The tiCK Sea­son One, Part One

New arach­nid on the block

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 2017 | sVOd

Showrun­ners Ben ed­lund, david Fury Cast Peter ser­afi­now­icz, Griffin New­man, Valo­rie Curry, Jackie earle Ha­ley

Un­like cock­roaches, ticks (though they’re not ac­tu­ally in­sects, they’re arach­nids – don’t write let­ters) tra­di­tion­ally don’t sur­vive all that well. And like the crea­ture from which this show takes its name, The Tick has also had some is­sues stay­ing around.

First cre­ated by Ben Ed­lund in 1986 as the mas­cot for a comic store news­let­ter, the clue­less char­ac­ter has since spawned a comic book run, an an­i­mated se­ries and, in 2001, the first live-ac­tion at­tempt. Now it’s back with a new man in the suit (Peter Ser­afi­now­icz) and a slightly dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude. Part of that can be at­trib­uted to the new se­ries’ home at Amazon, where the writ­ers can push the bound­aries in terms of lan­guage and, in rarer cases, vi­o­lence. Partly, it’s Ed­lund and his cre­ative team try­ing some new ideas. It doesn’t all work.

This in­car­na­tion shakes up the con­cept by hav­ing Ser­afi­now­icz’s Tick suf­fer­ing from mem­ory loss – he doesn’t quite know why he does the heroic stuff, he just does. Griffin New­man’s Arthur, mean­while, is con­vinced that an old vil­lain known as The Ter­ror (Jackie Earle Ha­ley) has re­turned, while ev­ery­one around him thinks he’s crazy – and he’s not so sure him­self. There are fam­ily back­sto­ries, weird char­ac­ters and ban­ter aplenty, while the look of the Tick re­mains en­joy­ably quirky.

Ser­afi­now­icz has big feel­ers to fill, with Pa­trick War­bur­ton from the pre­vi­ous show pro­vid­ing many peo­ple’s iconic ver­sion of the hero. He finds some solid man­ner­isms and gives his take an en­joy­ably earnest mien, though he’s still per­form­ing in the shadow of what has gone be­fore, and at cer­tain mo­ments he’s more like some­one cos­play­ing the char­ac­ter than em­body­ing it. New­man is ap­peal­ingly gawky as Arthur, and the world is pop­u­lated by en­ter­tain­ing vil­lains such as Yara Martinez’s Ms Lint (she has elec­tric­ity pow­ers that come with a dust-at­tract­ing side-ef­fect).

The prob­lem lies in the tone. Aim­ing for a more “grounded” world, the kind of wack­i­ness that you ex­pect from the char­ac­ters is of­ten set aside, and doesn’t quite seem to fit when it does crop up. Sure, it’s good that there are con­se­quences here, and the se­ries does find the slightly sur­real win­ning for­mula from time to time, but there’s less of a sense of joy this time around, and a need to se­ri­alise the episodes means it’s all linked to­gether, so it’s harder to just en­joy a sin­gle story. Plus, with the first sea­son split into two halves, there is the creep­ing no­tion that this ini­tial run of six is just the in­tro­duc­tion to the main plot, which makes it less sat­is­fy­ing.

This new ver­sion of the ca­per­ing cru­sader is cer­tainly en­ter­tain­ing, but it never quite ticks all the right boxes. James White

Ser­afi­now­icz says that when he got the part and started work­ing on it, he based the voice partly on Roger Ram­jet car­toons.

The kind of wack­i­ness you’d ex­pect is set aside

Shout­ing “Spoon!” wouldn’t cut it this time.

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