We thought we knew what heroism was, but we didn’t truly know until now. Now we see there was never any hero like him, and he has finally arrived on Amazon. The defender of innocents, the thorn in the side of all who would do evil…the man who calls himself…the Tick!
The newest show to arrive on Amazon is about a bright blue superhero that calls himself The Tick. At first glance, you may want to shrug off the idea, especially if you have no knowledge of the character’s humble past. Starting as a comic book store mascot in 1986, The Tick starred in his own comic series shortly after, going on to become a mainstay Saturday morning cartoon, and from there was adapted into a short-lived live action series starring Patrick Warburton. In it’s third incarnation, Amazon’s adaptation of The Tick premiered its first six episodes on August 25th, and long story short: it’d be best you didn’t shrug this one off.
Really, this show is perfect for the world of today. It’s like a missing puzzle piece to the superhero mosaic that our media has formed. You can’t turn a corner without seeing something to do with superheroes. Whether it’s the next blockbuster film, or Netflix’s newest series, or even a commercial on TV, they’re everywhere. What better way to capitalize on this setting than the bright, funny, vividly satirical superhero world that The Tick presents to us? Its humor is refreshing, and reminded me at points of Arrested Development, when background jokes would take on a life of their own as the show progressed.
The show is really a love note to the genre. The Tick creates a world that exists during a golden age of Superheroes, where these heroes have been alive and active for decades. Recently there has been a slump in actively, which leads our main character Arthur Everest – played by Griffin Newman (Vinyl) – into an investigation of a possible super villain conspiracy. It’s here that he meets our loveable blue hero, The Tick (played by Peter Serafinowicz).
Peter Serafinowicz’s (Guardians of the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead) performance is certainly one of the standout aspects of the show. He plays Tick’s blissful heroic antics to a tee, and his one-liners are (mostly) spot on. He is a blast to watch, and – as I mentioned in my preview of the show – plays a perfect amalgamation of superheroes as a whole. While the character doesn’t get much room for any sort of arc to form within the first six episodes, there are hints of him getting some interesting development later down the line.
While one of the main characters is a home run, the other sadly isn’t always a hit. I’m referring to Arthur Everest himself. Griffin Newman’s performance is great, but it doesn’t always gel well with the show’s balancing tones. An interesting aspect of The Tick is how it mixes its outlandish over-the-top humor with injections of serious tragedy and loss. Most of this falls on Arthur, as his backstory is a tragic one, which has led to psychological instability both in the past and present. This can lead to some emotional moments, and even funny ones when the tones collide perfectly. Other times, however, it can become aggravating as a viewer watching Arthur do nothing but yell, complain, and just generally be upset all of the time. Most of these first six episodes consist of Arthur freaking out, and pushing away everything that comes near him. Simply put, it can be exhausting to watch.
The supporting cast in the show is wonderful across the board. Valorie Curry (The Following, House Of Lies) is great as Arthur’s sister, Dot Everest. Dot has a surprising amount of development within the span of six episodes, even under the shadow of Tick and Arthur. She has her own plot running in the background, and it leads to some intriguing development for her character that I’m interested to see going forward. Jackie Earle Haley as The Terror – the big bad of this world – is also very fun to watch. However, don’t expect to see him much in this first drop of episodes, as he only pops up briefly and sporadically. The other heroes and villains you meet across the way are a blast as well. Ms. Lint, Overkill, Ramses, and Superian are all incredibly entertaining spoofs of common superhero character tropes.
As for the overarching story of the show, it takes awhile for the main plot to go anywhere. For the majority of this run the show’s objective seems to be more geared towards introducing the characters and the world than advancing the main story. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I’m now fully invested in these characters and the world they inhabit. However, it is hard to judge this chunk of episodes as a whole, seeing as it’s really only the first six episodes of a season (an odd and poorly communicated choice on Amazon’s part).
Now I can’t talk about a superhero property and not talk about the designs and art direction. For the most part, all of the costumes look fantastic. They are designed to perfectly poke fun at golden age outfits, and what we expect to see from our caped crusaders. The Tick’s outfit is extremely silly, but also strikingly bold and memorable. Superian’s outfit is clearly a riff of Superman’s classic duds. Even Overkill has an overly spot on assassin outfit. I do think there is one mishap however: The Moth Man suit. The suit that Arthur gains possession of by the end of the pilot episode. It sticks out like a sore thumb in a collection of well-designed comedic superhero outfits.
The Tick is overall a fantastic take on a classic character, and fits flawlessly in today’s day and age. Even with its flaws, there’s no way you won’t have a blast watching it – unless you just hate superheroes in general. If that’s the case, best keep your distance. Amazon Studios has another hit on their hands, and I look forward to seeing where the last half of the season takes us. Also, be sure to look for what I think is hands down one of my favorite product placements I’ve ever seen.
You can watch the first six episodes of Amazon’s The Tick Season 1 exclusively on Amazon Prime’s Video Service.