If you grew up watching cartoons in the 90’s then you’re probably no stranger to The Tick, the tale of a confident yet clueless superhero in a blue rubber suit and his mild-mannered sidekick Arthur as they rid the city of various goofy supervillains.
Created by Ben Edlund, the animated series ran from 1994 to 1996 and it was certainly way ahead of its time. Poking fun at every superhero cliché with tons of wit and energy, The Tick was immensely clever, extremely silly and a heck of a lot of fun. Had the series been first released when Marvel started enjoying hit after hit with its live-action comic book movies then it would have quickly reached Rick & Morty levels of success for sure. The cartoon series did gain a cult following, however, and a live-action sitcom based on it was eventually made starring Patrick Warburton in the title role.
This 2001 show, it should be said, was pretty perfect and one couldn’t have asked for a better adaptation with Warburton instantly proving the ideal choice for The Tick but due to networks not giving it the push it needed, it was sadly cancelled after barely a season. This year, one of the main comedy pilots ordered by Amazon was, you’ve guessed it, The Tick: a sort-of reboot of the live-action sitcom except with a darker, grittier tone and Peter Serafinowicz as the pontificating superhero. The new Pilot episode retells the story of Arthur, this time played by Griffin Newman, and his first encounter with mysterious super-strong hero The Tick. Arthur’s backstory is fleshed out and instead of being just a bored pushover looking for justice, he’s a troubled loner obsessed with taking down The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), the sadistic villain who killed his father.
The episode opens with Superman-like superhero Superian talking about how he killed The Terror on a talk show hosted by none other than Whoopi Goldberg but Arthur’s not convinced as he’s been conducting his own investigation and believes that The Terror is not only alive but stronger than ever. While on a stakeout, he meets The Tick and, after the latter presents him with a grand self-introduction, they part ways and later reunite when The Tick randomly shows up in Arthur’s apartment. We get a glimpse at The Terror’s intimidating henchmen and the episode ends in a cliffhanger as Arthur discovers his own super-sidekick costume while bad guys come for him and we’re left wondering whether The Tick is, in fact, a fragment of his imagination.
This darker take on The Tick, it turns out, works surprisingly well with the antagonists coming off as genuine, believable threats and Arthur feeling much more like a three-dimensional character you actually care about. Peter Serafinowicz may not look quite as good in that suit as Patrick Warburton did but he certainly nails the character’s voice and personality. Fans of The Tick and even the uninitiated should find plenty in this Pilot to want to see more and I, for one, would welcome this new series which should present a worthy alternative to The CW and Netflix’s recent superhero-themed output.
You can check out The Tick’s Pilot and voice your opinion of it on Amazon.com.