The superhero comic book character The Tick was the brain child of writer/artist Ben Edlund and it has managed to remain fresh and fun since his birth back in the late 80s; from his adventures in his own comic book to his later animated incarnation for Fox Kids and even later in a live action incarnation starring Patrick Warburton this lovable lunkhead was always finding a new audience, and now Amazon Prime has released their version of The Tick for a new generation. Using the same model Netflix created, releasing an entire season in one go, we get the first season of The Tick that though “complete” it is sadly only six episodes long. The pilot had been released a year ago but now with the full run available we can answer that most important question, “Does it actually work?” Can this surreal parody of superheroes survive a second live action attempt?
This new series has The Tick’s creator Ben Edlund as one of its producers, as well as Patrick Warburton and David Fury, and Edlund even wrote the first two episodes, but what makes this version of The Tick stand out is that though the show is called The Tick the actual central character is “sidekick” Arthur (Griffin Newman) who as a child witnessed the death of his father when the villainous menace, aptly named The Terror (Jackie Earl Haley), sent the ship belonging to superhero team Flag Five crashing down on the poor hapless dad. Young Arthur was forced to watch his heroes, stricken blind by syphilis, being gunned down by The Terror’s minions, and who now fifteen years later he is a somewhat mentally fragile mess who is obsessed with proving that The Terror is very much still alive. The world has come to believe that The Terror was killed by the hero Superian (Brendan Hines), this world’s version of Superman, when after one fateful fight only The Terror’s teeth could be found. One night while investigating what looked to be an illegal arms shipment, which Arthur believed to be connected somehow to The Terror, he runs into The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) the blue clad avenger of all that is good, and with that Destiny makes its first call.
The first couple of episodes dance around the idea that The Tick may just be a figment of Arthur’s unbalanced mind but as we see The Tick off on his own beating of gang members it’s more of a case of Arthur thinking that The Tick is a delusion and not us the viewers believing that to be the case. It does lead to some nice comic moments with the Tick popping up and disappearing at the oddest moments.
The other key character in Arthur’s life is his sister Dot (Valorie Curry) a med student who pays her bills working nights as a paramedic but she is also making extra cash providing medical treatment to the members of the cities underworld, but despite those “occupations” it does seem that Dot’s main job is bailing her brother out of trouble and insuring that he is taking his prescribed meds. It’s when The Tick enters the picture that all bets are off and things go from crazy to worst for poor beleaguered Arthur, and when The Tick gives Arthur the winged super suit he’d obtained after taking down that arms deal the shit really begins to hit the fan.
Chasing after the suit is the supervillain Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez), ex-henchwoman of The Terror, who has nasty electricity based powers that though quite effective in a fight also create quite a bit of static cling and thus she finds herself often becoming a walking lint brush, thus the name. Arthur is the standard reluctant hero for the most part of this season, he does want to uncover the truth behind The Terror but he also has no desire to don a costume and fight the evil madman himself, that’s what the cops are for, but eventually we will be forced to man up.
Throughout this six episode season Arthur is plagued with henchman trying to kill him, despite his willingness to give back the suit, and The Tick constantly showing up like a cross between an adorable puppy and a boomerang. As each episode is about a half hour long the action and comedy really zips along with Peter Serafinowicz doing a great job as the titular hero, his booming voice is perfect for the goofy-ass monologs that The Tick continuously spouts, and he and Newman really have good onscreen chemistry. Though as good as those two are I must single out Jackie Earl Haley’s performance as The Terror for being so insanely fun and completely engaging that he almost steals the show in those few moments he appears. His brand of off-the-cuff evil is comic gold and I can’t wait to see where they go with this character in the future.
The world of The Tick is presented rather realistically for this iteration, there are superheroes in this world but their existence is rather down played and treated as something matter of fact, and this show is also seasoned with a good amount of dark humor that could catch the unwary viewer off guard. We are told that that there is a government agency called Aegis that is supposed to be keeping tabs on both superheroes and supervillains but people on both sides of the law consider Aegis to be a useless bureaucratic nightmare. This version of The Tick doesn’t quite have the massive cast of crazy heroes that previous versions have had but so far this season along with the all-powerful Superian, who we see can turn terrible coffee into wonderful pumpkin spiced with a mere blast of his eye lasers, we have the armed vigilante called Overkill (Scott Speiser) who is kind of a cross between Marvel’s The Punisher and DC’s Deathstroke.
With only six episodes making up the first seasons how exactly this show will work in the long run as a series is still up in the air but so far I love the cast and the tone the showrunners have chosen and certainly look forward to season two. Hopefully the will introduced his battle cry of “SPOON!”
I will now take the time to posit my own theory about The Tick’s origins; in all version of The Tick he seems to have no memory of his life before being The Tick, and indeed he doesn’t have much memory of anything before meeting Arthur; head trauma or clinical insanity have both been posited as reasons for this but I think for this show it could be a bit stranger than that. At first Arthur believes The Tick to be a figment of his imagination, with a flashback of young Arthur’s blue night light speaking to him with The Tick’s voice supporting this idea, but once it’s made perfectly clear that others see and interact with The Tick this can’t be the case, so what if somehow Arthur created The Tick? If you agree with me on that theory, or think I’m totally insane, let me know in the comment section below.
• Dot balances her time as a paramedic/med student/underworld doctor with being a member of a roller derby team. I simply love Dot.
• Arthur’s stepdad (François Chau) has strange interest in people’s feet.
• Overkill’s lair is his also his partner and is called Deathboat voiced by Alan Tudyk.
• We meet talking super dog Onward the only surviving member of Flag Five and whose master was Christian Soldier.
• Arthur’s super suit has an Armenian control system so he basically has the same problem that William Katt had as The Greatest American Hero when it comes to operating it.