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STUDIO: Walt Disney Video
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 255 Minutes
• Includes collectible lithograph
A second helping of Spooooooooooon! for fans of absurdist comedy.
The Tick, Arthur, Die Fleidermaus, American Maid, Chairface Chippendale, El Seed, Sewer Urchin, Human Bullet, The Decency Squad, Charles, The Deadly Bulb, The Fin, The Ottoman Empress, Taft, and many more.
A cult and personal favorite, The Tick follows the exploits of its titular superhero, an invincible man-child with his former accountant sidekick Arthur (replete with moth costume and wings) as they go about their daily routine of protecting ‘The City’ from evildoers (generally of the indescribably ridiculous variety). Along with their fellow heroes Die Fleidermaus (a cowardly ladies man), American Maid (the only truly capable hero in the entire series) and Sewer Urchin (a Rainman meets Aquaman collision), our heroes go about their daily routines and keep The City safe from peril.
The great thing about The Tick (besides it being a great thing) is its crossover appeal between children (it’s an inherently silly show that features genuine action sequences, so the kids can be engrossed despite not actually entirely absorbing the humor that’s being thrown at them) and adults (most of the references and lampooning of superhero convention are meant for a more astute audience), and I appreciate these episodes even more a decade later when a lot of what’s being done here is much more evident to me. This series has aged like a fine wine, as I didn’t expect to laugh out loud as many times as I did over the duration of this set. There’s your garden variety mockery of comic book staples (The Decency Squad and their decidedly Silver Age escapades are delightful), and a multitude of ridiculous villains (every episode has some amazingly silly concept thrown into it). Really, there’s not enough that could be said about the rogues gallery assembled for this series. You have the Deadly Bulb, who inexplicably has a live pig for a left foot (that moves of its own volition, no less); you’ve got the Fin, the super-intelligent dolphin who’s out for payback after years of leaping into giant pants or creating haikus on a typewriter; you’ve got Blowhole, the whale who leaps out of the water and makes a Gump-ian trek across America only to leap into the ocean on the other side. The list goes on and on. It’s an absurdist take on the costumed hero genres that exposed the inherent goofiness in someone donning tights to fight crime in the first place, while also finding room to be downright silly otherwise. Almost every bit the writers come up with is inspired, and there isn’t a dull episode in the bunch. Some of my favorite episodes in the bunch were Leonardo Da Vinci And His Fightin’ Genius Time Commandos!, Evil Sits Down for a Moment and Grandpa Wore Tights but you can’t really go wrong with any of the episodes on here. They’re all a monument to ridiculous absurdist humor as well as slapstick and referential humor. There’s a little something for most of the Sewer Chewers in here, I’d be willing to wager.
I can imagine there being a little burnout if one watches all of the episodes in one quick burst, as the ridiculousness might become a little too much as the series progresses (this season feels infinitely stranger than the last, too, with a lot more ridiculous touches like the aforementioned sprinting whale and pig-leg). And there’s a certain generic quality to the episodes too, as they’ll always end with the Tick giving a monologue that never quite makes sense, trying to give purpose or a moral to the adventure they had just undergone. Despite that, it’s a credit to the series creator Ben Edlund and his team of writers that the show never feels stale or repetitive, and they constantly manage to find new situations to put their heroes in (stretching the formula into doing an episode-long Cops parody, sending them into space with an obvious attempt at Douglas Adams lite humor, putting Tick on a therapy couch for the majority of one episode) so as to keep the viewer on their toes. The animation isn’t the most fluid or gorgeous you could hope for, but it stays true to Edlund’s original vision of the characters, and the designs are pretty funny visual jokes in and of themselves. All in all, I’ve got to say that I loved revisiting this series on this set, and found many of the episodes to be even better than what I had remembered them as. As a kid, this series was a nice starting point for developing my off-the-beaten-path sense of humor, and now as an ‘adult’, I can see what they were trying for much more clearly and get the references and in-jokes with ease. A great series worth checking out either again or for the very first time.
The cover art is pretty fantastic for this set, as series creator Ben Edlund did the cover art and his artwork surpasses the show’s animation in terms of detail and the rogues gallery on display in the background is an excellent encapsulation of the absurdity of the villainy on display through the second season. However, the video quality isn’t particularly good (as tends to be the case with animated series shot for television), although it’s not bad to the point of being detrimental to the viewing experience. Unfortunately, the only extra included with the disc isn’t even on the disc, and it’s a little 4×6 lithograph of the Tick that comes along with the package. Even worse, much like the first season, this set is missing the episode Alone Together, thus making for another frustratingly incomplete package. It doesn’t seem like the Mouse House really gives a shit about these DVD releases, and one hopes they can it together in time to include both The Tick vs. The Mole Men and Alone Together on the final season’s box set. Recommended, but there’s a paucity of material here and the distinct feeling nobody in the marketing department of Disney seems to care about this series is becoming apparent.
7.5 out of 10 (point deducted for a missing episode, otherwise it’s gold Jerry, gold!)