“You’re not going crazy, Arthur. You’re going sane in a crazy world.” – The Tick
Yet another superhero TV show, because there’s not enough of those currently airing. This one doesn’t seem to be affiliated with either Marvel or DC (still based from a comic book in the 90s though), which makes it accessible for completist people like me who don’t like having to watch 12 titles just to get a thorough sense of a fictional world.
The show hits all the tropes— one-note supers (villains and heroes alike) with human leads whose selling point is the fact that they’re not cartoonish by comparison. Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman) is a dorky everyman (he’s even an accountant!) consumed by trying to prove the show’s Big Bad, The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley is radical and menacing in his one scene terrorizing a shocked little boy and drinking his melted yogurt), hasn’t been killed by the City’s reigning superhero, Superian.
Arthur stakes out a camp he thinks The Terror is organizing and meets The Tick, a weirdo superhero (Peter Serafinowicz) clad in pure polyester bright blue which makes it impossible for him to move in any way natural. His otherworldly personality reminds me of Zorn from this recently cancelled show Son of Zorn—and that guy was an actual cartoon! Serafinowicz’s dulcet tones is perfect for the voice overs and narration, though. The authorities catch Arthur in a bit of B&E, and we get a glimpse of his backstory. He wanted to be a superhero up until that moment his kind father was smashed to bits by a superhero spaceship that crashed because The Terror has blinded the heroes inside.
The way absurd, cartoonish, fantasy scenes melded with real, human emotion (mostly by the young Arthur’s face as he witnessed the sudden death of his dad) sets this show apart from all the superhero shows that preceded it. It allows itself to be its most absurd, but also forces its human characters to deal with the aftermath in a realistic way. Or at least, that one scene of the lead character’s dad dying.
Arthur is damaged by witnessing the whole ordeal of his father’s death and superheroes being murdered point blank. He’s on medication, his sister frets about him and he has been living with her up until recently. He is unhealthily obsessed, and prone to seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. And now, this big, burly, and blue superhero crashes through his apartment, pulling wall fixtures expecting to open an entrance to his secret lab (assuming everyone has secret labs), giving him a superhero suit and dubbing him—to his reluctance—as his sidekick.
It’s Ben Edlund’s second attempt at this exact same TV show— the first time with Patrick Warburton as The Tick in 2002 which actually makes more sense, but Serafinowicz has been doing good so far. His voice sells it.
VERDICT: I’d watch the next episode, sure— but no rush.