The tiCK Season One, Part One
New arachnid on the block
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.