THE TICK ANIMATED SERIES
The Tick animated series premiered in 1994 on the FOX Network’s FOX Kids block on Saturday mornings and it ran for three seasons for a total of 36 episodes. Edlund was approached in the early 1990s about merchandising The Tick, similar to how another independent cult comic book series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was mass-merchandised into a global cash cow, though the merchandising for The Tick never materialized into anywhere close to the success the Ninja Turtles enjoyed. The Tick‘s animated series was produced by Sunbow Entertainment, which produced the 1980s hits G.I. Joe, Transformers, and M.A.S.K. Edlund was a hands-on producer and writer for The Tick series.
In his animated incarnation, The Tick (voiced by Townsend Coleman) crashed a superhero convention in Reno, Nevada which won him “protectorship” over The City. Arthur (voiced by Micky Dolenz in season 1, Rob Paulsen in the later seasons) remained as The Tick’s loyal sidekick, but a plethora of memorable new supporting characters was introduced, each a parody of a famous superhero. There was an Aquaman parody named Sea Urchin who behaved like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, a star-spangled heroine named American Maid who was like a combination of Wonder Woman and Captain America, and best of all, Die Fledermaus, a shallow and self-adsorbed parody of Batman who spoke with an Adam West-like stern whisper.
Villains from the comics series like Chairface Chippendale and Barry Hubris found their way into the animated series and were joined by a motley crew of new, wacky baddies like the devious Professor Chromedome, the Eastern Bloc Urban Cowboy, the horrible alien creature Thrakkorzorg, the Whirling Scottish Dervish, Omnipotus (a send up of Marvel’s planet-eater Galactus), and Pineapple Pokopo.
After The Tick left FOX Kids, Comedy Central syndicated the series, which helped it grow in popularity among an adult audience. The series was then syndicated by other networks, but the Big Blue superhero himself would soon leave the confines of ink and paint behind and venture into a bold new world: live action television (briefly).
THE TICK 2001 FOX SERIES
A powerhouse Hollywood heavyweight helped muscle The Tick into prime time television: Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the Men in Black trilogy. Sonnenfeld, who also served as a producer, directed the pilot for the live action The Tick, a half-hour comedy which premiered on November 8, 2001. The Tick retained Ben Edlund as a writer-producer, and boasted production design by Bo Welch (Batman Returns). Patrick Warburton donned a blue costume complete with independently moving antennae designed by Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood, while David Burke took on the role of Arthur. This time, The Tick was haunting a local bus station and was implied to be an alien from outer space before he makes his way to The City as its new protector.
Going deeper into even more subversive and adult themes in its parody of established superhero tropes, such as the co-dependent homosexual relationship between the gruff Fiery Blaze (Ron Perlman) and his boy wonder sidekick Friendly Fire, The Tick also re-introduced a couple of the animated series’ most popular supporting characters in new incarnations. American Maid became Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey), a down-on-her-luck superhero government operative with a bit of a sordid past. Best of all was Die Fledermaus becoming Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), a preening, vainglorious, hilariously incompetent parody of Batman. (Carbonell would later play Gotham’s Mayor in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.) The Tick and Arthur would commiserate with Captain Liberty and Batmanuel in a local diner in every episode of the series’ truncated 9 episode run.
The Tick was canceled after 8 out of its 9 episodes aired. Warburton placed the blame for the cancellation square at the FOX Network, which didn’t own The Tick as it did its other series like 24 and The Bernie Mac Show. Placed in a timeslot opposite the then-mega hit Survivor, The Tick faced dwindling ratings and poor promotion from the network. The Tick‘s entire 9 episode run later became available in its DVD release and streaming on Netflix.
THE TICK ON AMAZON PRIME
15 years after the previous live action series was canceled by FOX, Amazon Prime Video, in its bid to create original television content to compete with Netflix and Hulu, commissioned a new live action pilot for The Tick for its streaming service. Premiering on August 18, 2016, the new hour hour live action comedy incarnation of The Tick stars Peter Serafinowicz as the bombastic big blue hero and Griffin Newman as Arthur. The new Tick retains Ben Edlund, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Patrick Warburton as producers and the pilot was directed by Wally Pfister, the former cinematographer of The Dark Knight and director of Transcendant.
The new Tick series shifts the POV to Arthur, who lost his father at a young age to super villains and begins investing crime in The City, eventually running afoul of The Tick. The new series also places a heavier focus on Arthur’s relationship with his sister Dot (Valerie Curry), who wants to save her brother from getting himself killed. The new Big Bad of the series is The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), a legendary super villain who gruesomely murdered the City’s previous superhero team, the Flag Five, with weaponized syphilis. The new Tick series explores darker and more violent superhero undertones while still maintaining The Tick’s offbeat humor and trademark send ups of the superhero genre.
The Tick‘s 12 episode first season premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, August 25, 2017. Fans can expect to meet a plethora of new characters such as the electrical villain Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez), the brutal vigilante Overkill (Scott Speiser), and Superian (Brendan Hines), the City’s greatest and most egotistical hero who somewhat resembles a certain Man of Steel from Krypton.
If history has proven anything, you cannot keep a good Tick down. Three decades after his creation, The Tick continues to thrive and is poised to leap to new heights while delivering heaping bowls of rich, creamy justice to fans old and new – who should eat it all up with The Tick’s classically non-sensical battlecry – “SPOOOOON!!!”
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