RETROSPECULATIVE TV: The Tick: “Arthur Needs Space” (Episode 5, or possibly 5)

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Arthur is at the Happy Panda or someplace equally inconsequential when he sees Mindy Waxman, a girl he loved in high school who didn’t know he was alive. The only time she talked to him in 4 years was when she hit him with her car. “I threw up, I was so happy.” She comes over and talks to him, and it turns out she’s got a thing for superheroes, so she’s immediately hot for Arthurs’ chubby bod. Arthur is elated and terrified (He’s such a nebbish!) and quickly realizes she’s only into him for the costume, not because of who he is. This gives him a moral quandary, but while eating a hot dog he decides to go for it anyway.

The Tick attempts to tag along, but Arthur manages to ditch him, only to have him break in - repeatedly - when Arthur’s about to seal the deal. Arthur don’t get none. The Tick feels he’s being cheated on.

Meanwhile, in the more entertaining subplot, Captain Liberty took some nude pictures when she was dating an European guy some years back, and he sold ‘em to a magazine. She and Batmanuel attempt to stop the shipment of magazines, but he ended up drinking too much mountain dew and was whizzing in the bushes when the truck came by. (This sounds funnier than it is. In fact, it sounds so much funnier than it is that I can’t really understand how it is that they managed to shoot it without it being at all funy, but they did.) Cap gets called on the carpet for court martial (Since she’s officially a part of the government), but Batmanuel makes an impassioned speech about how she represents all that is good and pure and beautiful about America, and hence it’s actually an affront to good taste that she isn’t walking around naked all the time. (Hear hear!) Surprisingly, this gets her off the hook.

Meanwhile, Batmanuel and Cap attempt to explain sex to Tick.

The end.

OBSERVATIONS

Tired. So very tired. No, seriously: It was hard for me to keep awake through this one. Apart from one scene when Mindy attempts to make out with Arthur, accidentally triggering his wings and sending him flying across the room, there’s not a laugh in this thing. A couple smiles, but no laughs.

I know it’s trendy for pseudo intellectuals to claim this was a brilliant show that never got a shot, but the fact is, here we are 5 eps in (FOX showed this one in its intended order), and the show just isn’t really very funny. There’s not a lot of conflict, what it is is forced, and not very interesting. The characters all have a lot of potential, but mostly they just sit around doing gags that would seem bland on Seinfeld or Friends (The reigning kings of pointless sitcom humor at the time), so obviously they’re pretty weak tea on their own. Direction is flat and pointless, and, again, it’s just not very funny.

A HUGE part of the problem in this episode, and to a lesser extent, last week’s episode, is that The Tick himself is largely incidental to the plot. The Tick is just an annoyance here, move around at random when they remember he’s in the show. (“Oh, yeah, it’s about the Tick, I guess we gotta’ throw him in somewhere”). This ep was all about Arthur, and seriously his self-doubt about his lifestyle choice has been a major part of 3 out of 5 episodes thus far. It’s overplayed.

And when all is said and done: It’s boring. It’s just boring.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Nope. Well, maybe people who were actually *in* the episode might enjoy it, but then again maybe not. I doubt Nestor Carbonel is bragging about this one on his resume. (“Say, weren’t you Bat Manuel?” “No! No. I did a three-episode arc on Psych, and I was on Lost for several years, but, no, ‘The Tick?’ I never heard of it.” “I didn’t mention ‘The Tick…’” “I have to go now.”)

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