By: Henry Hanks, Contributor @hankstv / firstname.lastname@example.org
**Minor spoilers contained**
It’s been over 20 years since Saturday morning TV viewers first heard the cry “Spoooon!”
Since then, “The Tick” has been a much beloved staple of television, having been reimagined in 2001 as a shortlived live action series with Patrick Warburton, and now a new live action version for Amazon.
Every adaptation has kept the basics of the satirical comic book (which just celebrated its 30th anniversary) intact: a normal, introverted guy named Arthur is convinced by a jolly, hulking man in blue to join his crusade against all things evil in The City. This hero, The Tick, is “nigh invulnerable,” completely selfless, committed to justice and prone to long soliloquies about destiny and the struggle of good versus evil.
The new version focuses more than usual on Arthur and his backstory: he witnessed his father killed by supervillain the Terror, and believes the dastardly fiend isn’t dead like the world thinks. A chance meeting with the Tick makes him a very reluctant sidekick, at one time convinced that the hero is something he hallucinated.
It’s definitely the darkest take on the character we’ve seen so far, and the pilot was the closest you might get to a Christopher Nolan “Tick.”
That may sound like a bad idea on paper, and the pilot’s tone didn’t quite work, but the second episode has made some welcome adjustments to lightening things somewhat (the last thing we need is yet another grim take on comic books, especially when it’s the Tick, for crying out loud), and bringing it closer in line to the comics and cartoon series.
Peter Serafinowicz (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Spy”) takes on the role of the blue-suited insect with gusto – the only correct way to do so – and is an inspired casting choice. Griffin Newman (“Vinyl”) brings enough realism to Arthur for this version, and his world has been expanded to include sister Dot (Valorie Curry, “The Following”), who worries about her brother’s mental health.
The biggest casting coup, however is Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”) as the Terror (thus far, only seen in flashbacks, two episodes in). Haley can be counted on to bring the menace to any villain.
Brendan Hines as the first superhero, Superian, pops up from time to time, at one point interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg.
This “Tick” has gravitas to add to the humor, while still brilliantly satirizing superheroes. It remains to be seen if other villains and heroes from “Tick” will show up, but long-time fans will welcome back the big blue lug with open arms.