Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews Amazon’s The Tick

I read and loved The Tick way back when the first black and white issues of Ben Edlund’s super-hero parody masterpiece were published in the eighties, and I have followed the big blue goofball’s adventures through both of his two previous TV incarnations, an animated series in the nineties and the killed-way-before-it’s-time live-action series on FOX in 2001.  I was delighted when Amazon announced they’d be taking another swing at a Tick adaptation, and I loved the pilot episode they produced last year.  They released an additional five episodes a few months ago, and I am pleased to report that they are terrific!

The new episodes pick up right where the pilot left off, and maintain a wonderful consistency of look and tone.  (Strangely, the only major change I noticed was that they changed the look of the costume of the Tick himself. The version in the pilot did look a little, well, mushy, but the more blocky new version isn’t much better in my opinion.)

The show belongs to Peter Serafinowicz, who is fantastic as the Tick.  Mr. Serafinowicz is able to give the Tick all of the superheroic bombast that he needs, while maintaining the gentleness at the character’s core. Mr. Serafinowicz is very, very funny in the role.  At first I missed Patrick Warburton (who was so great as the Tick in the FOX version), but very quickly I felt Mr. Serafinowicz owned this role completely.  He makes every single line a comedic home run.  This is not an easy role too play — it could easily veer too far into the corny or the ridiculous.  But Mr. Serafinowicz is pretty much perfect.

Griffin Newman and Valorie Curry were both great in the pilot as Arthur and his sister Dot, and they continue to be great in these new episodes.  The pilot left open the possibility that Arthur really was crazy and the Tick was only in his head, which was an intriguing choice, and that continued at first in this new run of episodes. But the show did away with that pretty quickly and established that other characters could, indeed, also see the Tick.  I was a little sore to see that resolved so definitively so quickly, though that was probably the better choice in terms of the show’s longevity.  (The idea of other characters always just-missing the Tick would probably get old pretty fast.)  I liked the choice to make Arthur’s sister Dot a major character in the pilot, and I loved that Dot continued too play a major role in these subsequent episodes.  Ms.Curry is terrific, and I love the added dimension that this gives to Arthur and the show, by exploring Arthur’s relationship with his sister and, as the episodes progressed, with the rest of his family.

Yara Martinez appeared briefly in the pilot as the villainess Miss Lint, but she stepped into the forefront in these new episodes.  I LOVE this character!  The show wrings a lot of laughs out of the continuing sight gag of Lint’s electricity powers continually causing her to be a magnet for lint and dust.  Lint is a villain, but I enjoyed how likable she was, and the clever ways in which the show brought the audience into her point of view, rendering her a very sympathetic character even as we see her doing some nasty things.  And Ms. Martinez is so funny.  She plays angry and frustrated to killer c comedic effect.

I enjoyed the way these episodes have already begun to populate this world with a collection of weirdos and oddballs.  I loved the violent vigilante Overkill and his talking boat Dangerboat (voiced by Firefly’s Alan Tudyk!!).  The show did a great job showing how the Tick’s excitement over the prospect of a super-hero team-up turned to concern and befuddlement over Overkill’s violent methods.  Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from Watchmen) is a lot of fun as the truly evil and deranged The Terror.  Michael Cerveris is funny as the not-as-tough-as-he-thinks-he-is Egyptian-themed villain Ramses IV.  And I loved seeing François Chau (Pierre Chang from Lost!) pop up as Arthur’s stepfather!

I have seen many projects on TV and film fail at telling an action/adventure story that is also funny.  But The Tick nails this tricky tone spot-on.  The show clearly doesn’t have an enormous budget for super-heroics, but what we see works just well enough.  The characters all feel real, even the outlandish ones — everything is just grounded enough to allow us to accept that all this crazy stuff is happening in an understandable and believable universe.  The character relationships are fleshed out and have real weight.  And most important of all, the show is very funny.

What more can I ask for?  Until Joss Whedon ever decides to give us more Dr. Horrible, this super-hero parody/comedy fills the void.  The Tick is a must-see.  At only six half-hour episodes, you’ll zip through it at a rapid pace.  (I sure did.)  I can’t wait for the next six episodes, coming next month!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone