Featuring: Peter “Shaun of the Dead” Serafinowicz , Griffin “Vinyl” Newman , Jackie Earle “Watchmen” Haley
Director: Wally “Transcendence” Pfister
Writer: Ben “The Tick (1994 & 2001)” Edlund
Did everyone hear about Ford’s announcement that they’ll have self-driving cars in mass production by 2021? Some people are excited for these mechanical miracles, others feel they’re bound to be the biggest techno turd since Google Glass. The only difference being that this time the asshats won’t be walking blindly into traffic, the traffic will be coming after them. Speaking of, am I the only one who hears a story about fleets of self-propelled vehicles being introducing to America’s highways and wonders, “Does no one remember MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE?!”. Then I remember that no, no one remembers Maximum Overdrive. And I weep.
Anyway, afraid I may have been showing the early signs of Stockholm Syndrome with my last review (Damn you, Asylum!), I'm cutting their brand of imitation cheese out of my digital diet for a while. In search of something new, I came across the news that Amazon's 8th Pilot Season was underway. For those who don't know what that is, Pilot Season is where Amazon releases a number of preview episodes (the eponymous pilots) for potential shows that they may turn into full serieses dependent upon varying factors, including (but not contingent to) viewer feedback. Such successes include “Transparent” and “The Man in the High Tower”, while a reboot of the Krofft brothers’ “Sigmund and the Sea Monster” and the proposed “Zombieland” show count among its dead. While this season’s standouts for many seem to be the JCVD starring “Jean-Claude Van Johnson” and the awkwardly titled Kevin Bacon showcase “I Love Dick” (yes, Mr. Bacon, we all know that you love dick), the only pilot I care to watch is the adaptation of Ben Edlund’s lovable comic book galoot, The Tick.
Sitting at an impressive 4.5 star rating as of this review, “The Tick” is the third attempt at bringing the hero to television. He’s now the Spider-Man of the small screen! Movie Spider-Man, not TV Spider-Man. That webhead’s had more cartoons than I can keep count of. The Tickster’s network origins started with 3 seasons of Fox’s Saturday morning animated series (featuring former Monkee Mickey Dolenz as the original voice of Arthur!) from ’94 – ’96 and petering out with the all-too-short lived 2001 live-action series (starring Patrick Warburton) that Fox canceled after only 8 of its 9 episodes were aired. A lot of people were saddened by the treatment of this “Seinfeld” for superheroes, but I never really got into it. I was more heartbroken by the demise of the cartoon, myself, and saw it as a high mark that a sitcom (especially one where the always masked face of the titular blue vigilante was no longer masked!) probably wouldn’t have lived up to anyway. BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie), with Edlund making this effort more true to its illustrated roots, let’s see if his pilot can sever the Grey Poupon.
Oh, and as a side note, this episode is directed by Wally Pfister – a guy whose last name simultaneously makes me think of boner pills (Pfizer) and severe rectal trauma (fister). Just thought I’d point that out.
Our tale begins in 1908, the “dawn of the age of superheroes”. An alien structure descended into our atmosphere and EXPLODED, setting fire to many an innocent flora and fauna while bringing forth yet another dollar store knock-off of the Son of Krypton. This spandex clad, cape wearing, just-another-Übermensch from the stars calls himself Superian (Brendan Hines), pronounced “Soup-ear-e-uhn” and not “Super Ian”… a nom de vigilantism that now has me distracted by thoughts of Scott Ian dressed red and blue long underwear with the familiar ‘S’ shield on his chest… which would probably piss him off, because he’d rather be Judge Dredd…
With such a pillar of justice and super punchery in their midst, you can't blame the people of the world for wanting to become superheroes (and super-villains) in their own right, and such is the axis upon which our story turns. One of these wanna be do-gooders is Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman), who has a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Superian's nemesis The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). Despite the Big S' assurance that the fiend is deader than Mel Gibson's career post “Jews, niggers, and Sugar Tits, oh my!”, Arthur's not convinced, and has been Hardy Boy-ing around in his spare time to uncover the truth. It's during one of these amateur gumshoe outings that Art meets a large, gibberish spewing weirdo in a blue costume who sees the familiar spirit of heroism in the young man's eyes. What brought on such a haunting? I'll save that for you to discover, because it's a story too good to spoil.
The sharer of said justice-centric possession is, as you probably presumed, The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). He’s bulletproof, bomb proof, surgical 2×4 proof, super strong (like, “crowded bus stop full of men” strong), plenty agile, and driven. Like a living bulldozer. So, like Killdozer. But a good Killdozer. A good Killdozer that spouts nonsensical lines about serving destiny and punching evil. Right in its immoral codpiece.
