After a year-long wait, the first half-season of The Tick was finally released on Amazon. We got 6 episodes, but that included the original pilot, so, really, we only got 5 new episodes. And as a Tick fan, I was bitterly disappointed.
The show did get a couple things right. Peter Serafinowicz nails the Tick. His speech patterns, voice, and mannerisms are spot on. If you’re a fan of the animated series from the 1990s, Serafinowicz is a perfect live action version of the titular hero. The second major protagonist of the series, Arthur (Griffin Newman), doesn’t come off nearly as well, but more about him in a moment. Arthur’s sister, Dot (Valorie Curry), mentioned but not often seen in the animated series, plays a much bigger role in this incarnation, and that is arguably the only other good thing about the show. Dot is an active and ongoing participant in the action and in Arthur’s life, with some interesting subplots of her own. Expanding her role was a major plus.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. The pilot suffered from a jarring disparity of tone, and, rather than dialing that back, the series doubled down. While the Tick himself is light-hearted, entertaining fun, everything else about the show is bleak and truly depressing. Arthur is not mildly neurotic in this one. He’s a basket case who would probably benefit from a prolonged stay in a psychiatric facility. The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) was originally a relatively harmless and amusing geriatric villain long past his prime. In this show, he’s a malevolent and murderous criminal mastermind. The show tries to simultaneously be both a campy spoof of the superhero genre and a dark, gritty, satirical drama. It doesn’t work very well. If creator Ben Edlund was going for something like Brazil, he didn’t manage to pull it off.
If you are expecting an episodic “crazy villain of the week” show, you’ll be disappointed again. It’s not an episodic show. It’s a single story arbitrarily broken into chunks. It’s more accurate to think of it as a single episode with commercial breaks. Wait, did I just say, “single episode?” My mistake. It’s not a single episode. It’s half an episode. Because some idiot thought it would be clever to release only half the story and make us wait until sometime in 2018 for the end. Apparently, the idea was to generate buzz and get people talking about the show and anticipating the next release with baited breath. You can get away with that if your show is already outrageously popular, but you can’t expect anyone to care enough after only around 2 painfully slow-paced hours. And here’s a tip for all you aspiring content creators: gratuitous cliffhangers are bad enough, but please don’t insult your audience by having the bad guy literally shout the word “cliffhanger” just before the final credits roll.
In the end, this slow-moving train wreck still manages to be somewhat entertaining. The Tick and Dot are both enjoyable to watch, and as bleak as the rest of it is, it’s got a “what the hell am I watching” vibe that will appeal to some. I will probably see the second half of the episode when Amazon gets around to releasing it in 2018. If you do want to see it, I would recommend waiting until the whole story is available.
Overall rating 4.5/10 (Deducted a point for only releasing half the show)