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February 18, 2010

Princess Powerful Attacks: The Tick (Live Action TV series) Part 1

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In 1986, Ben Edlund created a newsletter mascot for the New England Comics in Boston, Massachusetts.  The mascot, deemed The Tick, was expanded into stories in the New England Comics Newsletter.  In 1988, the mascot became popular enough for the company to finance The Tick comic book series.

Later, Edlund was approached by Kiscom to develop merchandise for his comic book series.  In 1994, The Tick debuted as an animated series on FOX which escalated the comic book in popularity.  It lasted three seasons and had a 1997 tie-in book called The Tick: Mighty Blue Justice!.

In 2001, Columbia TriStar Television produced a live action television series called The Tick that was based off of the comic book series.  The series was shown on FOX, and became popular after its DVD release.  The Tick starred David Burke, Nestor Carbonell, Liz Vasset, and Patrick Warburton as The Tick.

“Pilot”, episode 1×01
Written by: Ben Edlund
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Original Air Date: November 8, 2001
Special Guest: Christopher Lloyd as Mr. Fishladder

In “Pilot”, Arthur quits his job as an accountant and answers his calling to become a superhero.  When he is introduced to superheroes in person, it breaks his childhood fantasy of crime fighting.  They appeared selfish and demanding despite their role as protectors of The City.  Arthur walks off with Tick following him in hopes to amend the situation. Later at the Lonely Panda restaurant, Captain Liberty and Batmanuel apologize to everyone for their childish behavior. The episode ends with Arthur agreeing to Tick’s offer of becoming a crime fighting duo.

Side Notes: The “Pilot” was an interesting episode.  Arthur was used as a way for the audience to be introduced to the main characters and the story.  His appearance in “Pilot” was of a stable man in the eye of chaos.

Colors were used to contrast the real world and the superhero world.  The real world was decorated in bland neutral colors, while the superhero world was painted in exuberant colors.  It gave each scene the appearance of surrealism interwoven with reality.

I loved how the fights were shown off screen.  It gave the episode a very cartoon-like atmosphere, as the audience never saw superheroes fight unless they passed a camera.  In “Pilot”, President Henry Ford’s face was never shown and his limited lines also gave a cartoon-like atmosphere as well.

“The Terror”, episode 1×02
Written by: Ben Edlund
Directed by: Boris Damast
Original Air Date: Unaired
Special Guest: Armin Shimerman as the Terror

In the beginning of “The Terror”, the story jumps a year ahead where Arthur surprises Tick with a one year anniversary in their crime fighting partnership.  The main cast enjoys cake and drinks as they look back on the events a day after “Pilot”.

The scene flashbacks to Arthur waking up bruised and slightly burned.  He replayed the events from the night before and lumps it as a fluke.  After seeing Tick on his couch, he realizes that he was vastly mistaken.  Tick and Arthur go to the Lonely Panda restaurant to meet up with Captain Liberty and Batmanuel.  Tick voices the need for a Nemesis and in a spur jealousy, Captain Liberty directs him to a 105 year old villain named Terror.

Side Notes: “The Terror” was an amusing episode.  Terror was represented as a senile elderly villain.  I loved how he became vengeful against Tick and Arthur due to a prank phone call.  The visual elderly man creating chaos in The City, despite his limitations, humored me.

“Arthur, Interrupted”, episode 1×03
Written by: Richard Liebmann-Smith
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Original Air Date: January 24, 2002
Special Guest: David Foley as Francis

Arthur decides to come out of the superhero closet to his family and finds himself in a mental facility.  Tick is distraught over his disappearance and becomes obsessed with finding him.  Arthur calls Captain Liberty and Batmanuel on the phone in hopes that they would save him from his captors.  In the end, Arthur and his family come to an acceptance over his new lifestyle.

Side Notes: “Arthur, Interrupted” was the creepiest episode of the season.  David Foley wore an arm cast from an injury previously acquired in his role as Francis.  It gave his character a more in depth portrayal on The Tick, and raised a few questions.  For once, David Foley’s performance as an insane character struck an unsettling feeling within me.

Tick developed a way to communicate with toilets in “Arthur, Interrupted”.  Patrick Warbuton’s performance of interacting with a bubbling toilet was hilarious and cute.  I could see myself being entertained with watching a three hour movie of Patrick having a long discussion with a toilet that answered back in bubbling gurgles.

Arthur was talked into discussing his new lifestyle with his family.  If he hadn’t, villains would use the information regarding his lifestyle against him, or his family would find out from reading a newspaper.  It felt like an obvious comparison with coming out of the closet.

