REVIEW: THE TICK (2001)

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MAIN CAST

Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
David Burke (Joan of Arcadia)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lloyd (Piranha)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Sam McMurray (Addams Family Values)
Maury Ginsberg (Vinyl)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Lori Alan Family Guy0
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)

tik-gerojEdlund first published the adventures of the Tick in a black-and-white comic book that gathered a cult following. Somehow, he got the attention of Fox’s animation studios, and his rather mature story—about an insanely strong, decidedly off-balanced escapee from a mental institution living in a world packed with obscure superheroes and bizarre villains (Chairface Chippendale, the Chainsaw Vigilante, the terrifying District Manager)—into a slightly less offensive, even funnier Saturday morning cartoon. The animated Tick lasted three seasons, and the adventures of Tick and his sidekick Arthur  and their battles against villains like the Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy, the Guy with Ears Like Little Raisins, and Joseph Stalin, were all that got me up on weekend mornings. 1457674447338But Fox ruined things by trying to turn the show from a cult hit into a mainstream entertainment and they soon cancelled it. Then, five years later, a brief bout of insanity overtook the Fox executives and they commissioned a live-action version of the large, blue, polysyllabic hero. Bringing Tick into the real world without screwing it up would require finesse, and luckily Fox allowed Edlund a ton of creative input. And despite some changes, including the substitution of the comic’s sidekicks with new characters Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) and Spanish lothario Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), the live-action version is surprisingly faithful to both the original incarnation and the cartoon series. A large measure of credit goes to star Patrick Warburton and David Burke, a pitch-perfect pair of Tick and moth. Warburton in particular captures his character’s blend of big-hearted hero and moron.1457674447338Of course, it isn’t perfect. It’s a low-budget series, and you can tell—the Tick’s costume (complete with motorized antenna)—looks great, but the rest of the set dressing looks rather cheap. And these first nine episodes are somewhat hit or miss, only occasionally scoring as consistently as the animated series. On the plus side, the show’s late-night time slot and intended adult audience meant the plots could be a bit more mature and subversive. Standouts include Arthur, Interrupted, in which Arthur comes out of the superhero closet to his family and is thrown into a “deprogramming facility” run by guest star Dave Foley; The Terror, in which the Tick faces the dastardly, 115-year-old villain, The Terror (Armin Shimerman); and the heroic duo’s acceptance into a smarmy, elitist superhero team in The Big Leaguestickep4Unfortunately, after bankrolling the series, Fox apparently decided they had made a series no one would watch, so they shelved it for a year. Then they slotted in on Thursdays against Survivor and Friends, pre-empted it so often it took three months to air eight episodes, showed everything out of order, and ended the show without airing the ninth and final episode (which was supposed to be episode three anyway). Even the clout of executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld couldn’t keep it on the air.tick+1If only more comic fans had committed to a show that actually did everything they’d asked… Fortunately, the American dvd gave fans the chance to relive this short lived show. thankfully the amazon revival has brought the Tick back in a form, but fans of the character should check out first attempt of a live action Tick.

 

 

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

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)

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)

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.