The Tick is one of the more beloved superhero parodies, especially because of the fondly remembered cartoon and short-lived 2001 live-action series starring Patrick Warburton. It makes sense, with so many successful superhero movies and TV shows these days, that The Tick got a brand-spanking-new live-action series. Amazon provided us with that series, and it’s pretty great so far. It’s fun and keeps you interested, capturing the magic of the comic and two prior-series while adding its own elements into the mix. However, it isn’t perfect, it has a lot of great things working for it, but some things haven’t quite hit, as well.
To be fair, the first season has only realized six of twelve episodes — one of the flaws of the series that can be pinned on combating binge-watching — and thus we haven’t gotten enough time with The Tick and Arthur. When the rest of the season is released, we’ll have more to work with, but for now, The Tick‘s first few episodes were solid, though not without its faults. With a mix of the source material, previous series and original ideas, Amazon’s The Tick has a lot to offer, but do these outweight the negatives? Read on!
15. WORKED: PORTRAYAL OF MENTAL ILLNESS
The majority of the first six episodes of The Tick focus on Arthur and how he deals with the loss of his father. Years prior to the series, The Terror crashed Arthur’s favorite superheroes, the Flag Five, on top of Arthur’s dad. Since then, The Terror has died, but Arthur, driven by the loss and the resulting mental illness, believes The Terror is still alive and works constantly to find evidence of it.
The Tick takes this premise in its stride, realistically depicting Arthur’s mental illness, how he struggles with it, and how The Tick affects his mental state. The Tick is an infallible symbol of justice and all that is good, everything Arthur saw in The Flag Five, and everything he wants to be in avenging his father. The Tick acts both as a challenger of his mental stability and a means to help Arthur move past his trauma.
14. DIDN’T WORK: FOCUS ON ARTHUR
Yes, we know we just praised the depiction of Arthur’s internal struggle, but in all honesty, he got a bit too much focus. Don’t get us wrong, his character arc in the first six episodes is excellently-written, but we hope it doesn’t take up the entire season. What we’re trying to say is, the show is called The Tick, so why wasn’t he the focus?
Perhaps this is just how the first arc went, and later seasons will focus on Tick and Arthur equally. Still, The Tick in general gets very little focus, not enough to get a feel for the character — despite how simple Tick is, there’s a lot to explore about him. Basically, this season was Arthur’s origin story, which is fine — the cartoon had its own short “origin” of the character — but we still think there could be more of The Tick in The Tick.
13. WORKED: DEPICTION OF THE TICK
With what little of the Tick we have seen so far, there’s a lot to love. He’s a big blue idiot with a heart of gold and an unwavering sense of justice. He’s kind of a dim-witted goofball, but his intentions are always in the right place. The Amazon series does a good job of taking the character’s core points, and elements of former depictions, and mixing them with some new ideas.
A lot of this is due to Peter Serafinowicz’s acting, but we’ll get to that later. Amazon’s depiction of The Tick is only aware of three things: he is a superhero, a sense of justice and the call of destiny. The third one is the kicker, as one of the Tick’s funniest and most good-hearted aspects in the Amazon series is that he thinks of destiny as a real-person, one who sings to him.
12. DIDN’T WORK: THE VILLAINS
There are three villains that take center stage in the opening salvo of The Tick: The Terror, Miss Lint and Ramses IV. And, to be honest, they all fall a little flat. Let’s start with The Terror, who’s actually the only villain from the original comics (and the only one to appear in all three TV series). The Terror is actually a great character, both scary and funny and a great supervillain parody, but he doesn’t serve that strongly as a plot point.
Further, The Terror lessens the strength of Miss Lint as a character by “aiding” her in her rise to villainy. Meaning, Miss Lint is literally and figuratively powerless without The Terror — he built bands to help control her powers and she is devastated into subservience to Ramses IV by his death; thus, she has no agenda without him. As for Ramses IV, his problem is that he is, in a word, forgettable.
