Ah, my friends. Let me tell you about the greatest show in the history of the universe: The Tick.
(Just to be quite clear, I’m talking about the original cartoon from the early ’90’s, not the live action television show from 2001. The live action show had moments of brilliance, but nowhere near the level of the cartoon.)
What to say about The Tick? I love it so much that I don’t even know where to start. I feel like any words I put down here are not going to really capture the essence of the show. Of all the times that I’ve tried to tell someone about the show, or explain a particularly funny scene, it just always seems to fall flat. But you could say that about a lot of things I try to write about, so once more unto the breach as it were.
I guess I’ll just start with this picture of me in my Tick costume from 2002:
I have enjoyed a lot of shows over the years, but none more than The Tick. It only lasted 3 seasons, and it has been off the air for almost 16 years now, but I can still recall nearly every episode. Basically, they all went like this: some ridiculous super villain shows up, the tick bumbles his way through, relying on exuberance more than intelligence, until his semi-reluctant sidekick Arthur comes up with a legitimate plan to save the day, with or without the help of a ridiculous cast of super heroes that inhabit “The City”, after which The Tick wrapped up (?) the whole episode with an absurd and strangely worded “moral lesson”, like the ending to some kind of surreal episode of Full House.
Something like, “When a nice clean brain tumbles into the dirty street to lay among the discarded wrappers and spat-out gum wads of wickedness, you can’t just pick it up and wash it off with soap and water; you have to think it clean from the inside out.” Or “Let your journey into hugeness teach us all a lesson. Absolute power is a sticky wicket. And, Arthur, chum, you were the stickiest. Don’t you get it, good friend? Some of the best things come in small packages. But large things can’t. Unless they’re inflatable, or require some assembly, or unless they’re hearts. Yes, giant, juicy, loving hearts. As big as the moon, but much, much warmer. ”
The Tick was a parody of superheros and comic books, two things which I love. The best thing about it were the characters. They weren’t anything like the prototypical comic book heroes and villains we knew and loved. They were weak, they were stupid, they were arrogant, they were cowardly. Their powers were lame and their schemes and plans were even lamer. The heroes often did more harm to The City than the villains (such as the Tick, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, breaking off chunks of stone and decorative moldings with his clumsy bulk).
There were heroes such as Bi-Polar Bear (“This looks like a job for Bi-Polar Bear… but I just cant seem to get out of bed.”), the Caped Chameleon (“Can’t…do….plaid”), Baby Boomerangutuang (A combination baby boomer / boomerang throwing orangutan), or Sarcastro (a Castro look-alike who fights crime with the “razor sharp sting of sarcasm”) who engaged in battles with villains like the Deadly Bulb (a.k.a. “pigleg”, who happens to have a pig for a leg, so he became a super villain to keep people from noticing that), Stalingrad (he’s not actually evil, just a graduate student who happens to look like Joseph Stalin, which is enough to qualify him as a villain) and, my all time favorite, The Evil Midnight Bomber (What Bombs at Midnight!)
The Tick himself was a fantastic character. He was stone stupid, but had an endless enthusiasm that kept him going when all the other heroes fell by the wayside. Stupidity and child-like exuberance are a great recipe for a character, a la Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin.
I could throw great quotes at you, or episode synopses, but none of those could make you love The Tick the way you aught to. Do yourself a favor and spend some time on youtube watching some clips. Or start with the quick compilation below: