The Tick Pilot Review
Amazon‘s The Tick (2016): Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot was probably the second best adaptation of the comic-book-series-of-the-same-name to date. Unlike the animated and comic book incarnations of the titular character (7′ tall, 400 pounds), The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) in this Amazon series is not an extraordinary physical specimen (he is covered in molded rubber like Michael Keaton‘s Batman). Like the animated incarnation of The Tick, Serafinowicz’s The Tick spoke in heroic bombast. The Tick was a near moron, with incredible abilities, led by a singular drive to do good. He was a walking, talking caricature yet wasn’t diminished by that fact in the slightest.
The Tick was unintentional hilarious throughout the entire episode, both in words and in actions: The Tick whacking criminals around as if they were weightless, laying in bed with Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman) as he slept, and pontificating on a rooftop to empty air were highlights of his hilarity during the episode.
The Tick’s antics aside, Arthur Everest’s present day and past storylines were the bedrock of the episode. Though the episode was entitled Pilot (or The Tick – whichever the case may be), the episode was the origin story of Arthur. This episode established what motivated Arthur, his mental condition, and how he saw the world. That narrative approach might have been disastrous but it was complex and interesting. The fact that Arthur’s origin story was intermingled with superhero and supervillains’ rise and fall from the past and present made it like the first season of Arrow.
That was the best way to approach a narrative where the past was just as important as the present.
Unlike Arrow where the viewer gradually learned how Oliver Queen acquired his vast skill set, the viewer of this The Tick episode learned how Arthur’s mind became obsessed with those imbued with super abilities. The villain that made Arthur famous chief among them. The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) was a villain that knew how to have fun (e.g. the ice cream moment) even in an important situation (like The Jew Hunter in Inglourious Basterds). The Terror also knew how to make an awkward situation even worse.
The tone of the episode was a mixture of comedy, action, and gore e.g. weaponized syphilis to the eyes. It all worked but there was the inherent problem of seriousness. If a character in a life or death situation doesn’t take the situation seriously, why should the viewer? Why should the viewer have an emotion reaction to such a situation when no (or almost no one) on-screen does? The Tick wanted to have it both ways (light-heartedness but have the viewer emotionally invested) with everything it threw at the viewer. It couldn’t. The show was littered with goofiness (“Go tell it on the mountain”) and comedy in-between the heart moments.
I smiled multiple times and laughed out loud once during the episode. When the episode reached its conclusion, I wanted to see what would happen next. That was all thanks to the writing of Ben Edlund and the acting of the on-screen talent.
The cliffhanger ending was an effective one. If the goal of this episode was to entice, to show what this series could be, mission accomplished.
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