Fans of The Tick fondly remember the animated series from the mid-90’s, and now a live-action version is among the Amazon pilots being considered for production.
Peter Serafinowicz stars as the titular Tick – nigh invulnerable and immensely strong, but delusionally idealistic and dumb as a post. Serafinowicz does an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the Tick and bringing him to life. The Tick’s mannerisms, speech patterns, and near-manic demeanor will be immediately recognizable to fans of the animated series. There was another attempt at a live-action Tick in 2001 with Patrick Warburton which lasted only 1 season. While a very funny guy, Warburton portrayed a much more low-key, almost sedated, Tick. Opinions vary among Tick fans, but for me, his portrayal just never quite worked. Serafinowicz, on the other hand, hit it out of the park. Every moment he was on screen was pure delight.
Which brings us to this pilot’s major shortcoming: Whenever the Tick was not on screen, the story was depressingly bleak. Seems the creators have bought into the tiresome idea, so prevalent these days, that if it’s a comic book story, it has to be dark. Arthur, mildly neurotic in the animated show, has major psychiatric issues stemming from a horrific childhood trauma that is vividly depicted for us on screen. The City’s former superhero team is blinded by weaponized syphilis and shot to death. The main villain is a truly malevolent and murderous fiend. We’re not talking Chairface Chippendale and El Seed here. It’s an odd and jarring juxtaposition of wildly contrasting styles, as if Adam West wandered onto the set while Christopher Nolan was filming The Dark Knight.
Poorly conceived changes in the supporting lineup made the 2001 live-action show almost painful to watch at times. Other than Arthur’s sister, Dot, we don’t get to see the supporting characters in this pilot, so there’s no way to know the writer’s plans for them. The City of the animated series was full of superheroes, and they were a comedically flawed but endearing bunch. I sincerely hope they stay true to the original animated characters if this pilot is picked up for series. I want American Maid, not Captain Liberty. I want Die Fledermaus, not Batmanuel.
Despite its darkness, this pilot felt like an enjoyable visit from an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. I hope it gets picked up!
Overall rating 8/10