"The Tick" Season 2 Review

And the ten episodes of the newest The Tick dropped on Amazon Video on April 5. It's taken me a week to watch the entire season, so here we go.

Peter Serafinowicz, The Tick S02E01

I'm not going to try and summarize the entire season episode by episode, but here are the main storylines. AEGIS is back in the City and reforming the Flag-5. Arthur (Griffin Newman) wants to be a member of the superhero team because it's his lifelong dream, even though he isn't a "Category". The Tick (Peter Serafniowicz) goes along with his buddy because he's his buddy.

Nothing is revealed about the Tick's past.

Dot (Valorie Curry) has a precognitive superability, allowing her to dodge incoming bullets and avoid danger.

Overkill (Scott Speiser) likes to dance.

Dangerboat (voice of Alan Tudyk) likes The Princess Bride and still has a crush on Arthur.

Walter (Francois Chau) was an AEGIS agent who fell in love with Joan (Patricia Kalember) and after he retired, got close to her and they eventually married.

Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez) becomes Joan of Arc, a costumed superhero so she can take out her rivals, and is apparently attracted to what Tick describes as "The Hero's Journey".

Superian (Brendan Hines) is still dealing--badly--with the fact people dislike him since he thought Terror was dead last season but wasn't.

Lobstercules (voice of Liz Vassey), a humanoid lobster, is at large in the city robbing banks. It turns out she's being coerced because the bad guys have captured her children. Five young singing lobsters who Tick and Arthur babysit when Lobstercules is taken into AEGIS custody.

The R&D head at AEGIS, Hobbes (John Hodgman), is actually a mole who framed Overkill for a failed mission years ago, and has developed mind control technology to let him eliminate Categories and restore humanity to its "pure" genetic structure.

Sage (Cle Bennett) has a third-eye nipple. Which makes him a bit like Jefferson Twilight on The Venture Bros.

Bronze Star (Adam Henry Garcia) apparently has no superpowers. Although he's presumably a Category. Otherwise, he's just a guy covered in bronze who is a star.

The croissants at the AEGIS superhero lounge are really good.

Marc Kudisch, The Tick S02E10

There's a lot more jokes and gags, but the overall season plot is mostly Arthur and Tick dealing with the arrival of AEGIS in the City. However, AEGIS isn't as squeaky-clean as is believed, and as noted, Hobbes is secretly engineering his scheme to eradicate Categories. He takes control of Overkill and has him kill Rathbone, the AEGIS director, and then takes his place. It takes nine episodes to get to that point, and the denouement is pretty quick. Hobbes mind controls the imprisoned Lobstercules, Lint teams up with Hobbes, but then walks away to rob AEGIS, Arthur tackles Hobbes and smashes his mind control device, Overkill and Lobstercules are freed, Rathbone comes back to life because of a tentacled creature in his "black hole heart", and at the end of the day everyone is happy except Hobbes. Who is presumably in an AEGIS cell somewhere.

The other plots wander in and out of the season. Superian takes some therapy advice from Arthur, but it doesn't go well, and as he prepares to reverse Earth's rotation and either go back into the past to when he was popular, or send seven billion people spinning off the planet, an alien spaceship arrives and tells the "fugitive prisoner" to surrender.

Lint has a series of trope-licious conversations with her mirror reflection, who tells her she likes being a superhero. But in the end, it turns out she's a villain after all.

The Flag-5 protocol is put on hold because of Lint, but Arthur is happy even though he didn't get his dream of joining the group.

Steven Ogg, The Tick S02E10The Tick is much more of a drama than its predecessors. A "dramedy", as I believe they call it. As opposed to a "com-ma". So while there are plenty of LOL moments, it's not as funny as either the animated series or the 2001 live-action series, which Liz Vassey was also in, as Captain Liberty rather than Lobstercules. The Tick isn't the only source of humor: Dangerboat's ongoing crush on Arthur, the spot-on Punisher parody with Overkill (i.e,."Big Shot", if you're familiar with Tick lore), and the goofy superheroes Sage and Flexon (Steven Ogg). Although no sign of De Fledermaus, Sewer Urchin, or American Maid.

