REVIEW: THE TICK – SEASON 2

The Tick (2017)

MAIN CAST

Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Griffin Newman (Draft Day)
Valorie Curry (Blair Witch)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Yara Martinez (Jane The Virgin)
Scott Speiser (6 Ways To Die)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Happy Anderson (The Knick)
François Chau (Lost)
John Hodgman (Arthur)
Patricia Kalember (Signs)
Marc Kudisch (Smash)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Tom O’Keefe (The Gifted)
Joshua Schubart (After)
Adam Henry Garcia (Royal Pains)
Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead)
Lucas Dixon (A Picture of You)
Brian Faherty (Measure of a Man)
Grant Harrison (Snafu)
Jade Elysan (Bonding)
Clara Wong (Louie)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Clé Bennett (Heroes Reborn)

MV5BMTg3MjY1MDUxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzczNTU2NzM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Certain comedies get better as they go along, when the writers and the actors have all had a chance to gel and figure out what everyone’s strengths and weakness are. That’s certainly true of Amazon’s The Tick, as it feels almost like an entirely new show at the start of season 2. Some of that is certainly due to the show’s continued refinement of Tick’s (Peter Serafinowicz) suit (or is it his body?), The new suit is much more practical, and it allows for a greater range of motion for the man wearing it, which in turn lets The Tick worry less about how its title character looks and more about the level of self-awareness it wants to infuse into its ongoing story of hopelessly flawed superheroes fighting crime in a city called the City.The Dark Crystal_BreaAt times it felt as though season 1 of The Tick was an attempt for the show to find how it fit with the current glut of superhero films and TV series as much as it was about the effort of Tick and his nascent sidekick, Arthur (Griffin Newman), to root out evil and discover their place among the alleged pantheon of heroes sworn to protecting the City. Tone and pacing were common issues throughout the first season, which were then exacerbated by a protracted midseason break (almost six months). And still, even upon the series’ return, the balance between humor and superhero action felt off and the serialized nature of the series couldn’t quite turn a plot involving the return of the Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) into the kind of energized storytelling previous incarnations of The Tick enjoyed.the-tick-season-2-peter-serafinowiczThat isn’t an issue for season 2, which returns a funnier, faster-paced, and far more confident series than it was in season 1. From the first episode on, The Tick feels very much like the buddy comedy it was meant to be. Serafinowicz and Newman enjoy an easy chemistry with one another, which along with the self-aware, super-heroic dialogue, becomes key to the season’s early success. It helps that Arthur is fully committed to his role as a superhero, and that his family is (for the most part) supportive of his decision to pursue a life of crimefighting while also being an accountant. Removing the will they or won’t they from Tick and Arthur’s relationship gets the series off on the right foot, allowing the show to lean into the absurdity of its premise and its characters by making it all seem perfectly normal for these two heroes.dimsSeason 2 has some help in the normalizing department, as the defeat of the Terror has brought a huge influx of extremely weird (and often ridiculous) heroes and villains to the City, thanks in large part to A.E.G.I.S (The Tick’s cheeky riff on S.H.I.E.L.D.) re-opening a branch in Tick and Arthur’s neck of the woods. That opens the door for the series to get precisely as weird as it need to, introducing characters like Steve Ogg’s semi-retired Flexon (a Tick analogue to Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic), John Hodgman’s Hobbes, and Marc Kudisch as the hyper masculine, tough-as-nails head of A.E.G.I.S., Tyrannosaurus ‘Ty’ Rathbone. Part of what has made The Tick an enduring character since the 1980s is the ever-changing community of oddballs he is surrounded by. While Arthur is and will always be the Watson to his dim-bulb Sherlock Holmes, the franchise has proven adept at introducing new characters who are inherently ridiculous but just serious enough to work, and to keep things fresh, interesting, and funny.zUOS95Hv_400x400Season 2 also introduces a new plot line for Arthur’s sister Dot (Valerie Curry), as she begins to wonder whether or not Arthur’s the only one in the family destined to spend their spare time seeking justice. This thread works to give Tick and Arthur some breathing room, but it also spares Curry from being primarily relegated to reacting to the danger her onscreen sibling finds himself in. In her expanded role, Dot manages to get into some trouble and forge a bond with Overkill (Scott Speiser), which, in turn, offers that character a chance to be something more than a spoof on hyper-violent vigilante characters who rose to prominence in the ‘90s. The biggest improvements in season 2, however, are in how the season is structured. Though the overarching narrative of the season is still serialized, each episode functions on its own as a complete episode of television. Having a distinct beginning, middle, and end focuses the story and the comedy on more specific elements integral to the episode at hand. As a result, the jokes are funnier, the action livelier, and the story threads more compelling.the-tick-season-2-peter-serafinowicz-griffin-newman-interview-slice-600x200All in all, The Tick returns with the terrific new season of television. More heroes, more villains — all of them ridiculous in their own way — means more opportunities for laughs and for superhero action. Much like the Tick’s costume, the series received the right kind of upgrade in between seasons, and in doing so has become a real contender in the world of superhero TV.

REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 1

Starring

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (The Secret Circle)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Richard T. Jones (Santa Clarita Diet)

Thomas Dekker and Lena Headey in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Owain Yeoman (Supergirl)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Charlayne Woodard (Glass)
Dean Winters (Rough Night)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle: Creation)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Jonathan Sadowski (Cherbnoyble Diaries)
Sabrina Perez (Rebel)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Jesse Garcia (The Green Ghost)
Adam Godley (Breaking Bad)
Catherine Dent (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Floriana Lima (Supergirl)
Brian Bloom (The A-Team)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Kristina Apgar (90210)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Jonathan Jackson (Nashville)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
James Urbaniak (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay)

Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)When I heard that a TV series based on the Terminator franchise was in the works, I didn’t holding out much hope that it would be very good. Don’t get me wrong, I like the franchise. I was blown away by Terminator when I saw it during the original theatrical release and was astounded that the second film was as good, if not better, than the original. The third film was wretched however, and I just couldn’t see how they could work a TV series around the premise without it getting silly. After a bumpy first episode however, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles surprised me. It turned out to be an intelligent yet fun look at the Terminator universe that works quite well.Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Starting a while after the events that took place in Terminator 2, Sarah (Lena Headey) and her son John Connor (Thomas Dekker), the boy who will end up being mankind’s only hope in the future have still not settled down. After running for years and years Sarah doesn’t know how to stop. When her current boyfriend proposes she takes John and runs away, one more time.Lena Headey in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)John ends up in yet another new school where he meets Cameron (Summer Glau) a cute girl who seems to genuinely like him. It turns out that she doesn’t have the hots for him so much as that she’s been programmed to protect him. Yes, she’s a Terminator sent from the future, and where there’s a good Terminator, there’s a bad version too, sent to kill John. With Cameron’s help John escapes from a substitute teacher/Terminator but he’s one the run once more.Luis Chávez and Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Cameron has a unique idea to get away from the Terminator that’s been assigned to John once and for all: They rob a bank. Inside a series of safety deposit boxes are the ingredients for a time machine. In Cameron’s time, a group of resistance scientists were sent in the past to fabricate a time travel device and hide it in the bank for just such an escape. The small group of Sarah, John, and Cameron lock themselves inside the vault while the robot from the future creates the device and a T-800 Terminator tries to break in. They manage to leap to the year 2007 just at the last moment, but unbeknownst to them the head of the Terminator travels with them.Thomas Dekker, Lena Headey, and Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Neatly bypassing the events of T-3, the series jumps to the present time where Sarah is still alive and John isn’t a drug addict but the war with the robots still impending. Of course there are still dangers. The head that came into the present with them goes about trying to refashion a body for itself. There’s also a group of fighters sent into the past to aide John and Cameron, but when they are located, it’s too late; all but one of their number has been slaughtered by a Terminator.Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)With several interesting subplots that carry through the season, included finding the maker of a chess computer that may have started the great war and staying one step ahead of an FBI agent who has been chasing the Connors for years, this show packs a lot of excitement into the nine episodes (the season was cut short by the writer’s strike.) It definitely gets better as it goes along too. The writers become more familiar with the characters and the writing gets tighter and the show more enjoyable.The acting is very good across the board. Lena Headey isn’t a Linda Hamilton look-alike but she manages to capture the strengths of the character as Hamilton did and still make it her own. Over the course of the series she manages to show Sarah’s vulnerable side, something that surely exists but rarely peaked out in the movies. Though Sarah’s name is in the title, the show would have crumbled without a good actor playing John, and Thomas Dekker manages to pull off the difficult role. He has to be strong and independent, but not fool-hardy. Dekker gives John those traits, while still making him act like a teenager with an over protective mother. Some of the best scenes are where John is trying to deal with his mother, something that every teenager has problems with.Thomas Dekker in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Summer Glau will be instantly recognized from Firefly. I loved her in that show, but was a bit disappointed that she basically plays the same role in this series. She has the same “not sure what’s going on” look as River did, and I was hoping to see her play a different role here. Even if it is the same character essentially, Summer pulls it off well. Though not at all Summer’s fault, the writers did put the “small waif-like girl kicks the big burly man’s ass” scene in the series a bit too often. Yeah, it’s funny, but after a while it becomes trite.Lena Headey in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)I wasn’t expecting much from this show. After all, how could you make a weekly series that could compete with the first two movies? The creators managed to pull it off and made a show with some intelligent plots and interesting stories. There are a few surprises along the way that add a lot to the show, and make this a must-buy for fans of the Terminator franchise.

