Verdict: 4 / 5
I love The Tick, from the comic books to the cartoons and the 2001 live-action series starring Patrick Warburton. When Amazon originally aired the pilot for this series and asked their viewers to vote on it, I endorsed it and urged readers to back this project – although I did point out that there were a few flaws which needed fixing.
Recently I was asked if I wanted to do a phone interview with the crew responsible for this, but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I’d hoped to do an email interview rather, but that wasn’t possible. Given my love of The Tick in all its other forms, I was hugely disappointed. There’s the danger of that huge disappointment making me negatively biased. Still, here goes.
The world may be full of superheroes and supervillains, but there aren’t as many of them as there used to be. The world’s greatest super team was destroyed in a weaponized syphilis attack years ago, and the villainous Terror was blown to bits with nothing left of him except his teeth. But Arthur, a mild-mannered accountant with Fishladder & Sons, believes the Terror is still alive. While researching his conspiracy theory, he meets the Tick – destiny’s righteous hero blessed with amazing strength, unlimited optimism and a lack of brainpower. When the Tick drags Arthur into the never-ending battle for truth and justice, they stumble across a criminal plot so dastardly it could only be the handiwork of one man…
I love it! You hear me, world? I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!
While the first episode is basically the same pilot which had flaws, from the second episode onwards this show goes to great lengths to fix them up and succeeds. Yet right from the beginning there’s such a dry sense of humour at play that it’s impossible not to chuckle at some of the jokes. Yet for all the laughs this show generates, it isn’t strictly a comedy and it’s clearly having fun with the world of superheroes and not mocking it.
The plot is simple but incredibly well executed, with two key components: Arthur’s quest to prove the Terror is still alive and bring him to justice, and the villains’ plot to acquire the armoured battle-suit which Arthur acquires. Because of this, the two key story elements keep crashing into each other and mayhem ensues to ridiculous levels, with some of the smartest writing seen on TV in years. There’s also a smart punchline-before-the-setup delivery system with some jokes, making you re-evaluate seemingly bizarre statements from earlier episodes with greater understanding, rewarding multiple viewings.
Equally, all the characters of the world Arthur and The Tick inhabit are given moments to shine. The wonderful Miss Lint, who struggles to balance being a supervillain with her personal life where she’s cohabiting with her ex-husband, steals almost every scene. Meanwhile, Overkill – a hero who’s part Deadpool, part Punisher, and too stabby for The Tick’s liking – is constantly having relationship issues with the hilarious Dangerboat, the AI system in his lair.
If there’s any one character who comes across as being weak, bizarrely it’s The Tick himself. For all his bombastic statements, he seems strangely small and on the sidelines for too much of each episode, although it’s more a case of Arthur’s story and the other characters being more interesting to watch, rather than through any fault of the writing or performance.
Are there any other flaws? A couple. The Tick’s suit still doesn’t quite look right, the narrative may be a bit too confusing for some… but the biggest problem has to be that this is only six episodes long. By the end of them, you’ll wish they’d made more and the show ends just as the story starts hitting top speed. Message received loud and clear, Amazon. If we want more, we’ve got to let you know.
This may not have the high profile as shows like The Flash, The Defenders and Legion, but The Tick is every bit as good if not better. With so few good superhero comedies out there, this is exactly the show the world needs.