You can’t keep a good bug down. Amazon’s goofy superhero comedy The Tick has returned for a second season that, in some respects, improves over the first.
Evil villain The Terror may be gone, but that doesn’t mean The City (that’s the name of the place, “The City”) is safe. Arthur (Griffin Newman) and The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) must remain ever vigilant to protect their home from the likes of rampaging monster Lobstercules or mysterious crime kingpin The Duke. That’s a lot of responsibility placed on their shoulders, especially after Superian (Brendan Hines) has a very public nervous breakdown and flies off to the moon for much of the season to sulk and do some soul-searching.
In Season 2, Arthur and The Tick become officially registered and certified superheroes by joining government crime-fighting organization A.E.G.I.S., led by the gruff and bow-legged Agent Commander Tyrannosaurus Rathbone (Marc Kudisch). This gives them legitimacy and access to all sorts of perks, including fancy tech invented by Doctor Agent Hobbes (John Hodgman). They make friends with new heroes such as Sage the Supernumerary (Clé Bennett), Bronze Star (Adam Henry Garcia), and Flexon (Steven Ogg). Most importantly, they apply to become members of the newly reconstituted Flag Five, which is a dream Arthur has had since childhood – even after witnessing his father killed by the original Flag Five’s ship crashing on top of him.
Arthur’s sister Dot (Valorie Curry) gets a lot more to do this season as she joins Overkill (Scott Speiser) in a life of vigilantism. Dangerboat (Alan Tudyk) struggles with an identity crisis when his backstory is revealed. Villainess Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez) surprises everyone by seemingly going straight and rebranding herself as new hero Joan of Arc (because of the electrical arcs), but Arthur suspects that she’s up to something devious. Her metallic costume is a hoot.
Jokes abound, mostly verbal in nature. One of my favorites comes when Superian thinks about Arthur’s advice to center himself: “He’s right, I need to be more self-centered.” The visual gag of a captured Lobstercules with blue rubber bands on her claws also killed me.
The first season of Amazon’s iteration of The Tick was pretty funny but suffered from tonal issues as it juggled goofy kid-friendly humor with adult profanity and violence. The first few episodes in particular really struggled to find the right balance. The show got better as the season went on, however. Season 2 expands on that and, for the most part, settles into a good rhythm. It still has tonal swings, but either they’re better handled or I’ve just come to accept them.
The season is filled with a lot of good jokes, but aims more for being clever than gut-bustingly hilarious. The pacing sometimes feels stilted as characters stand around to deliver one-liners, and the show’s low budget precludes much ambition from the superheroing scenes. Flexon mostly uses his stretchy abilities off-screen, and I honestly have no idea what Bronze Star’s power is supposed to be. (He looks like one of those body-painted street performers who mimic being robots.) The show often plays these limitations for laughs, but I think the writing could be a little sharper at times and the pacing a little snappier.
The Tick may not be the best comedy on television at the moment, but it’s very enjoyable. As we endure the seemingly never-ending glut of superhero content on TV and in theaters, it’s nice to have a show that pokes some fun at the genre.
The second season premiered April 5th on Amazon Prime Video. At just ten episodes, it’s slightly shorter than the first season. On the other hand, it has now run more than twice as long as the short-lived Patrick Warburton version that aired on Fox back in 2001.