Every Saturday morning, me and my best friend, who worked with me at the Wasatch Brew Pub in downtown Park City, Utah, would talk The Tick, quoting lines like acolytes of The Simpsons, Family Guy and Monty Python. It was our favorite animated series at the time–early ’90’s–and I told him about the comic that debuted in 1988. Immediately he was careening down the mountains to find a comic shop in Salt Lake City in his beat up pickup. Wow. He was a fan!
And how could he not be? The Tick is one of the most original–yet, strangely familiar–cult classics to start off in comics and morph into one of the most rebooted, revamped, rejuvenated, repackaged, show in the history of television! It went from the printed page (’88-’89), to an animated show on FOX’s Saturday Morning Line-up (’94-’97), to a half-hour, live-action series again on FOX (’01-’02), starring Patrick Warburton and second second string Sit-Com regulars of the 1990’s, to what it is today–an Amazon original series, premiering Aug. 25th.
Created by Ben Edlund as a comic store’s newsletters mascot in 1986, his fearless, bulletproof Tick would be raised to cult-classic stardom through his absolutely hilarious satires of both the superheroes his characters are inspired by and the social commentary delivered through them. To date, I confess I’m a die-hard fan of the comic, animated show and have a soft spot for the Warburton live-action incarnation. So when I saw Amazon was taking a stab at it, I was puzzled, unexcited and very skeptical of resurrecting the musclebound, blue idiot of do-gooder-ness! Regardless, I saw they had the first episode posted and I punched the button on my Roku remote….
After my viewing, I can safely report there is hope for fans of The Tick. The series takes liberty with certain character’s backgrounds–even adding new characters–but creator Eldund did this with each incarnation of The Tick whether it was drawn, animated or live-action. His gallery of satirical superheroes and villains changed with each series as well, no matter what the medium they were presented in, so this could either be an advantage or hindrance, depending on your point of view. As an original fan, the show may seem to stumble with you at first, as they have messed around with the Tick’s sidekick, Arthur’s, background. While he is still a bored accountant, Amazon’s series has added an additional reason as to why meekly Arthur wants to be a superhero which will either annoy you or peek your interest in giving Arthur some additional depth through psychological turmoil (I’m trying very hard not to present spoilers).
Amazon has given their live-action version of The Tick a solid budget, the likes of which FOX refused to with theirs, and the result is a very colorful, slick, exciting production that delivers action, drama and a dead-pan form of comedy incredibly anemic from what The Tick originally was. It’s import for the producers to remember what made The Tick such a cult classic was the style of humor comes from the comedic school of the absurd–surrealistic satire that goes beyond the situations the characters find themselves in. The original live-action show attempted to keep this spirit alive, but its budget created limitations in what they were capable of delivering in comedic visuals found in the animated series which they attempted to make up for in dialogue. Advances in CGI are quickly changing this shortcoming for Amazon and they have proven in episode one they are up for the task in the visuals department. But with that said, what quickly turned me off was–and you will see it too–it seemed the creators were going for a possible Big Bird & Snuffleupagus scenario where it began to feel like they were setting it up where Arthur was the only one who saw the Tick and he wasn’t going to be real.
Thank God they didn’t go down this path–the cliche Harvey/Drop-Dead Fred plot–because it would’ve been a disaster! In addition, it doesn’t help their cause the character of Arthur looks like a poor-man’s Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)–and don’t try to convince me he doesn’t. As the show progressed, it seemed it was re-enforcing my fears but then, thankfully, it committed a zig where I was expecting a zag, quickly recovering from my initial fears the series was going to be a failure. Defying what could have been the inevitable, The Tick redeemed itself in episode one’s final act, turning the corner on disaster which seems to befall almost all remakes these days.
I look forward to seeing how this series progresses even though it stumbled out of the starting gate for me. It quickly recovered by end of the first episode and because of this, I am not going to give up on it. In retrospect, The Tick belongs in the hall of fame of comic book parodies, taking its place alongside such comic book cult icons as Howard the Duck, Groo the Wanderer and Bomb Queen. It would be tragic if Amazon drops the ball with potential superhero comedic gold! In the words of the Tick: “Destiny has made my bed and I must not eat crackers while lying in that bed!” Listen to the hero, Amazon! Destiny is calling. So don’t eat crackers.