11. WORKED: THE COSTUMES
Ignoring The Tick’s costume in the pilot of the series, the second costume is a huge improvement, adding just enough detail to the comic/cartoon onsie suit. Arthur’s suit is a bit more of a departure from the comics and cartoon, and its written as a battle-suit with more-high-tech functions than other interpretations. Regardless, it’s a great design that is both cool-looking and just silly enough to fit into the crazy superhero-parody world of The Tick.
The Terror has an amazing costume, a scary look (especially with all the makeup and creepy eyes) that is unique to any other supervillains in comics and TV. Then there’s Overkill, whose design is an awesome mashup of The Punisher, Deathstroke and sci-fi super-soldiers. Last but not least is Superian, the Superman stand-in who’s got a great suit that isn’t too derivative of the characters that inspired him.
10. DIDN’T WORK: CUT SHORT
After the pilot was released, Amazon picked up The Tick for a 12-episode season. As of right now, only six episodes have been released, and it doesn’t work in the show’s favor. For one thing, the first six episodes are Arthur’s story, leaving little time for the titular character. The show is good enough that we’re left wanting more, but in the age of binge-watching, the audience has built a ravenous appetite that needs satiating.
There are a lot of loose threads left at the end of episode six, some that have so many unanswered questions. If these were at the end of the season, it would outrage fans; we’re still experiencing that effect since there’s no word on when the next episodes come out. There’s clearly a long game plan for this series, though, as Tick creator Ben Edlund said the season was split up to build anticipation.
9. WORKED: HUMOR
It goes without saying that The Tick is supposed to be funny — he’s a superhero parody after all — and Amazon’s The Tick definitely got this part right. The Tick himself is lovably absent-minded, misconstruing most things as part of both his and Arthur’s “dance with destiny.” Even Arthur has his own comedic bits in the way he deals with The Tick constantly popping up in his life. Of course, the biggest laughs come from the superhero world the series takes place in.
For example, there’s the Very Large Man (or “VLM”) who is, you guessed it, a very large man who’s just walking around, destroying things by accident. There’s also a talking dog, a former sidekick to one of the Flag Five, who wrote a best-selling book. Oh, and Superian has the power to turn bad coffee into pumpkin spice with eye lasers, that’s just gold.
8. DIDN’T WORK: DRAMATIC TONE
There’s no doubt that The Tick is funny — some parts make you genuinely laugh out loud — but the main tone of the show seems to be more of a dramatic one. Again, this may just be because the first six episodes are focused on Arthur’s story, but it feels a bit too dark. It seems like The Tick slightly fell victim to the “gritty reboot” trend in how the series was approached.
The show isn’t as dark as, say, Batman V. Superman, but The Tick as a concept is a superhero satire, and in that regard, it yet remains to be seen whether it can achieve that commentary with suitable style. This would have to be the biggest issue we had with the series; The Tick doesn’t need to be an off-the-walls insane parody, but it just felt like a superhero world with some funny elements, not all that unique from the likes of the MCU.
7. WORKED: ACTING
The acting on The Tick is what really brings the characters to life, especially the big blue bug of justice himself. Peter Serafinowicz is fantastic as The Tick, large and in charge with a deep, booming voice that fits with his spot-on portrayal of the character, whose tendency to ramble out nonsensical motivational hero speeches is beyond compare (and great). Griffin Newman makes for a fun neurotic and frightened fish-out-of-water in Arthur, bringing a strong portrayal of tragedy to the role (though as we mentioned, perhaps too much).
Scott Speiser is hilarious as an overly serious Overkill, and Alan Tudyk — in one of his many surprise voice-over roles — provides the overly-human voice of Dangerboat, Overkill’s beat-obsessed AI boat. Yara Martinez is excellent as a frustrated and irritable Miss Lint, while Jackie Earle Haley (who you might know as Rorschach) is intimidating and hysterical as The Terror, talking like an old geezer but acting like a classic cartoon villain.
6. DIDN’T WORK: SMALL CAST
As great as the actors are, there really aren’t that many characters in The Tick. While the focus on Arthur and the Tick is good, The Tick was always known for having a wide variety of strange and satirical superhero and villain characters that were running around the crazy superhero world. Of course, the show has a limited budget, and we’ve yet to see the rest of the first season, but the superhero world felt a bit lacking, even as it felt improperly focused.