“The License”, episode 1×04
Written by: Larry Charles
Directed by: Craig Zisk
Original Air Date: December 6, 2001
Special Guest: Kari Coleman as the Woman

After a fight against evil, Tick and his friends are stopped by the police for verification of their hero license.  On the spot, everyone finds out that Tick doesn’t have one.  He applies for a license only to find out that there is no record of his existence.  Arthur goes on a quest to find Tick’s identity, and his path leads to an unknown woman.  She’s able to claim Tick as her long lost husband along with definitive proof.  Now with Tick leading a family life, Arthur makes an attempt at retiring from crime fighting.  Meanwhile, Captain Liberty tries to hide her identity as she dates a man without superpowers.

Side Notes: The focus in “The License” was on Tick and Arthur.  Captain Liberty had a side story, while Batmanuel had a reoccurring gag throughout the episode.

I wasn’t as entertained with “The License” as I was with other episodes.  However, I enjoyed the resolution to each character’s problems.

There were notable character and design changes.  The Walt Disney Company inherited the rights to American Maid and Die Fledermaus who appeared in the comic book and animated series.  Their characters were replaced by similar incarnations as Captain Liberty and Batmanuel.  The masks of Tick and Arthur were omitted due to Patrick Warburton’s ability to act with his eyes.  However, Arthur was given see-through goggles to wear on his head.

Tick’s costume was made of latex and his antennas were remote controlled.  Patrick wore different types of shoes in each scene to illustrate his character’s vast height amongst others.  After each episode, a new Tick suit was created in order to improve on its quality and practicality.  The costumes of Captain Liberty and Batmanuel were changed after the pilot.  Captain Liberty’s costume top was perfected, her boots were shortened, and she was given red stockings. Batmanuel’s costume became more striking by giving him a deep gold top with trimming that matched his flashy tights.

To be continued in The Tick (Live Action TV series) Part 2!

Princess Powerful



  1. Aron White

    YESSSS! I LOVED this show! I watched it every week until its sad demise.
    I was on my way to work when I heard on the radio that the show had been cancelled. When I got to work, instead of working, I was sending emails out to anybody I thought would be able to get this show to DVD. (Yeah, yeah. I’m a geek.)The only one who wrote me back was New England Comics. They said they had no control in the matter. I’m so glad it made it to DVD, though!

    These four episodes cracked me up! From his fearless defending of the Bus Station, to thinking Grover was his “Dad”, they were great! I even have my very own I.P. Daley ID card like you have pictured! (came with an action figure)

    Okay, I’m now done with my nerdgasm. Thanks for writing this article and getting the word out to folks about this great little gem of a DVD!

  2. Kristin

    Patrick Warburton is awesome in everything.
    I remember this show, and I’m certain I watched it, but I remember almost nothing about it.
    By the way: why is David Foley’s character disturbing? Do you just mean that he did a good job?

  3. Josh

    Great Synopsis! Looking forward to part 2. SPOON!

  4. I LOVED this cartoon as a kid. Never watched the live-action show nor read the comics though.

  5. billy

    I don’t think there is an amount of money that could get me to be the “live-action” Tick.

  6. Yeah, Patrick is always good…sorta the new Bruce Campbell or something. And the comic, especially the first few issues, was just as entertaining as anything could be.

  7. […] here: Princess Powerful Attacks: The Tick (Live Action TV series) Part 1 Share and […]

  8. Spoooooooon!!! This show was one of my guilty pleasures

  9. Heh. My fav line out of these 1st four is “But I don’t want to poke the machine!”

    XD I love this show. It usually pops up in my DVD player before or after ‘Greg the Bunny’ every couple of weeks.

    Infinite, “Don’t be afraid.. Come out to play. I’m out there, I’m WAAYY out there.”

    I might have the quotes mixed up, but you get the idea 😉

  10. […] my last review, I discussed the origins of The Tick before focusing on the self-titled 2001 TV […]

  11. John Doe

    Late to the this thread, but the words “his antenna were remote controlled” came up in a related google search I was doing and I’m just that kind of busy body that feels the need to correct everybody about everything: The suit’s antennae were 100% CGI…I even remember all the talk about the expense it added at the time, when CGI wasn’t quite so old-hat and cheap..

  12. Kristin

    Can you show some links to back that up? Because IMDB.com (Internet Movie Database), Wikipedia, various websites I Googled (which included interviews with Ben Edlund) and the DVD commentary for the series, all say it was done with remote robotics. Mark Setrakian was the puppeteer.

  13. +1 Princess Powerful

    +1 Kristin

  14. KGP

    Loved the show and loved the cartoon. Spoooooon!

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