The Triumphant Return of the Tick

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My first exposure to THE TICK was when the cartoon debuted way back in 1994.  After the success of the X-Men cartoon, I just assumed this was another superhero cartoon on Fox.  But from the first episode, it was clear this was something very different.  Something funny and ridiculous and just brilliant.  I immediately went out and picked up the 5 omnibus trades from my local comic shop.  THE TICK would also later get a short-lived live action show starring Patrick Warburton, who was brilliant in the role.

What is amazing about THE TICK is that each version is so different from each other, but they are all terrific in their own way.  Tick is a big blue superhero who happens to be neigh invulnerable with super strength who defends The City.  In the comic, it starts with Tick escaping from a mental hospital...which just makes sense. Tick is reckless to the point of sheer insanity.   In every version, he ends up with a sidekick named Arthur, a normal man who happens to come across a flying moth suit...that more resembles a bunny outfit.

Tick and Arthur still pop up in comics every now and then, but I have been anxiously awaiting them to come back in another cartoon or live action series.  And this wish finally came true last week when Amazon posted THE TICK as part of their 2016 pilot season.  The return of THE TICK was first announced way back in August 2014!  And then we went over a year with no news at all.  I will be honest, I had basically given up hope that it would ever happen until they announced in March 2016 that British actor Peter Serafinowicz would be playing the role. It was a long journey to get here, but finally, THE TICK was back on TV!

What was immediately jarring about this version of THE TICK is that it’s much darker than earlier adaptations.  As a child, Arthur’s parents were killed by a super-villain named The Terror (played by chameleonic actor Jackie Earle Haley).  Since then, Arthur has struggled with mental illness, obsessed in taking down The Terror...who most people believe to be dead.   

For the first several minutes of the show, I was starting to feel concerned about the direction of the show.  It felt a lot like Gotham or Arrow, shows I really enjoy, but not quite what you would expect from THE TICK.  But, then Tick shows up...in all of his goofy glory.  It is pretty insane to see Tick in this kind of setting.  It’s not quite a parody of the current trend of realistic, grimdark superhero shows, but it’s damn close.  Huge props to Ben Edlund for once again reinventing THE TICK in a relevant and brilliant way.

The casting of this show was particularly strong.    Peter Serafinowicz is a worthy successor of Patrick Warburton.  I had a lot of concerns that no one could top Warburton as Tick, but Serafinowicz brought a ton of energy and insanity to the character.  I also love his costume!  And his narrations were just perfect.  They sound so intelligent...until you listen to them carefully and realize "this dude is missing some serious marbles." 

Griffin Newman played a very different version of Arthur.  At first, I wanted to not like it...but he played the role so well, it grew on me quickly.  It’s definitely a very tricky and unique role to pull off in what most people expect to be a madcap silly show.  It could have easily come across as parody, but Newman finds the perfect balance to make it work.

Jackie Earle Haley is only in the show for a few minutes as The Terror, but almost steals the show.  I’ve been a fan of Haley’s since Human Target.  He blends into every role he plays, and I typically have no idea it’s even him until I see the credits.  This also happened with him as Quincannon in Preacher...and he also was one of the best parts of that show too.  

 

On a whole, the show seemed to be fairly low budget, but it used its money well.  We get plenty of action and explosions.  Tick and Arthur’s costumes look great. Everything just really comes together to be an unexpected surprise.  A dark, but still funny and enjoyable adaptation of THE TICK.

This show might turn away fans of the cartoon or TV series if they they don’t give it a fair shot.  I have already seen some negative reviews, and to be honest, most of those reviews read as “I didn’t quite get what they were going for.”  THE TICK is a flexible concept, and this new version works so well, especially when you think of it in the vein of the superhero shows on the air right now.  Hopefully, unlike the Fox show, this version of THE TICK can find an audience.  

I loved this pilot and voted it up on Amazon’s pilot polling website: amazon.com/pilotseason.  Amazon (like Netflix) seems more inclined to support more quirky shows like this, so hopefully third time is a charm!

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0