Suspension of Disbelief: The Tick
I know that The Hunger Games opened this weekend. I could have followed along with everyone else and reviewed that much anticipated film. But I'm an outside-the-box thinker. Plus, I was too busy to go to the movies this weekend. So! I'm going in a completely different direction. Today I am reviewing the 2001 cult hit The Tick.
I am the wild blue yonder. The front line in a never-ending battle between good and not-so-good. Together with my stalwart sidekick, Arthur, and the magnanimous help of some other folks I know, we form the yin to villany's malevolent yang. Destiny has chosen us. Wicked men, you face The Tick.
This live-action comedy follows the eponymous Tick (Warbuton), his sidekick Arthur (Burke), Capitan Liberty (Vassey), and Batmanuel (Carbonell). These four live in a city where being a superhero seems to be more like a vocation than a calling. They even need a license to practice their trade. (A requirement that was unknown to the Tick, who has to make up a real name in order to save the city legally.)
The series opens with the Tick narrating his own story; waxing poetic about the life of a superhero. He had become a regular at a bus station as he saved people from his "vending menace," i.e. a tricky coffee vending machine. He then leaves the bus station for "the City" where he meets Arthur and the rest of the gang.
To say the Tick is a man-child isn't entirely accurate. He is a superhuman being of unknown origin, but he is also a childlike innocent. He doesn't understand normal human relationships, that everyone dies, and that toilets don't talk. He also has a preternatural emotional attachment to Arthur, the Tick's first "damsel in distress"-cum-sidekick.
Most of the comedy is fueled by the Tick's reactions to seemingly normal everyday interactions. With the Tick's superhuman strength, his way with words, and his sweet earnestness, this is a very rich vein to mine. Arthur, Captain Liberty, and Batmanuel are the straight men and woman to the Tick's goofus. But it works.
While The Tick is generally a delight to behold, my one complaint is Captain Liberty. She falls continuously into the most expected gendered storylines. She is sexually liberated with a successful career. She's the symbol of everything that is good and decent about America due to her work for the United States government. Yet she is isn't happy. She often falls prey to plots that highlight her inability to find a man. However, these storylines are somewhat redeemed by the fact that they point out men's insecurities when it comes to powerful women. And Captain Liberty is never portrayed as weak. But still, I wish she could have just kicked ass without the additional difficulties.
Despite this imperfection, The Tick is a hilarious romp through the work-a-day lives of superheroes. It was canceled after only 8 of the 9 original episodes had aired, but all episodes are available on Netflix. It is definitely worth checking out. Just remember what the Tick says:
Destiny dressed you this morning my friend, and now Fear is trying to pull off your pants. If you give up, if you give in, you're gonna end up naked with Fear just standing there laughing at your dangling unmentionables!