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TV Review: The Tick

SYNOPSIS:   In a world where superheroes and villains are very real, unassuming office temp Arthur becomes obsessed with a sinister conspiracy he believes has taken over his City. Everyone thinks he's crazy, except his mysterious new ally, The Tick, a bizarre blue superhero who might just be a figment of Arthur's imagination....

REVIEW: Every year at San Diego Comic Con, there are always marketing pushes for the latest network television series. Often, the genre doesn't quite match the demographic of those in attendance, but if there was one show designed for those inhabiting the city this week, it is The Tick. Inspired but the cult classic comic book, this new version of The Tick shares less in common with the equally beloved animated and prior live action series which starred Patrick Warburton as the titular superhero. This new take on the story has a much darker and somewhat grittier take on the material. In fact, watching the pilot episode (available on Amazon Prime now) feels a lot like what you would get if you tried to set The Tick within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the end, The Tick doesn't quite work the way it should but it definitely lays the ground for what could turn into a cool series.

Taking over the blue antennas from Warburton is Peter Serafinowicz. Best known to genre fans from his appearances in SHAUN OF THE DEAD and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (he was also the voice of Darth Maul in THE PHANTOM MENACE), Serafinowicz plays The Tick less as a buffoon and more as someone who has absolutely no connection to reality. Where The Tick was the main character in the earlier versions of the show, the focus here is squarely on his future sidekick, Arthur. Played by Griffin Newman, Arthur is a broken character who has dealt with mental health issues since the death of his father at the hands of the supervillain known as The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). Arthur has been helped by his sister, Dot, who has helped him return to a level of sanity that does not feature superheroes or villains. But, when Arthur stumbles upon the henchmen of The Terror, he crosses paths with The Tick.

Through the entire pilot episode, you never quite get the feeling that The Tick is real. He could be a figment of Arthur's imagination in a spin on FIGHT CLUB brought on by trauma. Or, it could just be that The Tick is a new hero in this universe where costumed characters are the norm. For a lot of the episode, The Tick felt reminiscent of NBC's recently cancelled DC sitcom, Powerless. Both feature almost cartoonish superheroes destroying a more realistic city. But, unlike Powerless, The Tick has the benefit of a more intriguing premise. While The Tick himself is cool, he is not quite up to part with the animated or Warburton versions. Serafinoiwicz gives it his all but I just wasn't bought into this Tick as being better than his predecessors. On the other hand, Jackie Earle Haley is downright disturbing as The Terror. His make-up is the stuff of nightmares but Haley also brings some swagger and a dark humor to his portrayal that made me think he deserve a shot at playing a DC or Marvel bad guy. He did a great job in WATCHMEN and does an awesome job here. Maybe someone should make him Brainiac or Modok or something. Get Kevin Feige on the phone!

The pilot was directed by Wally Pfister. Yes, you read that right. Christopher Nolan's cinematographer on THE DARK KNIGHT helmed The Tick. Pfister presumably has directed the entire first season which may be some sort of penance for TRANSCENDENCE. Either way, The Tick looks simultaneously low budget and cinematic. The scale here is small and feels like a television series rather than a movie, but Pfister does get some nice shots in during the action sequences that does set this show apart from most of the other superhero shows on today. Those looking forward to seeing Bat Manuel/Der Fledermaus or American Maid will be disappointed as this episode squarely focuses on Arthur and The Tick. I kept hoping to hear "spoon!" shouted somewhere in this thirty minute intro to the show, but alas it was not included.

It may be too early to declare The Tick as worthy of a full season's worth of viewing, but I was interested enough in this pilot to check out the next few entries in the story. Be warned, though, that this version of The Tick is not something you are going to sit down and chuckle at like the FOX series, animated or live action. Still, The Tick is a character that is unlike any other comic book property out there and in an era where superheroes are the bread and butter of Hollywood, Amazon may just have the chance to be the differentiator on the market. With the marketing push Amazon is setting forth in San Diego this week, I would not be surprised if the future episodes of The Tick's first season are a bit lighter than the pilot and focus more on what long term fans are expecting.

The full first season of THE TICK debuts on Amazon Prime starting August 25th. The pilot episode is available now.

Source: JoBlo.com

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