|by Chris Parry
"Yes, evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Joseph Stalin, but you can't let the package hide the pudding! Evil is just plain bad! You don't coddle it, you've gotta smack it on the nose with the rolled-up newspaper of goodness! Bad dog! Bad dog!" Fans of the animated TV superhero series, The Tick, have long cried out for a healthy dose of more. The well-written comedy franchise has developed a cult following over the past decade as it has replayed over and over again on Comedy Central and the Cartoon Network, so when news of Barry Sonnenfeld's live action TV series on the one-time comicbook character found its way to fans, there was a great deal of expectation that this would be something special. Unfortunately, as always happens when something special gets to Fox TV, The Tick was underhyped, slapped in a crappy timeslot, shown out of sequence, cut to pieces, moved around and eventually dropped altogether. Thankfully, as has been shown with similar Fox foul-ups The Family Guy and Futurama, quality TV can always be salvaged in the land of DVD, and The Tick: The Entire Series proves exactly how awful the decision makers at Fox really are.
The Tick (Patrick Warburton) is a superhero from parts unknown. A big blue guy with ridiculously immense strength and two antennas with a mind of their own, he patrols the rooftop of a desert bus station, waging an ongoing war against the satanic coffee machine.
"Give up that bitter black urine men call coffee! (Crunch!) Ahh, Java devil, you are now my bitch."
But when a quick thinking bus station employee drops a bus ticket at The Tick's feet, the big guy decides he must have had a pre-made plan to hit The City. It's there that he meets Arthur (David Burke), an accountant with a moth-like flying suit and big dreams of being super, and the two duly team up to fight villains.
Well, that's the plan anyway. What they really do mostly is sit around a chinese restaurant with compadres Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell) and Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey), waxing lyrical about the state of superhero life, which is, actually, where the series reaches its peak.
"Mandingo! How I grock your mouth music..."
The writing behind this series is absolutely outstanding. The original creator of the characters, Ben Edlund, succeeds where the makers of Mystery Men failed by making his characters truly unique, truly average (except for The Tick), and truly verbose.
"You're on a first name basis with lucidity, little friend. I have to call it 'mister' lucidity and that's no good in a pinch."
Nobody could have played The Tick but Patrick Warburton, who almost seems to have been forged in a foundry with no other purpose but to be in this series.
"Fight fire with... Arthur!"
David Burke, Nestor Carbonell and Liz Vassey are also top notch, perfect for their characters and delivering comedy with a deft touch. While Burke plays the straight man to Warburton's insane melonheaded blue bug-man, Vassey gives great angry as the gorgeous tough girl of the group, and Carbonell's smarmy Batmanuel is almost worthy of a series of his own.
When you watch these episodes in sequence, it's hard not to feel that The Tick is more than a TV show; rather, it's closer to a big budget superhero comedy that's been cut into half hour sections. The pilot episode, especially, is fantastic stuff, and sets up the world the series is based in exactly as it should.
Of course, when showing on TV, a series rarely gets to our screens without being beaten up by numerous parties. The lawyers get stuck in and make cuts, the standards department makes more, the executives show the episodes out of sequence, the marketers mismanage the promotional strategies that are supposed to get people to watch, and if the whole thing fails to catch fire in the first few weeks, it's desperation time from then on.
And if that isn't easy enough to spot when watching this DVD set, the commentaries by the creators, including Barry Sonnenfeld himself, fill you in on all the behind the scenes info that stopped them from being able to make the series they wanted. Like when an episode set in a mental asylum was cut up because Fox didn't want to show someone in a strait-jacket - in case someone with a mental illness took offence. Riiiight.
"Well, good gravy! We are a well-oiled machine! "
The two-disc set comes in widescreen format, with all nine episodes of the show that were produced (including one not seen on TV), commentaries by Sonnenfeld and creator Ben Edlund, and a couple of trailers that serve little or no purpose to fans of the series. In short, itf you liked The Tick in either the earlier animated series, the comicbook that came before that or the live action series itself, this is a great buy.
But as someone who really thought what I saw on TV during the first run of this show amounted to a misfire, I can safely say that people who weren't fans of the series should give this a try. In short, The Tick: The Entire Series is the way the makers wanted this show to be seen, and in my opinion it's a dman shame we had to wait for the DVD to make that happen.
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originally posted: 04/21/04 17:30:57
last updated: 12/30/04 22:08:10