The Tick
airdate: 11-08-01

Oh, City, my City! I shall spread my buttery justice over all your nooks and crannies!

The stars glimmer brightly over a lonely rural bus depot. As we focus on the depot itself, a voice-over hints at the lawlessness of this place, and the need for a defender.

Luckily that defender stands proudly on the roof, as if Michelangelo had sculpted him of marble, if only marble were a bright blue. Never mind that it turns out the voice-over isn't a voice-over at all, but the constant interior monologue that The Tick constantly forgets to keep interior. This azure avenger is, indeed, that same Tick.

For fans of the comics and the earlier animated series, rest easy. He may look a little different in the maskless guise of Patrick Warburton, but at heart, this is the same lunk-headed hero. And somehow Warburton has managed to find a whole new kind of sincere cluelessness within himself, differing The Tick from earlier roles like Kronk (The Emperor's New Groove) and Puddy (Seinfeld). If anything, he echoes the best moments of Adam West, more as a kind, off-kilter beloved uncle - in skin-tight blue armor.

The regulars at the bus depot have no idea where The Tick came from, nor do they want him to stay. After defeating an evil coffee machine, The Tick gets easily tricked into heading for The City. As he leaves, he offers this advice to a teen-ager: "this hubcap wasn't really magic. The magic was in you all along."

With nothing but optimism, The Tick begins his new life in a thriving metropolis, just as a meek accountant named Arthur (David Burke) decides that it's time to become a moth-themed superhero. Up to this point the details remain familiar to Tick fans, but here copyright issues raise their ugly heads.

The producers of the animated series have retained the rights to most of the characters from the cartoon, and many of the plot details. Forced into a new continuity yet again, creator Ben Edlund keeps the spark of the old while giving us a new story.

Having quit his job, Arthur drinks himself stupid at the local hero hangout, The Lonely Panda. He steps outside, determined to make his first flight, but loses his courage. But like a demented super-strong beat poet, The Tick bounds above the skyline, declaiming his love for his new home ("I shall spread my buttery justice over all your nooks and crannies…"). Throw in an obsolete Soviet robot called The Red Menace, and you've got yourself an origin story.

Also involved are thinly-disguised versions of the cartoon's most frequent guest-stars. Nestor Carbonell gives a Latin-lover flavor to Die Fleidermaus, now known as Bat Manuel. This dark knight still retains the animated one's narcissism and reluctance to actually fight, but now actually scores a lot. As he winks and nudges The Tick, "I had to rescue those supermodels five times in one night, if you catch my meaning."

Playing foil to Bat Manuel is Liz Vassey as Captain Liberty, a much-improved version of American Maid. Literally carrying a torch for Bat Manuel, the two provide much erotic tension, only ruined by her insistence on actually fighting crime. She may be the best-equipped hero of the bunch, and that actually isn't a snarky comment.

Edlund and director Barry Sonnenfeld have both done a neat job of working around the fact that as a sitcom, they don't have much of a budget. At least in the first couple of episodes, it's quite funny that every impressive effect and menace is offstage. Captain Liberty drops down from "…the coolest copter (The Tick) has ever seen," except that we do not see it at all. And in the last minute of the first episode, a tremendous menace arises with one of the best super-villain names ever. But again, we can only imagine it.

As in other incarnations, The Tick is about the private lives of superheroes who never actually take off their costumes. (And really, after seeing Warburton's suit, you would have to wonder how he would take it off anyway.) Already it looks like The Lonely Panda will be the centerpiece of the show. But if Edlund and Sonnenfeld can keep up the clever dialogue, we may forget that, like Warburton's previous sitcom, this is actually a show about nothing.

I'm starting the call now, though, that fans will want a feature film version. It's that good.


Derek McCaw





Discuss this and more in the Fanboy forums.

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001 by FanboyPlanet. If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies Comics Wrestling OnTV Guest Forums About Us Mystery Sites

Click Here!