Hopefully, the rest of the this season (as well as those subsequent, should we be lucky enough to get them) will have a bit more to offer in terms of supporting (and background) characters. It’d be great to see Tick and Arthur join a superhero team, or at the very least, meet up with a other superheroes and fight a large cast of villains. Let’s hope we’ll see more of the superhero world in the rest of season 1.
5. WORKED: EFFECTS
Superhero TV shows are a bit of a gamble when it comes to special effects. Marvel’s Netflix series have great effects while things like the CW’s The Flash has super speed CGI down to a science. However, there are some flops like Powers or Smallville, whose effects were hampered by small budgets or being born in an unwieldy era. But for the most part, it doesn’t take away from the quality of these shows.
This isn’t an issue with The Tick, since the effects are pretty solid for a TV show, especially a streaming-service original. There are some parts that aren’t on the same level as big-budget films — which is to be expected — but for the most part, the CGI, stunt-work and practical effects all work well. There’s just enough creative effects work to make the action feel real and impactful, especially in the final, climactic scene of episode six.
4. DIDN’T WORK: SUPERIAN
This one isn’t to say that the character of Superian didn’t work, he’s a great character as we’ve mentioned, but he just didn’t get enough screen time. It’s pretty clear that there’s a larger story-arc being set in place for the Superman stand-in, but again, the issue of the split-up season doesn’t help. The creators of the show said that the first season is split up to build anticipation, but by doing so, Superian’s story and character feel like a last minute addition.
Superian serves well to set up the idea that The Terror is “dead,” and even works as a funny Superman parody, but other than that, all of his scenes seem unnecessary. Obviously, they play part in a bigger picture, but if we’re talking strictly about the first six episodes, Superian’s scenes seem to have no purpose and show little of his character.
3. WORKED: OVERKILL
While so far Superian is a bit of a let-down, the other original hero character, Overkill, was fantastic. His character definitely checks all the right boxes of the world of The Tick. He’s an overly gritty, overly violent (thus the accurate name) anti-hero who’s super-serious personality is played hilariously. Plus, he has robot eyes, uses giant scissor-looking blades and wears a cyborg skull mask, which is objectively badass!
Overkill steals the show in most of his scenes, from the comedic portrayal to how he bickers with his boat AI/roommate Dangerboat — he’s the perfect Tick character. Overkill also serves well as a plot point, looking to prove that The Terror is alive and harassing Arthur for answers. There’s also some mystery behind Overkill, making us excited to see what the rest of the season will reveal about his character.
2. DIDN’T WORK: PACING
With only 12 episodes ordered for the first season, it’s a little disappointing that the first half was dedicated strictly to one story. Again, Arthur’s story could have been condensed to maybe three episodes, leaving room for more superhero adventures for he and Tick. Arthur doesn’t truly accept his destiny as a hero until the last few minutes of episode six, and we just think a lot more could have been done in a lot less time.
Who’s to say what’s going to happen in the next half of the first season of The Tick, but we hope theres a bit more variety to the story. Six episodes is a lot of time to spend on one story arc, especially when that’s half the season, so we hope things move a bit faster in the latter half once it gets released. We want to reiterate here that Arthur’s rise as a hero was a fantastic story arc, it just moved a bit too slow.
1. WORKED: CLIMAX
As slow as the first six episodes are, it’s all worth it for the climax of Arthur’s story arc. After resisting The Tick and his talk of destiny, Arthur eventually becomes a hero. He simply wants to prove that The Terror is still alive, but he slowly comes to realize that he may need to take action to save people; he can’t simply work in the background.
All of Arthur’s confusing and conflicting thoughts and motivations accumulate when Arthur can no longer, as The Tick puts it, “Ignore the call of destiny.” A bus full of people are in danger and The Tick is busy holding it from falling, so it’s up to Arthur to be a hero. He can’t just passively help people, he must act, and he does so, using his suit confidently to save the people on the bus, bringing his heroic origin to a climax. Finally!
What do you think of The Tick so far? Will you be sticking around for the second half of Season 1? Let us know in the comments!
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