Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by Michael


The Return of The Tick?

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This week’s prize for ‘Astoundingly unlikely but hugely welcome news’ goes to the reports that Amazon Prime are resurrecting the live action superhero TV series The Tick for its online streaming service. A mere thirteen years after its criminally early cancellation (it lasted just one season) everyone’s favourite heroic arachnid might be returning to our screens.

Dop Dwee Dop Dop Dop Dwee Dow!

So who is The Tick and why should you care? Well The Tick and his accountant turned sidekick Arthur are the creations of Ben Edlund. Originally the character was merely a mascot for a newsletter but soon graduated into a comic of his own which is still running today and is a staple of Free Comic Book Day. In the comic itself, The Tick’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Who is this mysterious blue hero? Where does he come from? Is he mentally unstable? Is that even a costume? What is known is that The Tick has an insatiable desire to fight crime. In all three iterations of the character (comic, animated series, live action series) he ropes in the mild-mannered Arthur to form a dysfunctional dynamic duo.

The first time The Tick lit up our TV screens it was in the wonderful 90s cartoon series (sadly not currently slated for a revival). Townsend Coleman voiced The Tick, Arthur was played by former Monkee Mickey Dolenz of all people. It boasted wonderful wit and humour, a belting theme tune as well as a plethora of supporting heroes. The Tick was tasked with protecting the urban development known as The City. Unfortunately The City already had protectors aplenty, including such luminaries as Captain Lemming, BiPolar Man and The Human Bullet (catch phrase ‘Fire me, boy!’). Still, The Tick and Arthur earn the respect of their peers – After all, Arthur can fly as a result of his moth suit and The Tick is not only super strong he’s nigh invulnerable! Together they protect The City from threats such as Chairface Chippendale (the man with furniture for a head), the rampaging Proto-Clown and Sunflower revolutionary El Seed. The series is crammed with too many memorable lines and characters to list but standouts include Wonder Woman/American Maid hybrid American Maid (The City’s only competent hero) and her ex-love, pompous Batman parody Die Fledermaus. Special mention too to The Civic Minded Five who have the greatest superhero catchphrase in history –‘Let’s Make A Difference!’

The cartoon last three series but we weren’t left bereft for too long. In 2001 a live action TV series was commissioned by Fox. Man mountain and voice artist extraordinaire Patrick Warburton was the natural choice to play The Tick while David Burke was cast as Arthur. Strangely, most of the supporting cast in The Tick changes across formats. Accordingly American Maid was replaced with the similarly themed Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) and Die Fledermaus became the swarthy Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell). Carbonell, funnily enough, would later find fame as the Mayor of Gotham  in the Christopher Nolan films. After his take on the Dark Knight in The Tick it’s a wonder he could keep a straight face on set. Like the cartoon and the comic before it the TV series was weird and wonderful, a very affectionate parody of the superhero genre. Much of the fun comes from The Tick’s tangential at best relation to reality. He acts as if he is a child playing at superheroics, unable to grasp the subtleties and banalities of everyday life. The Irony is that he is actually a hugely effective (if not strictly competent) hero with genuine superpowers. The one huge problem with the live action series compared to its comic and animated counterparts is just one of budget – the series couldn’t afford to fill episodes with big fight scenes and this gives the impression that the heroes are mostly just braggarts and frauds, content to talk about fighting crime without actually doing it.

Still, the series, while never a ratings hit, was very well received by fans and was by most standards excellent entertainment. Ben Edlund has tweeted confirming reports that talks are underway to revive it; it also seems likely that should anything come to fruition Patrick Warburton will also return. It is early days yet but once again Evildoers should beware, for they (might) face The Tick!


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