The Tick, Season One
My introduction to The Tick came in the late 90s, with the animated series. A few of my grad school friends and I would get together each week, eat Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and watch The Tick (and a few other shows.)
I loved it. I loved the humor, the silliness, the undermining of superhero tropes, and the overall sense of fun.
This was my background as I logged onto Amazon Prime to watch their live-action take on The Tick.
It felt like the entire show was filmed using the same Gritty Angst Filter they used on Batman v Superman. They managed to make The Tick almost entirely joyless.
- Arthur is mentally ill, on medication for PTSD and other troubles, as a result of watching his father killed in front of him, then watching his favorite superhero team blinded and murdered by The Terror.
- The Tick has no memory of where he came from. This plot thread pretty much disappears, but it sets up The Tick as a tragic figure.
- Random violence, swearing, and killing. I don’t object to these things in stories, but they often felt gratuitous and pointless.
- There’s a hero named Superian, who has no connection at all to the story. He’s just there in random expository scenes about the world. Maybe he’ll have a point in the second season?
- For the most part, the show simply wasn’t funny.
Let me put it this way. Does the idea of a villain using weaponized syphilis to blind his enemies, then showing up to shoot them dead while they stagger about, strike you as funny? If so, you might get a kick out of this show. Me, I just cringed.
There were some good moments. I laughed at one of the very first lines: “Your reindeer are on fire.” And the show improved a bit in the last episode or two. I particularly liked the interplay between The Tick and Overkill (the show’s Punisher character). The Tick’s scolding “Don’t encourage him” as he catches a thrown machete was perfect. The Tick’s interactions with Arthur’s step-father were wonderful as well.
I didn’t need this to be a repeat of the animated show I loved. But it felt like it tried way too hard to be dark and gritty and edgy, at the cost of the heart and joy I was hoping for.
With all that said, I might still watch the next batch of six episodes when they come out. (I’m told that technically, this won’t be season two, but the second half of season one.) If they continue to improve the way they did in those last couple of episodes…
But for now, I’m rating this a solid disappointment.
Note: When I mentioned my feelings about the show on Twitter, someone pointed out that it had good scores over at Rotten Tomato. I’m not sure what the point was supposed to be. I’m not saying nobody else likes the show, or that nobody else is allowed to like it. I’m just sharing the reasons I didn’t.
Daryl L Olson
September 13, 2017 @ 12:00 pm
This reminds me a lot of the arguments when the animated show came out. Except then it was the comics people not liking the animated because it lost the dark humor that was in the original comics. For example the stuff about tick not knowing who he was or if he was wearing a costume were in there. I’d agree that people who fell in love with the complete nuttiness of the cartoon won’t get what they were expecting with the new series and might outright hate it. Very different type of humor.
September 13, 2017 @ 2:16 pm
Did you see the 2001 live-action version with Patrick Warburton as The Tick on Fox? It wasn’t as good as the animated version, but I liked it. In that version, because of rights issues, some characters had to be changed a bit. Die Fledermaus became Batmanuel and American Maid became Captain Liberty. The show had only a short run, nine episodes I think.
Jim C. Hines
September 13, 2017 @ 3:34 pm
Dennis – Never saw the earlier live-action, though I’ve heard good things about Warburton as The Tick.
September 13, 2017 @ 3:59 pm
The Warburton version is available on Crackle, Sony’s obscure ad-supported streaming service.
September 13, 2017 @ 6:23 pm
Warburton was awesome. The rest of the show not so much. But at least it grasped the Tick is meant to be funny. I saw the Amazon pilot and had the same reaction you did, but I wondered if maybe the series would be different … obviously not.
September 14, 2017 @ 12:04 am
I loved both the cartoon and the Warburton version. This one… I watched the pilot and wasn’t impressed. If it came out earlier in the summer, maybe but now TV is coming back and I won’t lack for options of stuff I like.
September 14, 2017 @ 8:26 am
I still think of The Tick whenever I put the washing machine on – “Laundry” as the hypnotised Tick watches the washing go round, which at least keeps him out of Arthur’s way while he gets on with the rest of the cleaning. 😀
Daryl L Olson
September 14, 2017 @ 8:41 am
I’ve enjoyed all the different versions in different ways. I started with the comics so that’s always going to be my favorite. Like Fraser I loved Warburton even though the series never quite came together. I’m already really liking the latest series and now that we’re mostly past the backstory I think I’m going to like what’s next even more. Throw in some Man Eating Cow and Paul the Samurai and I’ll be in love. Also, Tick really needs to yell SPOON at least once.
September 14, 2017 @ 8:19 pm
Yeah, I loved the blaxk and white comics, as slow as they came out, eventually going color and losing their snap. Warburton did the comic proud, he got the heroic presence great. I missed the animated, and this second live action just looks sad. Tick has acres of presence, even if he’s crazy north by northwest. Arthur was never that broken, but amused. The ads for the new had no interest, the wacky things like Spoon! for Tick are as much a part as the batarang is for Bats. Parody is hard to televise and your list is so sad.
September 15, 2017 @ 12:29 am
Does it have Die Fledermaus/Batmanuel or no? This is a critical point. Also, what about Arthur’s sister?
I’m sure the comics were more subversive, and the live action with Warburton paid some tribute to that. We loved the animated series and still quote from it (how can they not have “Spoon!”), liked the brief live action one and I can’t imagine anyone else but Warburton doing Tick for live action now. I don’t quite get why they are making this one like Jessica Jones. That just doesn’t work for the Tick.
Jim C. Hines
September 15, 2017 @ 10:20 am
KatG – No Die Fledermaus or any other heroes, aside from our Duo and the aforementioned Overkill. (And random Superian bits.)
They do have Dot, who works as a nurse and moonlights patching up injured villains for money. She’s also the one who looks after Arthur.
September 18, 2017 @ 2:05 am
We watched the first four episodes so far. It’s a different take but has some of the same basics. We found more humor in it than you did, though some of it is very dark humor. And the Alan Tudyk cameo was entertaining. It’s kind of like an alternate universe version of The Tick, which I guess if you look at all the variations that have been done, they are all alternate universes of the same basic concept. This one was more tragi-comedy and meditative, but there is still the playfulness to it. However, the lack of Die Fledermaus and only one Batman reference/joke is a disappointment.