In Amazon’s latest original endeavor, The Tick, it is not the titular blue behemoth sucking the life out of this show. Though the half-season premiere houses a commendable set of performances from all the cast, the overly pitiful characters bog down an otherwise wistful superhero romp and dilute its overall comedic impact.
The City is a crime-infested town without any noble superheroes to patrol its streets. Arthur (Griffin Newman), a downtrodden and socially awkward citizen, is certain much of the crime stems from The Terror, a supervillain who purportedly died years ago. Without any way to prove his theory, Arthur remains reclusive and alone until he encounters a new superhero in town, The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). The affable superhero quickly ropes Arthur into a string of dangerous situations as the duo seeks to uncover the truth behind the criminal underworld.
The Tick does a credible job at lampooning the seriousness of many superhero shows and media. The public in the show seems unphased, and in some instances, completely uninterested in the dealings of superheroes and villains, as if it is just another event in the news. Elsewhere in the show, villains are characterized as simple, engaging in acts of mischief and crime for the fun of it, rather than some overstated political or moral goal. As one would expect, especially in a comedy, this keeps the show light and fun.
Without question, Serafinowicz portrayal of The Tick is fantastic. His interpretation of a character that amounts to little more than an indestructible puppy dog is consistent in delivery and tone. For The Tick, this is perfect. His positivity combined with his charisma gives the character equal parts naivety and admirability. This notion makes viewers sit in anticipation for his next scene. The Tick amuses by relishing in relatively mundane situations in one moment and, without missing a beat, dispatching henchmen in the next, complete with the same amount of pep in his step and infectious grin.
Despite its positives and the appeal of its titular character, The Tick falls sickeningly flat in some areas. These areas: Arthur. This stems more from the characterization of Arthur rather than Newman’s performance. Newman makes Arthur a well-executed miserable creature, but it does not work in the favor of the show.
Though Arthur’s pessimism is supposed to serve as a sort of antithesis to the unequivocal positivity of The Tick, his constant rejection of advice and truly pathetic attitude really sours some of the comedy. Certainly, Arthur is meant to be pathetic. How can one not be when standing next to a massive blue superhero? But rather than quickly overcome his shortcomings, the show chooses to exacerbate them and drag them out in the first six episodes. To make matters worse, Arthur is the proper protagonist as the show presents it. The result is less time with The Tick and more time checking the time. This is the biggest shame.
Another character, Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez), suffers from much the same fate as Arthur, only on the other side of the superhero aisle. She is a pitiable villain, rather than an imposing one. The comedy derived from her character often is due to those around her rather than her innate character. When secondary characters are the initiators of more laughs, one may begin to wonder why we have the main character at all. In this way, there is far too much foil going on in The Tick and not enough proper fun.
Tonally, this amounts to some confusions for viewers as the world is bleak in many instances, only to be recharacterized by The Tick in typical fashion. Though this can work if correctly balanced, it seems the show favors the despair rather than cheer.
As we wait for the remaining episodes to air in 2018, one can hope that The Tick can prioritize its focus to emphasize its comedic impact. A superhero show should follow, for the most part, its titular character. If not, this will mark yet another small blood let on the for the ever expanding Amazon empire.
Featured Image By Amazon Studios