THE TICK is back! The comic-book hero created by Ben Edlund back in the late 1980s returns to live-action with Amazon.com’s 2016 Pilot Season. Didn’t see it yet? Watch it here. Saw it already? WATCH IT AGAIN. And take a survey about it! Let’s get this show made. (And if we’re going to have something from the 80s win Pilot Season, let’s NOT let it be Jean Claude Van
Some quick background if you’re unfamiliar; THE TICK is a nigh-invulnerable, super-strong, and truly larger-than-life hero in a world that might just be the greatest satire of superhero comics ever. Arthur, his sidekick, is an accountant-turned-hero themed around a flying moth and acts as the ever-beleaguered straight-man to The Tick’s antics. They fight crime! Sometimes against villains with chairs for faces like Chairface Chippendale and nefarious centenarians like The Terror.
In the new pilot, Peter Serafinowicz brings the title character to life, undeterred in this newly dramatic setting as the boisterous, destiny-obsessed hero we’ve come to know and love for over 20 years. A pitch-perfect-portrayal right in the vein of the comic pages, Townsend Coleman’s iconic cartoon voiceover in 1994, and Patrick Warburton’s live-action stint in 2001. As much as Serafinowicz steals the show by hamming it up as much as possible, his mannerisms and delivery make The Tick seem a little more unhinged than just a lovable goofball. And while we ARE talking about an escaped mental patient superhero, I’m hoping the character’s backstory may finally be explored in some way.
Arthur (Griffin Newman) serves as the viewpoint character through which all the events are centered, despite The Tick being the center attraction. True to form, this Arthur is a neurotic, milquetoast man drawn into the world of superheroes as an escape from the mundane. Now, however, he also carries the baggage of a tragic backstory tied to The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), the world’s foremost supervillain who he believes faked his death and may be returning. And is also responsible for the death of Arthur’s father and superheroes the Flag Five.
Yes, you heard me right about that “newly dramatic setting”– the tone of the show is darker than what we’ve seen before, certainly darker than the 2001 show, with some serious shades of Daredevil influence showing through. A scene where The Tick effortlessly dispatches gun-toting thugs is a hilarious delight, and while the Mighty Blue Arachnid has always been careless with superheroic collateral damage, a warehouse explosion ends with bodies. That said, the show has its share of lighthearted fun as well, so don’t think they drop one of the most beloved comedic superheroes into some dramatic dystopia altogether. Another scene where The Tick rummages Arthur’s normal apartment to find the entrance to an alleged secret lair, along with a line about Arthur going “sane in a crazy world”, serves as a great throwback to the previous series and is pleasant mood shift. There’s room enough for balance here, it feels fresh, it’s certainly different, and I am for-sure interested.
If THE TICK gets picked up, I expect the showrunners to continue this great start with as much FINESSE! as this pilot episode. SPOOOOON!
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