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‘The Tick’ returns with disappointing new adventures

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Peter Serafinowicz’s Tick protects his fellow citizens.
Photo: Amazon Video / Courtesy

Two and a half stars

The Tick Season 1 available August 25 on Amazon.

Ben Edlund’s goofy superhero creation The Tick has had a surprisingly long-lasting impact for a character created as a mascot for a store newsletter. The big blue doofus went on to star in his own comic books and entered mainstream pop culture via a 1994 animated series on Fox. Although the 2001 live-action version of The Tick didn’t even last a full season on Fox, it only added to the character’s cult following, which is still big enough to warrant a new revival on Amazon. Edlund, remarkably, has remained the primary creative force behind every incarnation of The Tick since 1986, and he’s back as creator and executive producer of the new show.

Maybe because Edlund has spent so long with the same character, or maybe because The Tick’s malapropisms and endearing naïveté are a bit out of place in the world of prestige TV, Amazon’s The Tick takes a darker, more serious approach to the character’s adventures, while retaining some of the silliness of a hulking, exuberant man-child in a bright blue costume. While the hero himself (played by Peter Serafinowicz, not quite as charming as previous star Patrick Warburton) has a commanding presence whenever he’s onscreen, the show’s real main character is The Tick’s mild-mannered reluctant sidekick Arthur (Griffin Newman), a nervous accountant who’s been reimagined here as a victim of PTSD (early episodes even hint that The Tick might be a product of Arthur’s imagination).

Arthur’s trauma ties into the series’ main villain, The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), but it’s at odds with the often lighthearted, joke-filled dialogue (although The Tick seems to have abandoned his longtime catch phrase, “Spoon!”). The serialized story doesn’t allow much room for the fun detours and amusing side characters of the previous Tick series, although Yara Martinez makes the most of her role as the static electricity-powered villain Miss Lint. Even the show’s look is toned down, in line with the grittier style of modern premium TV fare. Neither a hilarious parody nor an engrossing superhero story, this version of The Tick ends up in a dissatisfying middle ground.

Tags: Film, Television
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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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