Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 by Angie Han
When the original The Tick live-action series debuted in 2001, it was a very different time for superheroes. X-Men had hit theaters the year before, but Spider-Man, Batman Begins, and Iron Man were still to come, and while comic book shows were definitely around (Smallville debuted that same season), they were nowhere near as ubiquitous they are now.
In contrast, Amazon’s upcoming revival of The Tick is coming into a landscape dominated by Marvel and DC characters, with no end to the trend in sight. So how can The Tick, as yet another superhero series, make itself feel fresh and distinctive in the middle of a superhero boom? After the jump, the team behind The Tick discuss the revival’s “darker and more grounded” tone, and its still-unique position in the superhero genre.
To back up a bit: the last The Tick live-action series was well liked by critics and fans, but struggled in the ratings at Fox and was axed after just 9 episodes. Nevertheless, in the 15 years since it aired, it’s gained enough of a cult following that this year, Amazon Studios ordered a pilot for a The Tick revival. Original series creator Ben Edlund got back on board, but with actor Patrick Warburton tied up with other commitments, Peter Serafinowicz was cast to fill the bright blue suit.
Speaking recently to Entertainment Weekly, Amazon exec Joe Lewis gushed about The Tick‘s uniqueness:
It feels like on one hand you can say the superhero landscape is crowded but I think over the last two decades of it there’s nothing else like The Tick. I feel like it has found this unique place where it’s long existed as a satire and I thought that we had the possibility here to do something really different — something that’s filled with satire but also true to action-comedies and superhero comedies.
However, there will be some differences between the last The Tick live-action series and the new one. For starters, the concept has been tweaked a bit. While the 2001 show followed the Tick, his trusty sidekick Arthur, and their superhero pals Captain Liberty and Batmanuel, the upcoming series will follow the Tick, Arthur, and Arthur’s caring sister Dot (Valorie Curry). And then there’s the tone of the show, which Edlund said will differ slightly:
We’ve got this show about superheroes [where] we get to have fun with the idea of superheroes by starting with kind of a comedic parody of [an] event-oriented-like universe. It will be darker and more grounded. And it’s going to have a real story, a real hero’s myth. We’re the ones that get to have fun with it and that’s kind of the situation where right now that’s an open field in this area of entertainment.
It’s probably not surprising that Edlund wants to take The Tick in a “darker and more grounded” direction. “Darker and more grounded” is just where superheroes live now, and even the more light-hearted shows and movies tend to take the concept of superhero-ing pretty seriously. But it sounds like The Tick will retain its sense of humor, and thank goodness for that. Lord knows we could use a sharp and silly satire to skewer some of the ponderous superhero sagas we have unfolding onscreen right now.
While the original The Tick live-action series was lightly serialized, the Amazon format, which lends itself to binge-watching, could potentially allow for greater connections between episodes of the revival. Although Amazon has only ordered a pilot so far — meaning there’s no guarantee we’ll ever get an episode 2, let alone a full season — Edlund has high hopes for The Tick revival:
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I think we are shooting for kind of a really interesting goal, which is the sort of superhero comedy that you keep wanting to come back to. So we are going to try and land an amazing airplane here. But I think so far we are just building this fantastic siege engine that’s going to attack your heart.