I loved the Tick cartoon back in the day, so I wasn’t convinced a live-action version would particularly work, so I put off watching it for a while. Well, I finally put episode 1 on a week or so ago and enjoyed it, and the show kept getting better as it went along! The humour was pitched perfectly, lampooning the superhero genre during a time where it’s all over the place. Let’s take a closer look!
The Tick is a nigh-invulnerable superhero in a blue tick costume who arrives in The City to help combat crime and uncover the mysterious figure behind the city’s underworld. He befriends a nervous and mild-mannered young man named Arthur who becomes his sidekick. They come to realize that an apparently long-dead supervillain called “The Terror” may still be pulling the strings in the city’s underworld.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
This picture captures both characters perfectly…
Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman) – Arthur was traumatized as a child by The Terror, after having killed his heroes the Flag Five and killed his father right in front of his eyes. He’s convinced his tormentor is still alive and working underground, and just needs the ability to prove it…
The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) – The Tick is super-strong, seemingly invincible and extremely stupid. He also has no memory beyond meeting his sidekick Arthur, who is under the impression that he’s not his sidekick for some reason…
Dot Everest (Valorie Curry) – Dot works as a nurse, both in an actual hospital, and for the criminal underworld. She also helps look after her brother Arthur, who was terrorized by The Terror when he was young (which you’ve probably picked up on now).
Overkill (Scott Speiser) – Overkill used to be known as Straight Shooter, and a member of the Flag Five before his team was wiped out and his eyes and hands were taken. He now has cyborg eyes and hands, and a super-intelligent boat to help him gain his revenge against The Terror…
The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) – Speaking of The Terror, he is an evil mastermi… well, he’s evil anyway, and has caused a lot of trouble over the years. He was seemingly killed by Superion over a decade ago, leaving nothing behind but his teeth, but he still works underground on a method of revenge… plus working on how to play the drums, but that’s less evil…
Miss Lint (Yara Martinez) – Lint was always happy to be the underling of The Terror, but when her master vanished, she fell into a bad relationship and ended up working for an idiot who wants his gang to have an Egyptian vibe…
Dr. Karamazov (John Pirkis) – A Russian scientist who has been kidnapped by The Terror to create a method to kill Superion. His own experiments have left him reduced in size, but not in mind! (or something…)
Dangerboat (Alan Tudyk) – Dangerboat is Overkill’s A.I. controlled boat. It likes to create music and ponder his own existence, while helping out his often rude ally…
Superion (Brendon Hines) – Superion was the first hero who arrived on Earth a good while ago and began helping its people. He may not be the brightest, and he may be very conscious about keeping up his appearance, but he does have good intentions and does wish to save people.
Overkill protects Dot, before remembering he’s supposed to be stoic and badass.
Arthur is the central character here, with the Tick his absent-minded ally, whether he likes it or not, and he’s great in the role. He feels pathetic and nervous all the time, but as he gets used to his new super-suit, forced upon him by Tick, he gains a small bit of courage. His dad was killed in front of his eyes as a kid by the actions of The Terror, who then… well, terrorised him before leaving, and so it all came full circle as he battled Terror by the end of the season. He was never a brave bad-ass or anything, but by saving some lives he felt a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.
The Tick is the central figure of fun, being extremely stupid but pretty much invincible. His lines often fall into the 60s Batman level of doing good and calling Arthur “old chum”, which plays great against a more adult depiction of a world of super heroes, especially the Punisher send up “Overkill”, who nails his “gruff voiced, all negative and self-pity while gunning everyone down” character perfectly as well. The Tick isn’t all jokes though, he has no memory of before he met Arthur, and it’s often implied there is a connection there, that maybe he is somehow the product of Arthur’s imagination of how a perfect hero should be. It also lead to some funny scenes where Tick is immediately convinced his origin is something else, like he’s secretly a robot, which Tick went along for an episode or so before a frustrated Arthur brought him back round. The duo are a great double act, and carry the show (as you’d hope!)
Other characters like Arthur’s sister Dot, who soon goes from criminal underworld nurse to almost sidekick to Overkill, or Overkill’s boat A.I. “Dangerboat”, which ends up with a crush of Arthur, much to his distress… and confusion. Although I often found The Terror’s voice grating, his actions of overly-evilness and general depiction of his cheesily evil army was all good, and electric-powered villain Lint was also a fun character, especially her past with Overkill. The Superman parody, Superion, was fun and on-the-nose (in a good way), and the plan to poison him with his version of Kryptonite via enlarging a naked man to Godzilla proportions was suitably loony and lived up to Superion’s advice about dealing with The Terror: “Remember, the key to defeating his plans are that they make no sense”, or words to that effect.
For twelve 25-minute episodes, it covers a lot of development for its cast, especially the lead. It’s well paced too, not feeling too rushed but also not dwelling on the origin aspect. There were many scenes that made me smirk, and even a few that made me straight out laugh, but it was never played up like a straight sitcom, so hats off to the writers for that.
Great visuals, annoying voice.
My only real negative is The Terror’s gravely, strained old-man voice, which is so (intentionally) over-done that it begins to hurt my throat let alone his, and generally grate on my ears. Otherwise the show was short, sweet and the humour was pitched just right to my tastes.
Ha, yeah… it’s a parody alright.
The Tick’s first season perfectly introduces the main cast and keeps a perfect tone of humour and silly action. It parodies many aspects of comics with style but also doesn’t just straight up resort to nothing but parody and jokes, it has plot and character development as well, within the insanity. I’m genuinely looking forward to a second season in 2019.