RETROSPECULATIVE TV: The Tick: “The Tick Vs. Justice” (Episode 8, or possibly 7)

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Ok: bored now. Officially bored now.

PLAY BY PLAY

Batmanuel gets in a minor fenderbender in a parking garage. The other car is being driven by a super villain named “Destroyo,” and the impact pops his trunk revealing nerve gas, an atomic bomb, and “Some really strong rope.” He’s immediately arrested.

In the ensuing court case, Batmanuel argues that he shouldn’t be considered at fault in the accident as he’s pretty sure he had right of way, and he’s already in dutch with his insurance company. This is useless, of course. Destroyo manages to argue that since there was no warrant, the stuff in his trunk should be removed from evidence. Acting as his own defence, the super villain manages to more or less discredit everyone’s testimony against him. The Tick gets arrested for contempt of court. Arthur realizes they need to take a different tactic on this, and decides to track down Destroyo’s old mentor…

Captain Liberty, meanwhile, is assigned the job of guarding Destroyo in yet another “Silence of the Lambs” riff. Gee, those are never tedious, right? She spills out her inadequacies and insecurities and inanities until he just can’t stand it anymore.

On the trial the next day, Arthur calls Destroyo’s old mentor - a ballet teacher - to the stand. He explains that Destroyo’s two great loves as a child were dance and fried pastries. We get a brief flashback of a 10 year old boy in a leotard while audience chant “Dance, fat boy, dance!” Destroy snaps on the stand and (apparently) starts screaming about what his plan was, what he’s gonna’ do in the future, and so on, ensuring he goes to the pokey for a long time.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

Man, there’s just something bout this show, y’know? I mean, everything in this *sounds* great, the performances are all good, the cast is likeable and talented, Destroyo is well cast and acted, but apart from “Dance, fat boy, dance!” there’s not a single laugh to be had here. And this is largely true of most of the episodes. Ok, granted, yes, Destroyo attempting to talk a guard into killing himself, only to be thwarted by Cap showing up and saying “Can’t I even take a pee-break without you talking someone into suicide?” is *nearly* funny, and I think there *may* be a gag buried inside her being so insecure as to be immune to his psychological attacks, but if there is the nugget of humor in there, it’s never allowed to grow. Bottom line: The Tick isn’t funny as a series.

Which just kills me because the cartoon and the comics are a scream. Why is this the one un-funny iteration of the franchise? Directing? Writing? Budget? Combination of the three? I’m leaning towards the latter, to be honest. Edlund once said rather famously that there were no problems with the show that couldn’t’ have been solved with about $35,000 more per episode, but I’m not seeing that here. The scenes are increasingly flat, shot static, the stories aren’t all that compelling, and there‘s no action. As it‘s a sitcom about superheroes, that‘s conceptually allowable, but in actual execution I think the “Let‘s sit around and talk about mundane life‘ stuff really only works if we actually *see* some superheroics now and again. They really haven‘t even *tried* that since “Couples“ which, you‘ll recall, was the third episode of the series. This one is the penultimate one.

I’ve hit on this before, but I think it really bears repeating: The Tick comics are about The Tick. The Tick Cartoon was about The Tick. This show isn’t. This show is about Arthur. The Tick is incidental to most of the stories, and frankly sort of annoying. Several of the episodes - this is the third one - basically just attempt to find a way to get him out of the story as quickly as possible so they can concentrate on Arthur’s angst. It just ain’t funny. And I should mention that Arthur - in all his earlier variations - is pretty darn funny, but pretty much only when he’s got Tick to play off of. Here, he’s got nothing. And so he’s got little or no comedy potential.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Actually, probably yeah. We’re pretty consistently upset at the legal system, and this ep slams it pretty hard, so, yeah.

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