REVIEW: THE TICK (2017) – SEASON 1 – PART 2

The Tick (2017)

MAIN CAST

Peter Serafinowicz (spy)
Griffin Newman (Draft day0
Valorie Curry (Blair Witch)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Yara Martinez (Jane The Virgin)

Peter Serafinowicz in The Tick (2017)

RECURRING NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Francois Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Townsend Coleman (Black Moon Rising)
Bryan Greenberg (Prime)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Scott Speiser (6 Ways To Die)
Jacqueline Antaramian (Counterpart)
Thomas Kopache (Cath Me If You Can)
Matt Gehring (Dates Like This)
Geoffrey Cantor (Daredevil)
Patricia Kalember (Signs)

The Tick (2017)I’ll admit it. When I heard Amazon was rebooting superhero sendup “The Tick,” I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I started watching the first six episodes mostly opposed to the idea, arms crossed, mumbling things like “this isn’t my ‘Tick.'” You know what? I was wrong. Completely wrong. Please accept my apologies for being such an obstinate fool. Now that I’ve seen a full season of “Tick” creator Ben Edlund’s and Executive Producer Barry Josephson’s vision for rebooting the franchise, I’m convinced this might be the best iteration yet. We still get to enjoy the goofball antics of Tick and Arthur, complete with hilarious sight gags, puns and awkward moments, but by making Arthur (Griffin Newman) the focus this time around, there’s an added thread that offers better opportunities for characters to evolve and grow.Peter Serafinowicz in The Tick (2017)If the original live-action series offered nonstop laughs in an insane asylum, this “Tick” provides a laugh a minute, but they’re far more satisfying. Don’t worry though, hard-core fans: classics like “SPOON!” still work comfortably within the show’s framework. Peter Serafinowicz’s version of the Tick is the same one we’ve known and loved for over 30 years: a superpowered, super joyful, big blue something or other with a head full of cotton balls. After six episodes, Arthur finally came to some acceptance of his role as a kind-of-hero in this world where supers and villains are the norm. The back half of the season deals with the return of diabolical evildoer The Terror (perfectly depicted by psychopath-playing expert Jackie Earle Haley) and his plot to kill beloved superhero Superian (Brendan Hines). In those second six eps, the show sets up some decent stakes, pays off nearly every storyline it opens up, and still manages to leave a couple of juicy morsels for the next round.Scott Speiser in The Tick (2017)The Tick still seeks answers as to who (or what) he is, and Arthur continues to grapple with what it means to be a hero and whether he’s accepting that answer. Edlund and Josephson are clearly dedicated to world-building beyond their two main characters, and the show absolutely benefits from a three-dimensional secondary cast. Even characters like hard-core vigilante Overkill (Scott Speiser) and Arthur’s sister Dot (Valorie Curry) experience good growth throughout the season. In a world where superheroes rule, watching “The Tick” is a refreshing roast of all the ridiculous tropes and cliches we’re so used to seeing in just about every other genre show out there. Now that Amazon Video is available on Apple TV (and most other streaming platforms and devices), there’s no excuse for you to miss out. Each episode is only 25 minutes long, so binging all 12 shouldn’t take you more than six hours, but you’ll definitely know if you’re on board for “The Tick” or not after the first half dozen. Amazon already gave the green light to a second season, which should bow sometime in early 2019. The entire season 1 is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman in The Tick (2017)

 

