It’s pilot season on Amazon.com and, as usual, the website has a selection of prospective shows available for users to watch and review. One of the three shows available is The Tick. But who is The Tick, and why should you care about him?
Who Is The Tick?
The Tick is a comedic superhero created by Ben Edlund. Tick is a gigantic lummox with a blue full-body suit with antennae. He is extremely strong, incredibly dumb, and nigh-invulnerable. The character has a penchant for inane long-winded speeches, excessive alliteration, and the nonsensical battle-cry “Spoon!” Every iteration also features Tick’s sidekick, Arthur, a meek and cowardly man in a white suit with moth wings who serves as a straight-man foil for Tick’s hijinks.
The Tick’s Beginnings
The Tick started life as a newsletter mascot for New England Comics before getting his own 12-issue series, written and drawn by Ben Edlund. The series was abandoned on a cliffhanger at issue 12 when Ben Edlund went off to work on its television adaptation for Fox. As a result, the show has never been officially finished, as Edlund has been working in TV ever since. A non-canon conclusion to the original series, titled ‘Pseudo-Tick #13,’ was released seven years after Edlund’s departure.
The Tick on TV
The Tick has had two television shows. An animated series was released in 1994. Network execs unfortunately misunderstood the tone and target audience of the show and felt it should be for small children. Fox Kids’ absurd censorship regulations then hampered the show. Despite these issues, the cartoon still ran for three seasons and remains a cult favorite to this day.
The second television show was a live-action series, released in 2001. Unlike the cartoon, The Tick was a workplace comedy about superheroes.
Seinfeld actor Patrick Warburton played the titular hero with aplomb, but Fox mishandled the show and it never found an audience. Fox canceled the live-action show after nine episodes.
The New Tick
The current iteration of The Tick stars Shaun of the Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Peter Serafinowicz as the titular hero. This version focuses more on The Tick’s sidekick, Arthur (Griffin Newman). As a child, Arthur witnessed the death of his father and his favorite superhero team, The Flag Five, at the hands of the infamous supervillain The Terror (Preacher‘s Jackie Earl Haley).
The world’s Superman analog, Superian, supposedly killed The Terror shortly after the incident, but Arthur doesn’t believe he’s really dead. His obsession with The Terror has lead to anxiety and a strained relationship with his sister Dot (The Following‘s Valorie Curry).
One night, Arthur sneaks into a shipping yard to witness a gang of criminals preparing a shipment of super-powered weaponry for transfer. This is when The Tick arrives. The Tick is the only person other than Arthur who believes that The Terror is still at large. The blue hero sets out to take Arthur in as a sidekick against his will. The Tick invites himself to live in Arthur’s home and gives him a super suit he found at the docks.
So Is This New Show Any Good?
Compared to its forebears, The Tick is both old and new. Storytelling has changed a lot since 1994; mainstream superheroes on-screen have become much darker and funnier at the same time. Meanwhile, comedy shows have become more story driven than in the past. The golden-era superhero hijinks of 1994’s The Tick and the wry sitcom style of 2001’s The Tick just don’t work any longer. So, Ben Edlund has embraced the darkness, going for a tone that walks the line between humor and drama.
In this show, people die, people swear, and the humor is darker. Arthur has gone from Tick’s long-suffering sidekick to a paranoid delusional mess with a tragic backstory. This feels more like Elijah Wood’s character from FX’s Wilfred than the silly man in the “bunny” suit from the Fox Kids show. This tonal change isn’t quite as out-of-nowhere as it may seem. Ben Edlund’s original comics were fairly dark in tone, featuring several characters who died gruesome, if not graphic, deaths often played for laughs. Most importantly, while the show has a considerable amount more grit, it stays true to the spirit of the world and its characters.
Does It Stack Up Against Past Versions?
Peter Serafinowicz was a bizarre choice to play The Tick, given that he’s British and not particularly tall or muscular. Serafinowicz is easily the smallest version yet, and his outfit has a bizarre design that feels a little bit off. But Serafinowicz does a marvelous job with the character’s voice, coming across like a mash-up of past Tick actors Townsend Coleman and Patrick Warburton with a bit of Adam West and Phil Hartman thrown in. The Tick speaks with the right amount of bravado, bombast, and cheerful meatheaded sincerity to really bring the character to life. While Serafinowicz loses the voice on a few lines of dialogue, the character’s trademark nonsense speeches are spot-on.
We can’t glean much more about the show at this point. The pilot is mostly set-up, with Arthur only donning his iconic costume in the last few moments and the villains only shown briefly. The one action scene is magnificent and a perfect example of the way to handle this property. It’s too early to tell if Amazon will pick up The Tick for a full series yet. However, this pilot is on the right track to being the adaptation that fans really want.
You can watch The Tick’s pilot episode for free on Amazon. Be sure to rate and review the show if you want to see more in the future!