New York – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, Arrow, The Defenders – superhero shows abound on television, and yet more evils seem to exist than all of them put together can trounce.
After an absence of 16 years, the bright blue and over-the-top hero, The Tick, returns to the superhero arena with his antennae, his herculean strength, and deep, gravelly newscaster voice to boot.
Originally created as a comic strip in the ‘80s by Ben Edlund, The Tick’s third TV revival debuts on Friday, 25 August, on Amazon Video. It premieres just a few weeks after a lackluster reception of Marvel’s The Defenders, and enters into a superhero-saturated new TV season. The line-up over the next few months includes new seasons of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Gotham.
Watch the trailer here:
As a comic strip, an animated series and a short-lived sitcom in 2001, The Tick enjoys cult status, yet that doesn’t lower the stakes. A lot is riding on this fourth iteration, and a second season depends on the viewers, says Edlund. Good old ratings.
Of the cast, some of the names might sound somewhat obscure, though the faces will certainly be familiar. Ms. Lint is played by Yara Martinez, best known for her role in Jane the Virgin as Rafael’s sister, Luisa. Valorie Curry, who delivered a frightening performance in The Following, plays Arthur’s sister, Dot and Brendan Hines, who we most recently saw in Scorpion and Suits, stars as Superion – the world’s first superhero. In the title role is Peter Serafinowicz, who starred opposite Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy.
While Edlund, who has been involved in every iteration of his big blue buffoon, says he has a five-year plan for the show, both he and the cast were united in their nervousness at the show’s premiere in New York. All of them grinning awkwardly, mumbling “we have to wait and see,” as they posed, smiled and waved on the red carpet.
But one cast member’s wide grin, that of newcomer Griffin Newman, was a show of pure joy. Newman, taken aback by the flashing cameras, scorching white lights and multiple voice recorders pointed at his face, gushes about his role as Arthur, originally The Tick’s meek and blubbering sidekick. In this retelling, however, The Tick and Arthur seems a more apt show title. The timid accountant is side-kick no more.
The premiere screening reveals that Newman and Arthur are quite alike and Newman readily admits to this, adding that he lives his character “non-stop, 24/7, 365.” Edlund’s decision to add more meat to all the characters’ superhero bones, especially Arthur, begets radical changes, essentially pushing the mild-mannered bundle of nerves to the front, and placing him on equal footing with The Tick.
A FAN OF THE TICK
As an actor still relatively new to the screen, Newman describes Arthur’s semi-recreation as a “surreal responsibility.” Bizarre too – Newman grew up as a fan of The Tick, once awarded a spot on IGN’s list of the top 100 comic book heroes, and years later he portrays the character he so admired.
“Arthur and The Tick are both very flawed and very different people,” says Newman. “They haven’t been able to successfully exist without each other in the world, yet they still have to learn how to live with each other.” A case of opposites attract, says a laughing Newman. “The Tick is all action, Arthur is all fear, but together they make at least one functional human being.”
People think he’s joking when he describes the show as a romantic comedy, but after a couple of episodes, his take on the bromance makes sense. Their relationship starts off rocky and buzzes with friction. “It doesn’t immediately work, like a lot of relationships. But it really is about two guys falling in love with each other and learning to coexist.”
Edland chuckles at Newman’s romantic interpretation, but agrees wholeheartedly.
For Newman, the past few months have been a whirlwind. “I feel I’ve gotten the chance to do the thing that I always wished someone would let me do,” he says and adds jokingly (or maybe not so much…) that now that he’s been cast in his dream role, he has no ambition left.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. I’ve played a superhero, I’ve always wanted to do stunts and I’ve always wanted to play a version of something I grew up loving.”
He declares in all faux seriousness: “I might retire after this…I might just end my career.”
If the show is to hold its own amidst all the superheroes on primetime TV, Edlund and his co-showrunner, David Fury (well-known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lost and 24) will have to double down not just on the quirkiness of The Tick and Arthur’s relationship, but also the main thing that sets the show apart: Humour. It parodies superhero tropes to the extreme, making fun of the absurdities we are so accustomed to. One of these is The Tick’s voice, another his battle-cry (“Spoon!”), and the character archetypes: The villain, the loyal sister, the femme fatale… To this Edland says the wide array of superhero shows actually serves them well – the more shows, the more there is to make fun of.
Edland’s gambit with his blue hero is to change him as the world does, says Newman.
There are always new evils and heroes – especially beloved ones – have to change to be able to defeat them.
(Photos supplied Amazon)