More than 30 years ago, a kid in Massachusetts named Ben Edlund created a mock superhero called “The Tick.” Two years later, the big blue goofball got his own comic book series, then an animated show that aired for three years in the 1990s, and finally a live action show in 2001.
Alas, the series lasted only nine episodes, in spite of getting lots of love from critics and cult followers of “The Tick.”
Edlund refused to give up. He believed in his creation and now, so has Amazon, which has relaunched a live-action “Tick,” available for streaming on Friday.
This time, the Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) is a blue-clad crime fighter who has a lot of brawn but is kind of, well, flea-brained.
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He’s not the only superhero in the city. There’s also Superian (Brendan Hines), who at least looks like a superior being: chiseled jaw, perfect hair, twinkling eyes. There is also the mysterious Overkill (Scott Speiser), who lives up to his name but we’re not sure which side he’s on.
The City is also plagued by villains. The baddest, The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), is thought to be dead. But there are others, including Ramses IV (Michael Cerveris), who’s got an Egyptian thing going on, and Miss Lint (Yara Martinez), who dresses in black and has only one eye. Apparently no one told her that lint is more visible on black, and she’s constantly surrounded by the stuff.
One person who is certain The Terror still lives is a mild-mannered, bespectacled accountant, Arthur (Griffin Newman). He’s been obsessively mapping bad activities that have all the earmarks of The Terror for a long time to prove his case. But becoming a superhero himself was never part of the bargain.
That’s what he becomes, though, thanks to the Tick, who outfits him with a moth suit that includes retractable wings and special goggles that are supposed to help him activate the suit’s powers.
Needless to say, Arthur has an extended period of adjustment.
All of this is played for laughs, but the kind of laughs Edlund goes for may elude some viewers. Mostly, the show is droll. There are few if any sidesplitting moments, and you have to listen carefully to catch some of the deadpan moments.
Newman does much of the heavy lifting and succeeds at being inept and unlikely. Serafinowicz partially models his Tick after Patrick Warburton’s portrayal in the 2001 version, but he brings his own quirkiness to the role.
Cerveris and Martinez are the Boris and Natasha of the piece, and equally spot-on performances are delivered by Speiser, Hines and, as Arthur’s sister, Valorie Curry. And any time you have Jackie Earle Haley playing a supervillain, you know you are in good, lethal hands.
‘The Tick’ is available for streaming Aug. 25 on Amazon.