Amazon Pilot Review: The Tick (2016)
Amazon’s 2016 pilot season brings us my most anticipated and most dreaded new show; The Tick starring Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians of the Galaxy, Spy) as The Tick, Griffin Newman (The Treatment) as Arthur, Valorie Curry (The Following, Veronica Mars) as Dot and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Preacher) as The Terror. The pilot is directed by Wally Pfister with a script from Ben Edlund, the original creator of The Tick. Patrick Warburton– who played The Tick in the 2001 television series— acts as producer.
Immediately, you can tell that the production value is significantly improved over the original television series. Both the direction as well as the cinematography feel more like a hollywood movie than a television show, which seems to almost be expected from an Amazon series these days. The episode starts with a slowly zooming view of Planet Earth and a voiceover from Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick introducing us to “The Dawn of the Age of Superheroes” as a meteorite heads to earth before breaking open to reveal the first superhero, Superian. This transitions to a scene of Whoopi Goldberg interviewing Superian on a talk show with intercut scenes of Griffin Newman, as Arthur, watching on television before having him call Dot (Valorie Curry) on the phone. Dot asks Arthur if he’s doing anything “obsessive”, which he denies, as the shot pans out to reveal a wall covered in newspaper clippings connected together with push pins and yarn. This sort of subtle humor seems to set the tone for what to expect throughout the episode; A more realistic humor that elicits less of a laugh-out-loud and more of a chuckle-after-the-fact response.
Arthur then heads out to investigate a crime, which is where we get our first introduction to Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick. While his costume is more accurate to the original comic, or cartoon series than the 2001 iteration worn by Patrick Warburton, his delivery and tone of The Tick’s signature oddball one-liners however, leave something to be desired, namely, humor. That’s not to say that the script itself is lacking. The Tick, for instance, tells Arthur that “evil wears every possible mitten” as he tries to rush in and defeat the bad guys Arthur was previously watching, but the delivery of the line is dry and it leaves any fan of a previous iteration of The Tick feeling somewhat cheated, like you’re getting a bargain bin knockoff instead of the name brand you hoped for. This is followed almost immediately by another series of one-liners (Example: “we’ll come to that bridge after we burn it”) and the inevitable moment where we hear Peter Serafinowicz declare, ” I am The Tick” as we see Arthur’s eye developing it’s own tick in response. This is just another example of that subtle humor I mentioned before.
The actors themselves do a decent job in their individual roles and I can’t fault Peter Serafinowicz for not being Patrick Warburton. In this iteration, he fits the role as well as one could expect, which is to say, he delivers the subtle humor that the show uses without missing a step. Griffin Newman very accurately portrays the neurotic behavior we’ve come to expect from Arthur and Jackie Earle Haley does a strikingly evil job in playing The Terror– the defacto standard bad guy in The Tick universe.
Valorie Curry as Arthur’s sister Dot brings a level-headed balance to the show, to contrast the anxiety of Arthur, the childlike wonder of The Tick and the bad-for-the-sake-of-being-bad portrayal of The Terror.
As with most iterations of The Tick, the show tends to focus more on Arthur and his relationship to The Tick than on The Tick himself, which is done to prevent the viewer from being overwhelmed by the childlike wonder, thirst for justice and potential mental deficiencies that The Tick possesses. If you’re not prepared to handle the intentional stupidity delivered by The Tick, I can see how it could quickly get on your nerves, so splitting his focus with another character is probably for the best.
The comedic aspects of the show are really going to need to be stepped up to draw in those on-the-fence fans, but for the first-timer to the world of The Tick, the show should be an enjoyable series. All-in-all, Amazon’s The Tick has potential, but anyone who can’t get past the comparison to the 2001 Patrick Warburton version is going to have a hard time enjoying it as-is.
For anyone with an Amazon Prime account, you can check out the pilot episode and vote on whether or not Amazon should pick it up as a series, free of charge on the Prime Instant Video service and if you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can sign up for a 30-day Free Trial of Amazon Prime and start watching now.