REVIEW: THE TICK (2017) – SEASON 1 – PART 1

MAIN CAST

Peter Serafinowicz (Dpy)
Griffin Newman (Draft Day)
Valorie Curry (Blair Witch)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Yara Martinez (Jane The Virgin)

RECURRING NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christian Navarro (13 Reasons Why)
Whoopi Goldberg (The Muppets)
François Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Bryan Greenberg (Prime)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Scott Speiser (6 Ways To Die)
Patricia Kalember (Signs)
Townsend Coleman (The Grinch)
Michael Cerveris (Gotham)
Joshua Schubart (Seven Seconds)

This new Tick series (following the famous ’90s animated series and the ill-fated first go at live-action on FOX back in 2001) takes a bit of a subtle left turn into soft Rated-R territory, allowing things to feel a little more grounded and grittier while also permitting the occasional F-bomb to fly free. Yes, it’s weird to think that the mostly-jovial world of The Tick could exist alongside actual carnage and bloodshed, plus profanity, but it works really well. As does the show’s parody of a Punisher-style murder hero named Overkill (Scott Speiser). After striking oil with the perfect tone for a Tick live-action series, this show also cunningly crafted its sweet and salty spine by casting Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick and Griffin Newman as Arthur – and then allowing the two of them to explore the actual mental maladies involved with this particular hero dynamic.The first episode introduces us to a very different take on Arthur. A traumatized Arthur who’s almost incapable of functioning as an adult without medication and the supervision of his sister Dot (Valorie Curry). Arthur is on a hero’s journey, obsessed with revealing the truth about a thought-to-be-dead supervillain named The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), but he lacks the muscle and confidence to follow through. He’s all conspiracy theories and crime boards (and Reddit threads), but no real desire to bring about justice himself. From…wherever The Tick comes from. The second episode deftly toys with the idea of Tick possibly being some sort of mental manifestation of Arthur, like a Tyler Durden. Or even The Maxx, if you’d like to stick to comics and possible avatars of past trauma. Arthur has the intel and the personal vendetta while bullet-proof Tick has the ability to waltz in and lay waste to a villainous lair. Meanwhile, Tick isn’t quite sure of his own origins and keeps speechifying about doing good and answering the call of one’s true fate. It’s a pairing too serendipitous to ignore as both, right when they find each other, need the other.Serafinowicz’s Tick is pitch-perfect. Hallmarks, and expectations, set up by the animated series dictates that Tick be large, barrel chested, baritone, and brave. But important to the story too is the friendship that he and Arthur eventually cultivate. Arthur needs to be annoyed with everything at first, but you need Tick to be soft and supportive enough so that Arthur will eventually see him as a light in all the darkness. Tick, in his own right, needs to be rather unflappable in his pursuit of evil-doers, but he also can’t want to go after the villains without his trusted chum because Tick, aside from being his own particular style of doofy do-gooder, is meant to be therapeutic for poor Arthur. Despite taking place in the ream of super-powered heroes and villains, The Tick is a small series. The meager budget shows at times, but when VFX are used, they’re well-placed and important. The fact that the tone of the show is meant to ground everything and make the heightened feel a bit more real means that things tend to operate like they would in every day life. If you’re, say, a crime lord like Yara Martinez’s Ms. Lint or Michael Cerveris’ Ramses and you only have, maybe, a dozen paid thugs in your employ, you’d basically be without goon support if someone came and thrashed all of them. You don’t have an endless supply.This is a show where, as part of the world’s backstory, the aforementioned Terror actually succeeded in killing off America’s top hero team, the Flag Five. There are realistic consequences mixed in with the superhero silliness and that helps create a foundation with stakes. You understand why Dot is so afraid for Arthur when he embarks on his misadventures with Tick (complete with a impenetrable flying battle suit that imprints itself on Arthur – and yes, resembles a moth for reasons unknown). Their entire family had been ripped apart due to collateral damage from super-powered beings warring up above so you’re fully immersed the life or death aspects of the story. Nothing ever goes so dark that it all becomes Watchmen, but it does start to hit home like a more jagged version of The Incredibles. The Tick is a quick, delightful binge that perfectly captures the spirit of the 90s animated series while shading things a bit darker in order to present a more grounded world for a live-action setting.  Peter Serafinowicz’s Tick is also awesome as daft mysterious hero who appears to help a troubled man cross the finish line on a life’s journey to find justice.