2017-08-29 - Streaming Content

Streaming Content

Stalk The Comic:

August 29, 2017 - News Post

I so wanted to enjoy The Tick.

The first half of season one has been available on Amazon since Friday. The reviews are mostly great, my friends all seem to love it, and the internet wants to make out with it.

Sadly, I’ve watched it all, and I am not a fan.

I’ve been following the Tick since the 90s. I’ve read the comics, I watched the cartoon, and I watched the 2001 live action show. Each one was different, and each one was brilliant and hilarious in its own unique way.

The new show has all the right people involved: Ben Edlund, the Tick’s creator, worked to build this latest, grittiest incarnation. Peter Serafinowicz, one of my favorite comedian/actors, stars. Even Patrick Warburton is producing. I’ve waited years for a new series, everything looked great on paper, but this show is nowhere close to what I was hoping for.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

The main problem I have with The Tick is its tone. It’s as though I’m watching two completely separate shows. One show is dark and depressing, with profound physical and psychological consequences to horrific violence. The other is a wacky, zany slapstick where people behave like cartoon characters.

This show has it all:

A woman covered in dust like something out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon? Check.

That same woman losing a glass eye and showing off her empty socket for several uncomfortable scenes? Check Plus!!!

The shift can be jarring and unpleasant. Arthur, the fun-loving sidekick/partner of the Tick has many silly scenes where he tries to learn how to fly. You know, the kind of thing a four-year-old would laugh at. He also suffers from lasting, disturbing post-traumatic stress that required years of therapy and medication. Fun fun!!! What a hilarious satire!!!

I love a good dramedy, and I don’t shy away from dark, violent shows. Without the right balance, however, it’s easy to fail at both.

It feels as though months were spent writing a gritty superhero crime drama, only to have a script doctor punch up the humor in the dialogue in a single afternoon. Characters are inconsistent, and the genuinely funny moments are shattered by the real-life consequences of heroes and villains fighting around civilians.

Having villains and superheroes behave erratically in the middle of a real world is perfectly fine. Having The Tick be a beacon of insanity in the middle of real people is fine, too. But flipping characters back and forth between cartoonlike and real-life behavior is exhausting. I can’t invest my emotions in characters that don’t behave like real humans. Am I supposed to laugh or feel sad? Both? What a fun comedy!

The thing is, I'm not sure if this show is even necessary. Does the world need a parody of dark, gritty movies? I know it doesn’t need one for superheroes. Marvel movies already do a decent job of parodying themselves. Whenever a situation gets too ridiculous, they wink at the audience and point out the stupidity. If I want a laugh-a-minute comedy in the midst of a super-powered adventure, I can always watch Guardians of the Galaxy. If I want to feel sad or depressed, I guess I’ll watch the Tick.

The Tick has always worked in a world where superheroes exist as celebrities, caught halfway between the icons of the comics and everyday jerks you encounter on the street. The world of the new show is unclear and inconsistent. I understand the need to reinvent The Tick, but I think season one is still struggling to find the proper balance between realism and insanity.

For all my complaints, I want to be clear that the show isn’t all bad. Although I didn’t like it, the performances are decent and I love the cast. The Terror is an outstanding villain and I’m happy they’re at least trying something different. I have decades of love for this character. Ben Edlund and the people behind the show have earned my trust enough to keep going. I’ll watch the rest of season one as soon as it comes out, but I’m not moving on to season two without some drastic changes.

Watch it if you want. If you need me, I’ll be at home, re-watching the cartoon and the 2001 TV show. I’m desperately trying to remember what it was like to enjoy The Tick.

I think it used to be fun.

-Jeff