The Tick: Season Two (animated)
Most of us grew up with super heroes. We would read comic books and watch television cartoons for far more time than Mom wanted. What draws people to these super humans is their ability to take us to a place of fantasy where fantastic powers and intellect can resolve any problem. Then there is The Tick (voiced by Townsend Coleman). With his battle cry of "Spoooooon!" cutting through the night evil doers in ‘The City’ may not exactly quake with fear but they often do have a sense of being perturbed. You see the Tick is not quite the best the forces of super heroes have to offer. He is, to be kind here, not the brightest bulb in town. It doesn’t take a ultra intelligent super villain to out wit him, a fifth grader with the a solid ‘C’ average could most likely do the job. The good thing is the villains he encounters are not in the league of such notable bad guys as ‘Lex Luthor’ or ‘Doctor Doom’. Helping The Tick in his quest for truth and justice is his faithful sidekick, Arthur (voiced by Rob Paulsen). He is a former accountant who gave up tax forms so he could slip into his moth outfit and gain the ability to fly. His battle cry is less likely to be fearsome but it does make some sense, "Not in the face! Not in the face!" Even though Arthur is supposed to be a moth most seem to think he is in a bunny rabbit disguise. Mostly this is due to the long antenna on his head and his wings being folded behind him. Arthur is often the one that figures out the sinister plot before them and finds a way to thwart it.
Don’t let the silly premise or animated format fool you, this is a great satire of the whole super hero and pop culture phenomena. It is a series that truly works on two levels; one for the kids the other for the parents. While the best most super hero cartoons can hope for is getting the parents to put up with watching it, this one is a show that parents will actually look forward to viewing. Kids will get into the foolish characters but the grown ups among us we can laugh at just how each episode pokes fun at just about everything imaginable. First of all the protagonist here is certifiably insane. Arthur is more his keeper than his sidekick. The Tick may be mad but his heart is in the right place. The series is an excellent example of ‘Reductio ad absurdum’, reduce to the absurd. So many television series require the audience to put together obtuse clues. With the Tick you can disengage the higher reasoning centers of your brain, kick back and just enjoy every crazy aspect of the show.
In the first episode of season two the Tick and Arthur encounter The Angry Red Herring (Kevin Schon). Dressed in a really bad fish costume with machine guns sticking out of his eyes he attempts to wreak havoc on the City. When he runs out of bullets the Tick and Arthur swoop in to save the day. They only trick that the Herring has is he perchance of coating himself with petroleum jelly to make himself slippery. Considering the level of intelligence of both heroes and villains here it should come as no surprise when the Tick tackles Herring, he slips out of the Tick’s grasp and smacks right into a brick wall. The Tick unmasks his foe to discover he is Milton Roe, international fish monger and jewel thief. The Tick issues one of his famous comments, ‘Slim doesn’t pay’ as a female version of Arthur looks on. She is Carmelita Vatos (voiced by Jennifer Hale) whose father creator both her costume and Arthur’s. All of this is being watched by a group of Swiss bad guys who are monitoring the proceedings with a telescope that comes out of a giant Swiss Army Knife. They are interrupted by an ally of the Tick, Die Fledermaus (Cam Clarke), a sort of low rent version of Batman. When the Swiss Army Knives sharper components are take out he excuses himself and flees. Also in this episode are two other superheroes; Sewer Urchin (voiced by Jess Harnell) and American Maid (voiced by Kay Lenz). Urchin is an unease cross between Aquaman and Rainman whose ability, Super stench, tends to keep most at bay. American Maid can throw her high heels with deadly accuracy.
The super villains in this surreal world are just as strange as the heroes. The Deadly Bulb (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) has a light bulb for a head and a self aware pig on his left leg. Then there is El Seed (voice by Ed Gilbert) who can make plants intelligent and wears a green matador uniform. In one very bizarre episode a villain dressed as Santa Clause makes electronic replicas of himself to take over the City. In another episode we meet Betty: Queen of the Ants (voiced by Cathy Moriarty) who is basically a regular ant that talks and raises and army of ants to defeat the Tick. In most cases their plans for world domination leave a lot to be desired. We are not talking a battle of the wits here but they are fun to watch.
There is a reason this cartoon series is such a cult classic, it is a lot of fun to watch. There is nothing that a parent has to be afraid of the kids seeing, the level of violence is comical and light. For the adults we can watch time after time and still find new little bits of satire and cultural references. Now, about a year after the DVD release of the first season Disney / Buena Vista has released the entire second season. The full screen video is well done. The animation is smooth, without flaws. The Dolby stereo soundtrack is better than you would get on television. If you are already a fan this is a must have. If you are new to the wacky world of the Tick get this and enjoy.