The pilot episode of the new live action take on The Tick went up on Amazon Prime’s Amazon Video August 19th (ON my birthday. Happy birthday to me). But here’s the thing about Amazon Prime pilots: that’s all they made. I’ve never had Amazon Prime before (I started my free month specifically to see this). Unlike most streaming services, Amazon doesn’t drop a season at a time. They want to know that their pilots will have an audience before commissioning an entire season. And they literally decide that by people voting.
I know very little about the types of shows Amazon makes and haven’t seen much of their content (I’m gonna remedy that over the course of my free month). What happens if The Tick gets picked up? Would I start paying for Amazon Prime? It’s very likely. So let’s talk about The Tick.
There have been various incarnations of the Ben Edlund-created superhero and his sidekick, Arthur. It was a comic book, then an animated series, then a short-lived live action series, then the pilot on Amazon Video. This ain’t new territory. And I’d like to think that someone as clever as Edlund has been figuring out how to tell the story he wants to tell in a way that people want to hear/watch/consume. What’s generally great about the Tick, and why I think now is the time for it, is it’s a spoof on superheroes, while also genuinely being about legit superheroes. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy should be enough the prove that this is a viable time for this concept.
I mean Edlund’s enought to get me to at least try a show (I seriously adore him. And have a picture of un in which he dressed as a tiger to prove it), but there’s also producing credits to Patrick Warburton (the previous live action Tick) and Jenny Klein (who recently left Supernatural to write for the upcoming season of Jessica Jones).
The first thing I noticed when I hit play and the ad had run (oh, yeah, apparently there are ads on Amazon Prime) was that the show was rated TV-14 (language and violence). The previously animated kids series has apparently grown-up. To be honest, this seems like a harsh rating (this rating was given to Breaking Bad, Supernatural, The X-Files, and Stranger Things, to name a few. But also New Girl, so *shrug*).
Maybe I’m immune after years of blood splatting the inside of my TV screen, but I didn’t find it violent. And the violence was often comedic. There were a few moments of proper evil “Imma hurt you, and there’s nothing funny or cute about it” moments, but they weren’t graphic. Like at all. I caught the first swear word because it was a subtitle and I had to actually read it, but I didn’t notice any swearing beyond that.
That being said, if you consider the fact that the fans that were kids when it originally came out are adults now, it actually makes more sense for the reboot to be more…adult. It is darker, but not in a gritty way.
The story focuses on the introduction of Arthur. This is how TV shows work. You choose the character more relatable to the audience and build the story around him. The Tick? He’s super (see what I did there?). But most of us don’t have super strength and laugh it off when the warehouse we’re in blows up. So I THINK the format is gonna be about the Tick from Arthur’s point of view, Gatsby style (I can’t believe I’ve now brought up Breaking Bad and The Great Gatsby in the same article. Super hate that show and book. Yes, yes, I hear you boo-ing). Anyway, Arthur’s played by Griffin Newman, who I know next to nothing about. But from what I saw I like him. He had an unfortunate childhood, which rooted what turns out to be some perfectly founded paranoia. Cool.
So let’s talk about the character of the Tick. I had forgotten, not doing any of my normal rewatching/reading before viewing the pilot, how goddamn cute the Tick is as a character. He’s a big dumb puppy, that doesn’t know his own strength. Oh, and he’s played by Peter Serafinowicz, who I love, with an American dialect, which is the cutest (it’s actually pretty good for the most part, but he just can’t quite seem to say “superhero,” which only ups the precious factor). He’s upbeat about EVERYTHING. This sort of makes him the anti-Arthur. He also decides that Arthur should most def be his sidekick.
There were quite a few other characters. The baddies were all sort of broad baddies. I think that the main ones could be built into something more formidable if they had a season in which to do it. Arthur’s sister, Dot, had some good moments, but again it would be nice to see them build her out over the course of a season (I like brother/sister relationships, I was happy to see one here). And then there was Superian (played by Brendan Hines, just so I could point and go, “it’s the Lie to Me guy! Well, not the Lie to Me guy, that’s Tim Roth, but that other one!”). He’s typical smarmy, aren’t-I-great-cause-I’m-a-superhero guy in this (which automatically makes him suspect to me). Whoopi Goldberg was Whoopi Goldberg (though of course a heightened version). Oh! A character that really stood out to me. I don’t know if they plan on bringing her back, but I thought Dr. Creek was hilarious. More of her please.
Notably absent were all of the Tick’s superhero allies from all previous incarnations. But you don’t want to over-stuff the first episode. We can bring them in later. And I really hope they do. There are some great characters.
Side note: great music.
Really it was a lot of building up, so by the time I was really ready for the show to get going, the episode was over, and it’s livelihood hangs in the balance. So…that’s kind of a bummer.But I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And I have to say, the scene when Arthur puts on the suit (or “bunny suit” as a thug refers to it), I was absolutely low-key cheering.
I need more. Do me a favor and give it some positive feedback. For me. But probably for you too.
(And to everyone complaining that it needed more “Spoon!”, if we get them to make the rest of the season, you will almost surely get “Spoon!” aplenty.)