Oh, City, my City! I shall spread my buttery justice over all your
nooks and crannies!
The stars glimmer brightly
over a lonely rural bus depot. As we focus on the depot itself, a voice-over
hints at the lawlessness of this place, and the need for a defender.
Luckily that defender
stands proudly on the roof, as if Michelangelo had sculpted him of marble,
if only marble were a bright blue. Never mind that it turns out the
voice-over isn't a voice-over at all, but the constant interior monologue
that The Tick constantly forgets to keep interior. This azure avenger
is, indeed, that same Tick.
For fans of the
comics and the earlier animated series, rest easy. He may look a little
different in the maskless guise of Patrick Warburton, but at heart,
this is the same lunk-headed hero. And somehow Warburton has managed
to find a whole new kind of sincere cluelessness within himself, differing
The Tick from earlier roles like Kronk (The Emperor's New Groove)
and Puddy (Seinfeld). If anything, he echoes the best moments
of Adam West, more as a kind, off-kilter beloved uncle - in skin-tight
The regulars at
the bus depot have no idea where The Tick came from, nor do they want
him to stay. After defeating an evil coffee machine, The Tick gets easily
tricked into heading for The City. As he leaves, he offers this advice
to a teen-ager: "this hubcap wasn't really magic. The magic was in you
With nothing but
optimism, The Tick begins his new life in a thriving metropolis, just
as a meek accountant named Arthur (David Burke) decides that it's time
to become a moth-themed superhero. Up to this point the details remain
familiar to Tick fans, but here copyright issues raise their ugly heads.
The producers of
the animated series have retained the rights to most of the characters
from the cartoon, and many of the plot details. Forced into a new continuity
yet again, creator Ben Edlund keeps the spark of the old while giving
us a new story.
Having quit his
job, Arthur drinks himself stupid at the local hero hangout, The Lonely
Panda. He steps outside, determined to make his first flight, but loses
his courage. But like a demented super-strong beat poet, The Tick bounds
above the skyline, declaiming his love for his new home ("I shall spread
my buttery justice over all your nooks and crannies…"). Throw in an
obsolete Soviet robot called The Red Menace, and you've got yourself
an origin story.
Also involved are
thinly-disguised versions of the cartoon's most frequent guest-stars.
Nestor Carbonell gives a Latin-lover flavor to Die Fleidermaus, now
known as Bat Manuel. This dark knight still retains the animated one's
narcissism and reluctance to actually fight, but now actually scores
a lot. As he winks and nudges The Tick, "I had to rescue those supermodels
five times in one night, if you catch my meaning."
Playing foil to
Bat Manuel is Liz Vassey as Captain Liberty, a much-improved version
of American Maid. Literally carrying a torch for Bat Manuel, the two
provide much erotic tension, only ruined by her insistence on actually
fighting crime. She may be the best-equipped hero of the bunch, and
that actually isn't a snarky comment.
Edlund and director
Barry Sonnenfeld have both done a neat job of working around the fact
that as a sitcom, they don't have much of a budget. At least in the
first couple of episodes, it's quite funny that every impressive effect
and menace is offstage. Captain Liberty drops down from "…the coolest
copter (The Tick) has ever seen," except that we do not see it at all.
And in the last minute of the first episode, a tremendous menace arises
with one of the best super-villain names ever. But again, we can only
As in other incarnations,
The Tick is about the private lives of superheroes who never
actually take off their costumes. (And really, after seeing Warburton's
suit, you would have to wonder how he would take it off anyway.) Already
it looks like The Lonely Panda will be the centerpiece of the show.
But if Edlund and Sonnenfeld can keep up the clever dialogue, we may
forget that, like Warburton's previous sitcom, this is actually a show
I'm starting the
call now, though, that fans will want a feature film version. It's that
this and more in the Fanboy forums.