It wouldn’t have been out of line to be skeptical about Amazon’s The Tick series. When the show debuted with the first half of season 1 late last summer, it had been 16 years since the last live-action adaptation of Ben Edlund’s beloved satirical superhero comic book — a show that’s fondly remembered, but only lasted for nine episodes.
Yet it was clear that this version of The Tick, starring Peter Serafinowicz as the title character and Griffin Newman as Arthur, was a little different — updated to fit the times. While the original Tick comic book reflected superhero comics, the Fox Kids animated series parodied Saturday morning cartoons and the 2001 Fox show echoed network sitcoms, Amazon’s The Tick is a reflection of its edgier comics-based contemporaries, like Netflix’s Marvel shows or The Walking Dead. It’s a little more violent, a little darker and a little more mature than past Tick adaptations, but some things never change — like Arthur’s skepticism and The Tick’s boundless optimism (and endearing cluelessness).
With the second half of season one now streaming on Amazon and the show already renewed for a second season, CBR sat down with both Edlund and The Tick executive producer Barry Josephson (who was also an executive producer on the 2001 series) to discuss what they like about the second half of season one, how The Tick remains gloriously consistent no matter what situation he’s in, nailing the tricky tone of the show and tentative plans for season two. Here’s a hint: More characters familiar to Tick fans from past iterations are on their way, along with plenty of new faces.
CBR: Ben, Barry, what do both of you really like about this set of episodes? To me, as a viewer, this is where the fun stuff kicks in — the table is set and things are moving and the characters are having fun together.
Ben Edlund: That’s really a big part of it. This is a show that starts with a character who’s reluctant, doesn’t want to be a hero, and gets drawn into that world. Second half, he’s in, so we get to really have fun. That’s where, to me, it’s really enjoyable. We’re up and running when we can go from a book reading with a talking dog to an argument with his ex-partner — all of those things, that’s when we’re really going, and I feel like we’ve started to get to the world-building. It’s started to pay us back. Then we’re really having fun.
Barry Josephson: I think, for me, the beginning of the season, because you’re telling an origin story, we were very dedicated to that. It starts with a guy alone, not sure of himself or anything. Now, the second half of the season, he’s got his suit, he has his power, he has somebody who supports him 100 percent — although unreliable, he’s there.
His universe has expanded now. There’s Dot trying to figure things out, there’s Overkill, there’s Midnight, there’s so much more happening. Walter plays a good part, his mom, Miss Lint. The world expands so much. The Terror being a real thing — not a suspected thing — I think is a big deal for the second part of the season, and we get to enjoy that. That’s something I really love about the second half of the season. Getting to see those characters flourish.
An interesting aspect of this version of The Tick is the tone of it. There’s still the absurdity and the silliness, but the stakes are also pretty high and get higher as the season progresses. There’s also a lot of genuine emotional stakes, as well. What was that like in creating the show? Was it something you were keenly aware you wanted to bring to it?
Edlund: It felt like it was the prerequisite of doing this again. Coming from the previous live-action — [the] hardest thing I had ever done was the previous live-action, so I knew that doing this again was going to be very difficult. So if it was going to be very difficult, just because of all the things that this production requires; to make it worth it, the story needed to matter. That was the challenge, and that’s what the first season is all about. Grounding Arthur in a psychological truth, so that you go, “Oh, I get it. I can see why that guy might do the things necessary to put himself in the position that Tick wants him to be in.”
After Barry came to me and asked, “Do you want to do this?” I said, “No.” Then I thought about it for a while, and I realized there’s a way of making Arthur’s truth kind of work, where you care about him like a real, live-action character, and you care about what he cares about — in this case, it’s The Tick and his world. That was really important, because doing it again without that, I think, would have been just retreading.
Josephson: And I’m in awe of watching Ben create. It’s remarkable. There’s a lot of emphasis on The Tick and Arthur and their relationship, but for me, I love, in the second half, watching Overkill grow. It’s almost like Overkill is Arthur’s alter ego. He’s been hurt and wronged in a very similar way, but yet, he was a superhero. He is now completely hellbent on the same sort of thing that Arthur is, but they come from two completely different places, and are two completely different people. However, it really does work on a very parallel level. It’s really interesting. I love watching Overkill play out in the second half of the season.
Edlund: Yeah, that was one of the really fun parts of the second half.
Josephson: Because of his tragedy — he’s arrested development, too.
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