The Tick is superhero parody, but it's as smart as it is funny...and it's very funny.

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The Tick - Amazon Prime Original Content
Review by Ernest Lilley
Amazon Prime Video  ISBN/ITEM#: B01J776HVW
Date: 29 August 2017

Links: Amazon Prime: The Tick / IMDB: The Tick / Wikipedia: The Tick / Show Official Info /

In a world where superheroes are real, if not quite normal, Arthur Everest is an accountant. Not just any accountanant, but one with a score to settle with "The Terror" a supervillan everyone else thinks is dead, PTSD and other mental health issues, and a friend he can't seem to get rid of: The Tick. He's an indestructible beacon of justice and superhero values, and he's determined to help Arthur rid the world of The Terror. He's just not that bright. Fortunately, Arthur's bright, he's just not a hero. Between them they're the best superhero odd couple to ever answer the call.

The Tick is superhero parody, but it's as smart as it is funny...and it's very funny.

Arthur, played nebbishly by Griffin Newman, isn't a superhero, just and accountant sharing a cubicle with an annoying libertarian conspiracy theorist (am I being redundant again?) but that doesn't mean he doesn't have an origin story. He's the tragic child in the photo that made the cover of Time when the supervillain "The Terror" killed America's greatest superhero team (after blinding them with "weaponized syphilis"} and by the way, Arthurs's dad who was putting change in a parking meter when the Flag Five's airship crashed on top of him.

So, maybe he's not a hero, and maybe he's traumatized and terrified, but Arthur has a mission: to prove that the Terror is still out there despite proof of his demise by the classical superhero Superian. Wait...isn't this supposed to be about the Tick?

The Tick, old chum, is a loveable slab of blue costumed superhero goodness that's attached himself to Arthur. Played on the nose by Peter Serafinowicz, he's a cross between the 1960's Batman, Dudly Doright, and Stephen Fry's Jeeves. He comes across as a bit dim, but it may be that he's just easily confused. Still, he's invulnerable, nearly unshakeable, and the standard bearer for selfless superheroes everywhere. If he only had a brain. Which, of course is where Arthur comes in.

Here's a bit from episode 3 "Secret Identity" where the Tick has been looking for an assasin named "Overkill"

Arthur: Have you found Overkill yet?
Tick: I Looked. I asked around. I got confused about who I was looking for again...and then I spent about a half hour trying to find my way out of a bus terminal.
Arthur: You didn't find him.
Tick: Alas, no...but I did figure out what the problem is. I said to myself, "Tick, you need Arthur's brain, and some kind of voice-box with which to express Arthur's thoughts and ideas." And then it hit me. Arthur has both those things! In a neat little package called...you.

It's easy to dismiss Tick as dim, but the truth (such as truth enters into it) seems more complex. Real or imagined, he's Arthur's alter ego and something he's really always wanted to be, which really when you think about it is the actual origin story of superheroes, 98 pound weaklings wishing we could be magically transformed into unstoppable forces for good. There's another aspect to the Tick/Arthur relationship the merits mention. While Tick is himself a hero, he has a dual role, acting as the hero's mentor and goad. He's Gandalf pushing Frodo out the door, Obi Won handing Luke the light saber, the Tick handing Arthur a stolen suit of high tech armor to see if it fits. 

The cast that surrounds our heroes is just as good. Dot (Valorie Curry), Arthur's sister, is a paramedic who patches up thugs on the side. Miss Lint (Yara Martinez), is an "angry electric witch lady" that shoots lightning out of her fingers and has a collection of glass eyes for her missing left eye, and The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), the villain Arthur's convinced is still alive makes frequent appearances courtesy of Arthurs' tortured flashbacks and dreams. All in all it's a great cast.

The Tick is based on the comic created by Ben Edlund, who leads the show's writing team. The Tick has gone through a number of iterations, from comic to animated series to live action (Fox TV) and now to streaming by Amazon Prime. I haven't watched any of them, and might not have watched this but for the ability to download episodes to a smartphone and watch them at the gym. It's pretty much all I can do to not binge the available episodes, but they're perfect for actually getting me to do some daily cardio (I'm sure the Tick would approve). Superheroes aren't real of course, unless you count the team of writers and actors that infused so much nuance into what could have been a simple parody. Warning, once the Tick latches on to you, there's no letting go.

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