The Tick Pilot review: An unexpectedly dark comedy

Credit: Amazon Studios
Credit: Amazon Studios /

Review of The Tick pilot for the new Amazon Original series streaming free on Prime Video

At the end of this week, Amazon released their new season of pilot episodes. This included the pilot for three comedy series, one of which is the reboot and third iteration of the tongue-in-cheek, absurdist superhero comedy The Tick. However, it’s clear from the first few minutes that this is The Tick like fans have never seen him before.

From the start, it’s clear that the real world that this show is grounded in is a far darker one than fans of the hero are familiar with. We’re first introduced to Arthur (Griffin Newman) who is the apparent protagonist of the series—or at least the pilot. Rather than being a hapless accountant, though, he’s instead a deeply troubled and mentally ill man with obsessive behaviors.

And frankly, that character works. While it’s mildly problematic that they made this pilot episode more of an origin story for a character that’s not The Tick, it’s clear that Arthur’s story may be more important while the big blue hero’s adventures happen with, around, or on the periphery of Arthur’s life. In that, they succeeded in making you understand why Arthur is obsessive over The Terror and fascinated by The Tick.

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Moreover, the way that Peter Serafinowicz portrays the Tick character is unlike any way that we’ve ever seen him before. There’s still the comedy and the oafish quality about him that makes him lovable. However, there’s the similar quality that’s there with the character of Arthur in that there are real mental issues that will be discussed here. Moreover, the pilot succeeds in making you want to see more of The Tick character and see his origins and motivations.

However, that’s about all that can be said from the acting. These two roles were cast well, but the supporting actors seemed like they’d rather have been doing anything else other than trying to play these characters. Not only was there a lack of care in these minor characters, but also a feeling of not-taking-this-gig-seriously. When that comes through around actors like Newman, it’s glaring and impossible not to notice.

Back to the tone of the show in aspects other than character. Just the way that the series is shot delivers a much darker tone than you’d expect from a reboot of The Tick. There are drab and muted colors throughout the episode in addition to just dark imagery such as blood and death throughout. This is definitely not The Tick that we’re used to seeing.

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In establishing this new world for The Tick, though, one of the most troubling things about the episode is the fact that there is far too much packed into a 30-minute pilot. With the inclusion of an entire backstory in addition to the exposition of the current situation while also progressing the plot, the moving pieces get hard to keep track of. You’ll have to watch the pilot twice to make sure you understand where everything stands with everything and everyone that matters in the construct of the show.

Looking at all of this, though, the most redeeming quality of The Tick pilot is that it essentially serves its ultimate purpose in a format such as Amazon Prime Video. You’re left with wanting to see more from the show, to see storylines and characters progress and have things explained. As this is streaming on Amazon where they’ve yet to make the decision on uploading the full season, that’s the best thing that could happen with the show.

There are definite issues that may not be as prevalent once the showrunners aren’t attempting to overfill a 30-minute pilot episode. However, The Tick pilot is enjoyable at times and ultimately succeeds in its primary purpose.

Final Verdict: 6 out of 10