball refs. And like those of us that get wrapped up in our beloved TV shows, it’s all he can talk about, alienating most everyone around him, including women he is trying to woo. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

The rest of the episode concerns Andre getting stalked by an Uber driver (ex-SNL and Happy Endings cast member Casey Wilson) that he had drunken sex with in the back of her SUV. We can question whether Scheer wrote it just to put his character in the driver’s seat, but it made for some of the episode’s best moments. My favorite was how, at the beginning of his play-by-play anecdote about getting laid by this crazy woman, Andre imagines himself as a hilarious and good-looking black man. The sex scene between he and his stalker was equally over-the-top, especially when she announced how excited she was that he dressed like “a better dressed, more street smart Steve Harvey.” The whole thing doesn’t end well, naturally, but it’s always fun to watch Andre in some kind of distress. That this season has been full of that has only made it better.

Most everything else in the episode was just small garnishes to those main dishes. I didn’t much care about Taco’s supposed retirement from sex due to concussions, especially as it felt like a stumbling effort to steer the show into the world of football for a moment. And Ruxin’s weird sex stuff with his wife, as they tried to engage in some Skype action, was only funny thanks to Nick Kroll’s distressingly funny fantasy talk.

That’s how it goes with The League, though, with some characters getting the spotlight and others falling into the shadows. We could use more episodes like “The Tailgate,” which forces all the characters into the same place to interact and riff and trade insults for the full half-hour instead of splitting them off into little groups or sending them off on their own. As much fun as I’ve been having watching this last season, I can’t deny that The League works best when the characters are an actual league.

Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.

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