Sometimes you stumbled across a show and you think, “This is too smart, weird, wild and wonderful to last.” And you’d be right.
Behold, The Tick.
Sure, the Tick had been given the televised treatment once before in the form of a Saturday morning cartoon (an ironic turn of events considering that the Tick was created both as an underground, self-published comic and a parody of the superhero genre as whole), but that show allowed us to witness the dare doing and action scenes. That show made it clear that the Tick was a loveable goof, a childlike mental case who meant well and saw the world in black and white.
This show positions the Tick as a nuisance in a world where superheroes exist, are no big deal, and, in fact, have regulations and standards to uphold. Hell, they can even be assigned super-villains to square off against to sharpen their skills, improve their popularity, and, I assume, try to create a relationship like that comic readers see in Batman and Joker or Superman and Lex Luthor. In this way, the Tick seems almost like an anarchic figure who finds no feat (or evil, in his mind) too small or great for him not to try and defeat.
It’s a delicious and bizarre world to visit. And it’s a shame that it only lasted for nine episodes, because it cultivates such unique characters and fully expands them. Since this is live-action, most of the money has clearly got into sets and costumes. Action scenes and special effects are kept to a minimum, and that’s actually for the better given this group of ragtag and borderline incompetent heroes.
They’re a shallow bunch, prone to committing acts of heroism not because they find it to be their true calling, but because it’s a great way to achieve fame, wealth and status within The City’s upper society. And they’re frequently completely, totally, and utterly hilarious to watch. Like the guest spot from Ron Perlman and Patrick Breen as a super heroic duo who also have an abusive, slightly homoerotic relationship. It’s like the worst secret thoughts we have about Batman and Robin are being spewed out in front of us. It’s also blackly funny, and probably one of the best moments in the entire show.
Equal parts character-based black comedy, an examination of superhuman psyches in miniature, and a parody of superheroes and their genre conventions, tropes and motifs, The Tick was a show destined for a premature cancellation. If only TV was a more just medium. Over a decade of Two and a Half Men, but nine episodes of The Tick and twenty-two episodes of Pushing Daisies, sometimes it all just feels like a cruel joke.