Certain comedies get better as they go along, when the writers and the actors have all had a chance to gel and figure out what everyone’s strengths and weakness are. That’s certainly true of Amazon’s The Tick, as it feels almost like an entirely new show at the start of season 2. Some of that is certainly due to the show’s continued refinement of Tick’s (Peter Serafinowicz) suit (or is it his body?), which has entered its third iteration since the series began in August of 2017. The new suit is much more practical, and it allows for a greater range of motion for the man wearing it, which in turn lets The Tick worry less about how its title character looks and more about the level of self-awareness it wants to infuse into its ongoing story of hopelessly flawed superheroes fighting crime in a city called the City.
At times it felt as though season 1 of The Tick was an attempt for the show to find how it fit with the current glut of superhero films and TV series as much as it was about the effort of Tick and his nascent sidekick, Arthur (Griffin Newman), to root out evil and discover their place among the alleged pantheon of heroes sworn to protecting the City. Tone and pacing were common issues throughout the first season, which were then exacerbated by a protracted midseason break (almost six months). And still, even upon the series’ return, the balance between humor and superhero action felt off and the serialized nature of the series couldn’t quite turn a plot involving the return of the Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) into the kind of energized storytelling previous incarnations of The Tick enjoyed.
That isn’t an issue for season 2, which returns a funnier, faster-paced, and far more confident series than it was in season 1. From the first episode on, The Tick feels very much like the buddy comedy it was meant to be. Serafinowicz and Newman enjoy an easy chemistry with one another, which along with the self-aware, super-heroic dialogue, becomes key to the season’s early success. It helps that Arthur is fully committed to his role as a superhero, and that his family is (for the most part) supportive of his decision to pursue a life of crimefighting while also being an accountant. Removing the will they or won’t they from Tick and Arthur’s relationship gets the series off on the right foot, allowing the show to lean into the absurdity of its premise and its characters by making it all seem perfectly normal for these two heroes.
Season 2 has some help in the normalizing department, as the defeat of the Terror has brought a huge influx of extremely weird (and often ridiculous) heroes and villains to the City, thanks in large part to A.E.G.I.S (The Tick’s cheeky riff on S.H.I.E.L.D.) re-opening a branch in Tick and Arthur’s neck of the woods. That opens the door for the series to get precisely as weird as it need to, introducing characters like Steve Ogg’s semi-retired Flexon (a Tick analogue to Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic), John Hodgman’s Hobbes, and Marc Kudisch as the hyper masculine, tough-as-nails head of A.E.G.I.S., Tyrannosaurus ‘Ty’ Rathbone.
Part of what has made The Tick an enduring character since the 1980s is the ever-changing community of oddballs he is surrounded by. While Arthur is and will always be the Watson to his dim-bulb Sherlock Holmes, the franchise has proven adept at introducing new characters who are inherently ridiculous but just serious enough to work, and to keep things fresh, interesting, and funny.
Season 2 also introduces a new plot line for Arthur’s sister Dot (Valerie Curry), as she begins to wonder whether or not Arthur’s the only one in the family destined to spend their spare time seeking justice. This thread works to give Tick and Arthur some breathing room, but it also spares Curry from being primarily relegated to reacting to the danger her onscreen sibling finds himself in. In her expanded role, Dot manages to get into some trouble and forge a bond with Overkill (Scott Speiser), which, in turn, offers that character a chance to be something more than a spoof on hyper-violent vigilante characters who rose to prominence in the ‘90s.
The biggest improvements in season 2, however, are in how the season is structured. Though the overarching narrative of the season is still serialized, each episode functions on its own as a complete episode of television. Having a distinct beginning, middle, and end focuses the story and the comedy on more specific elements integral to the episode at hand. As a result, the jokes are funnier, the action livelier, and the story threads more compelling.
All in all, The Tick returns with the terrific new season of television. More heroes, more villains — all of them ridiculous in their own way — means more opportunities for laughs and for superhero action. Much like the Tick’s costume, the series received the right kind of upgrade in between seasons, and in doing so has become a real contender in the world of superhero TV.
The Tick season 2 is available starting April 5 on Amazon Prime Video.