The League is the kind of show that feels grounded even when someone's penis is sheared by a naginata. Outrageous moments happen, but they all feel earned by the way the show packs its episodes. "Ghost Monkey" bucked tradition by carting out the freaks and including moments that refused to be grounded in reality—even a heightened one. It mostly worked, but the episode felt shaky at times.
Part of the problem is that The League has plenty of built-in straight men to every joke. Often, gags are between two people, so one's the fool, and the other is pointing out how foolish the first is being. The scene where Taco and Wicca Girl commune with dead monkey Potato doesn't have a straight man (unless you count Pete coming in unannounced for three seconds), and we wound up with Taco singing a song of forgiveness to the spirit of Potato. It was a bit of an uncomfortable moment that didn't fit the tone of the rest of the scene, and without someone or something to drive the moment, it felt ancillary.
Dead monkey, eh? I should probably back up. Basically, Jenny and Kevin are annoyed that once they had kids and moved to the suburbs, Halloween ceased to be a holiday they could celebrate like adults—drunken, slutty adults. So they decide to load up a wagon full of booze, invite all their friends, and have a grown-up Halloween. Pete attends with the Wicca Girl he met at a pumpkin farm when he thought her get-up was merely a costume. Andre brings an ecstasy-loving slutty Girl Scout that he meets at the bar using one of his patented moves. (And you all say you hate comparisons to How I Met Your Mother…) Taco arrives frazzled, because he'd stolen a monkey from the farm and tossed it out of Andre's moving car—after the monkey became agitated by Andre's Ke$ha-inspired Pandora playlist. And Ruxin is even worse off, having gone mad trying to spin Pete's line-up into something Ruxin's team can actually beat.
Though Ruxin goes nuts with paranoia and fever dreams, this part of "Ghost Monkey" didn't bother me much. There's a nice build to Ruxin's breakdown. First, he accepts Pete's offer to redo Pete's line-up, then second-guesses himself while sitting in front of the computer. Then later, he heads to the bar to pump Pete for tips. His descent into madness is measured, at least, and his crazy-eyes at the end are the result of the episode's hard work. It's also nice how the episode plays with expectations. Sometimes, things don't play out nearly as expected—Jenny dresses as a frog to please her daughter and therefore gets humped by a monkey. And sometimes, they do. Not everything has to be crazy.
Like last week's episode, there's not much to complain about in "Ghost Monkey." I mean, any episode with the words "sexy museum curator" can't be that bad.
- Another thing that helps the jokes: specificity. Note how Andre talks about keeping detailed stats on his successes with ladies, tracked most of them to October, then broke it down even further by pointing out that his "poor thing" move works six percent of the time. Specificity is the key to good comedy.
- I could have sworn Kevin was talking about Ruxin having a son, but I don't think that's the case … right?