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.

Spoilers follow…

  • 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.