I was sad to see that the pilot only runs 30 minutes. Just as I was getting into it it was over, ended on a cliffhanger. Sure, that’s a good way to end a season finale, but a pilot? No. Now, if the rest of the show doesn’t make it to a full order, those of us whose eyes it caught are now fucked. Hard. Painfully so. Sans lube. If I had to compare it to a sexual encounter, I’d say it’s paramount to a one-night stand going down on you, then stopping before climax and saying “My jaw hurts. My turn now!”. Yeah, that’s a metaphor we can all endure.
With that said, based on its merits beyond the teasery and disappointing length (an issue I’ve yet to hear a complaint about), it’s got the girthy makings of a not bad show. I’m a big fan of Arthur’s new backstory. It’s dark, but in the comedy way more so than the gritty. He’s not the Punisher, so you can laugh at his tragedy without laying awake in bed later on wondering if you’re a horrible person deserving of a place in humanity or not. There are also hints at a possible split-personality disorder going on too, but that’s just my FCP (Fight Club Paranoia) acting up. Other elements discredit these so-called hints as just red herrings to mess with us. Although, it does bring up an interesting hypothesis that I’m going to keep in my utility belt for now, just in case “The Tick” goes full series. My favorite fantasy tales are the ones anchored in a reality similar to ours. Feels more relatable. As such, I enjoy Endlund’s take on what kind of mental instability it would take for every day schlubs to want to put on a costume and stop/commit atrocities.
Speaking of costumes (SEGWAY!) I’m also okay with the duo’s new crime fighting duds, which take a cue from modern comic book movie culture by detouring the spandex clad elephant in the room and embracing something that looks more like a combination of leather and/or body armor. Tick’s getup includes his mask (one of my sticking points with Patrick Warburton’s incarnation), but the shade of blue is… odd. Rather than go with a darker section of the color wheel, we get something more in line with the cartoon version. See the screenshots below.
Superian looks like you’d expect a Superman simulacrum to look like, while The Terror’s got a great new design that makes him look like a sinister cult leader, complete with oddly cut hood that brings to mind Magneto’s helmet more than a little. There are some computer effects that could use a little more polish, but for a low budget kinda thing, they do the job. The design of The Terror’s ship is also great, but for those hoping it would be the giant mechanical spider he originally piloted, know now that it’s not that, so adjust your expectations appropriately.
In closing, “The Tick” is more faithful to the tone of the original comics, much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the Movie skewed more in tune with its own original source material. That’s a good thing! Sadly, this may hurt its chances for a full series order in the long run, as a lot of the complaints I’ve seen about it so far have been that it’s not the goofy sitcom its predecessor program was previously. That’s a bad thing. I suggest clicking the link below, giving it a view (as my dad always says, “If it’s free, it’s for me!”), and rating it yourself. And if you can’t be true to yourself or spend half an hour watching it, give it a blind 5 stars so I can hopefully see what the fuck happens in the next episode!
Now, if you'll pardon my departure (or even if you won't), I have a viewing to go to. Not the movie type, but the corpse type. Don't worry, you didn't know him. Hell, I barely knew him. But it’s gonna be a lot of standing around in polyester mourning finery, hard boiling my man juevos, so I need to stop at Big Mike’s Food ‘n Fuel on the way for a few bottles of Crystal Pepsi to keep in my pockets and refrigerate my pudding pop.
Don’t get mad ’cause I’m beguilin’. I’m off the hook so don’t bother dialin’.
Once Nanook discovered how to harness the power of the atom, his place as leader of all the local tribes was all but guaranteed.
So, this world’s version of Superman looks like Matt Besser as a cape wearing date rapist? Gotcha.
If you’re going to just reach down your pants to check and see if you’ve started your period, two things – (1) Don’t do it at work. (2) Don’t wipe it on your uniform. Especially if it’s white. Seriously.
“By learning all of the new Magic: The Gathering expansion’s secrets before its release, I’ll be able to perfect by deck ahead of time and pwn newbs on release day!”
The Tick just discovered that The Cleveland Steamer, Rusty Trombone, and Blumpkin are not the names of fellow superheroes… Also, did you know that a Lemon Party isn’t a political association?
If Justin Timberlake and Johnny Galecki had a kid, and their kid fell into a Brundle Pod™ with Pat from It’s Pat, this guy would come out of the other end.
“No! I don’t wanna support the high school band by paying you $2 each for your stupid off-brand chocolate bars! Now fuck off before I throw you into my particle accelerator!”
See, stuff like this is why I stopped drinking tequila in public.
Looks like somebody got a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas!
There’s nothing quite like that first morning piss off of the side of your apartment building to start your day. I miss living in the city. I have to settle for pissing off of our balcony these days. It’s just not the same.
Anubis will return next time in
“Would You Offer Your Throat to the Vampire with the Camera?”
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