Amazon dumped the pilot to The Tick onto its streaming service a while ago, but we waited to review it until last week. A few days ago, Amazon put out the next 5 episodes of season 1, all at once. We’ll be doing one episode a week until we hit episode 6, and then patiently await like good little kids until they announce the second half of the season. It’s going to be a short ride, but a lot of fun. Let’s get going:
1. The Dark Knight Returns
This iteration of The Tick seems particularly interested in catching up with some of the aesthetics and tropes of modern superhero adaptations that it’s missed out on in the 15 years since it last graced our televisions. Appropriately, both the pilot episode and this one were directed by Wally Pfister, the great cinematographer that worked on the Nolan Batman movies. The result is a show that very much looks, in lighting, visual tone, and color, like something that could be adjacent to the Dark Knight movies. The costuming veers realistic, with the Tick himself now more resembling the chunky padded armor that Christian Bale wore in those movies. When Arthur’s goggles flip down over his eyes, it’s easy to see the similarity between this and Catwoman’s more realistic getup from The Dark Knight Rises. The tone of the show isn’t anything like the Nolan Bat films, but the visual cues and aesthetic similarities contribute to the lampoon. Just as the movie Airplane features actors mostly playing ridiculous phrases and situations straight in the face of a disaster movie plot, “The Tick” looks like any other modern superhero movie, even as it’s lampooning genre conventions.
2. Slight alterations
The Tick debuted on Amazon as part of one of their periodical “pilot season” events, wherein a variety of TV pilots are presented and their streaming popularity results in some of them being turned into full-length series. As a result, the pilot episode of The Tick was filmed before the rest of the season was given the green light. Edlund & Co. use this as an opportunity to tweak some things, including The Tick’s costume itself. What was once something of a grotesquely detailed exoskeletal bodysuit has become the aforementioned, more traditional padded armor. It’s not as sleek, but it’s also emphasizing the big, blue friendliness of the Tick vs. the creep-factor of the pilot costume.
3. So, where is Arthur’s mind?
Another possible result of the hiatus between pilot and season may have been a major change to the story, though this is only speculation. The pilot featured the Tick as something of an enigma – was he a figment of Arthur’s imagination? A metaphysical extension of Arthur’s hopes and fears? My guess in last week’s review was that it would turn out that The Tick was, in fact, real, but I didn’t expect that it would happen so soon. The fact that the reveal came halfway through the 2nd episode, anachronistically taking place after a Pyramid henchmen already gives away that fact has me thinking that this was at least going to be dragged out a little longer. It was, at the time of the pilot’s airing, probably the most controversially discussed aspects of the show. I think it works better this way. In fact, Tick gets a pretty good joke out of it: “Of course I’m real. Who’s not real?”
4. Lint’s (bank)roller
We spend almost as much time alone with the villains in this episode as we do with Arthur and the Tick. Miss Lint gets the big featured spot, with Edlund taking care to inject some sentimentality into her backstory. We see her working for Ramses, an Egyptian-themed baddie originally from the great state of Minnesota, feeling dejected and unappreciated. Ramses seems overly image conscious and fussy – nothing like her old boss, The Terror, who saw something in her that no one else did. This leads to a touching flashback between Lint and The Terror, where he takes her under his wing for the first time. I’m not sure I need sympathetic or cutesy backstories for every villain we come across, but it’s definitely welcome for Miss Lint, as it affords Yara Martinez to give a touching performance.Continued below
5. “Spoon!” watch
The Tick: “Unhand that precious balloon of hope!”
(Note: In the animated opening credits of the show, Arthur appears literally as a balloon before emerging from a villainous hand’s grasp as a moth. Kind of a neat little detail.)
The Tick: “Oh, Arthur. Grand Theft Poncho?”
The Tick: “Great. White. Taser. Tots!”