Amazon’s The Tick is a fascinating watch even if it doesn’t always work. The Tick, which has been around in one form or another since the 90s, has some moments of pure genius but the entire show feels tonally off. That may be due to the fact that instead of putting the characters in a comic book hyper-reality the show’s creators (which includes the creator of the original Tick comic book) have decided to have all the action take place in the real world.
The result is that the craziness of the world, where super powered beings have become common place, gets toned down quite a bit. Say what you will for the early 2000s incarnation (starring Patrick Warburton in the lead role) but at least it embraced the cheese that went along with the story. All of that has been more or less muted in favor of a much more epic story that seems to miss some of the major punch lines of what makes the show and comic so great.
For instance, one of the main antagonists is called Ms. Lint because she attracts lint at a supernatural rate. That’s it. That’s her big punch line. The Tick roster has such an impressive roster of villains to choose from it seems rather anti-climatic to choose a woman whose main power revolves around lint. I mean Hand Grenade Man or Friendly Fire would have worked way better given the circumstances. Still, at least she’s given an arc in the eight episode season that runs far too short for its own good.
By chopping the first season in half as two, eight episode arcs much the action gets cut off. In some shows, like Agents of SHIELD, this method works well. But because the audience doesn’t really know any of the characters yet and this world is so brand new nothing really feel accomplished by the end of the season. So much of the show is spent on exposition that there’s really only three episodes of story in the arc while much of the action takes place over the course of 72 hours. The whole thing feels truncated, as if it is just revving up but stops by the time it really gets moving.
That being said, the cast is wonderful. Peter Serafinowicz completely nails the tone of the The Tick in some ways better than Warburton did in its last live action incarnation. He manages to play the bumbling hero as both totally clueless and amazingly insightful. Plus seeing The Tick and Arthur actually do heroic things rather than sit around a coffee shop talking about them really elevates all the material.
The standout is, naturally, Jackie Earle Haley as The Terror. Though he’s only in about half the episodes his comedic delivery carries the show past its pacing problems. Haley is a masterful actor to begin with so letting him chew the scenery was a genius move.
Unfortunately it is unclear when The Tick will return. Let’s hope it is soon so the show’s many unanswered questions get addressed.