There's also various shots at the Superman/Reeves movies as they do parodies of the "can you read my mind?" scene from the first movie, Superian considering throwing all of Earth's nuclear weapons into the sun (from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), and Superian's plan to reverse the Earth's spin and somehow reverse time.

The Tick is either more realistic or a deconstruction of the various other superhero movies and TV shows. Take your pick. The whole "AEGIS has a dark secret and one of its leading members is really a bad guy" is pretty standard Superhero Media 101. With a few less humorous touches, it could be the plot of a season of Arrow or The Flash or The Gifted. The fact Tom O'Keefe has a recurring bit as a Glenn Beck-style anti-Superian TV commentator, and O'Keefe also had a recurring role in The Gifted, doesn't help prevent the similarities.

If there is a problem with The Tick season 2, it's that it shares the title character's short attention span. It's about the Tick. No, it's about Arthur. No, it's about Dot. No, it's about Overkill. No, it's about Dangerboat. No, it's about Superian going psycho. No, it's about Lint's dabbling with superherodom. No, it's about Walter and the fact he's not what he seems. No, it's about the whole conspiracy within AEGIS. About the time you get interested in one plot, the story moves on to another and shelves the first one.

Valorie Curry, Scott Speiser, The Tick S02E10

As I sort of noted earlier, the show also shifts tonally from scene to scene. Sometimes it's dead serious. Sometimes it goes for inspired lunacy: the Tick's ramblings, Overkill breaking out into a dance party, Dangerboat's doomed attraction to Arthur. The show loses Jackie Earle Haley in season two since his character the Terror was taken out of the commission at the end of season one. That's a shame, as Haley's Terror walked the thin line between humor and drama while holding his own by hamming it up. And the directors gave him plenty of camera time to ham it up. This year, there's no real central villain other than the mostly-unassuming Hobbes. Martinez's Lint, for instance, seems mostly lost in all the proceedings. Either the creative team doesn't have a handle on what they want to do with her, or can't be bothered to tell the viewers.

The show also suffers from cliffhanger-itis. Season two ends with aliens coming to collect Superian, a character who hasn't been that interesting beyond his Superman parody ability. Lint walks away a villain but presumably she'll be back. A tentacled creature does... something with Rathbone, bringing him back to life. Dot and Overkill are the only ones who get any real character advancement, and Dot joining Overkill in his celebration dance in the middle of the AEGIS press conference is both touching and speaks well for both characters.

Arthur has embraced his heroic lifestyle. But he had sort of done that anyway at the end of season one. The fact he loses his "dream" of becoming a Flag-5 member is sad, yes. But we've never seen him wanting to be a member much prior to this season. When the season is only ten 30-minute episodes, having a character subplot introduced and then resolved just isn't that involving.

Peter Serafinowicz, Griffin Newman, The Tick S02E10

The Tick is still the Tick, and as noted earlier, we don't find out anything new about him. We do learn in the first episode he's molting his original (and actor-confining) costume for a more streamlined look. If anything, he gets rather minimized in the show named after him. I'm not sure if a life-action show could sustain wall-to-wall Tick. The 2001 series couldn't do it and didn't try. So whether the relative lack of Tickiness is good or bad varies from viewer to viewer.

Overall, The Tick remains an above-average parody of superheroes. Despite the humor of the concept and the main character, it's not as funny as DC's Legends of Tomorrow. It's a weird hybrid of superhero comedy and drama that's not for everyone, and the comedy is sometimes incidental. If you like superheroes and superpowers on TV, you'll like it. If you want a more comedic take on superheroes beyond the occasional snarkiness and cultural references of The Gifted and the CW shows, you'll like it. If you go in expecting flat-out comedy, prepare to be disappointed. The Tick wants to have its cake and eat it too: poke fun at superhero tropes while using them itself.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Apr 14, 2019

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