Saturday, January 9, 2016

What Might've Been: The Tick (2001)

In the mid-90's, Ben Edlund's superhero spoof, The Tick, had been successfully adapted into an animated series for Fox. The cartoon lasted three seasons, and even landed for a while on Comedy Central, but hasn't been seen since.

In 2001, The Tick returned, this time as a live-action sitcom, produced by Columbia-Tri-Star (now Sony Pictures Television), with filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black", "Wild, Wild West") attached, and starring Patrick Warburton (ex-Seinfeld) in the title role.

However, according to remarks attributed to Warburton in a later interview, Fox barely promoted the show because they didn't "own" it. Slotted opposite Survivor on CBS, among others, doomed The Tick, which lasted just 9 episodes. At last check, Hulu has the series on their roster. Meantime, scope out the open:

Due to copyright issues, American Maid & Die Fledermaus were replaced by Captain Liberty and Batmanuel, respectively. Despite the short run, The Tick, like the book, became a cult favorite.

After the series, Patrick Warburton landed a hit series with Rules of Engagement, and currently is doing commercials for National Car Rental. According to rumors printed in People in 2014, Sony was considering bringing back The Tick, but it doesn't appear likely.

No rating. Never saw the show.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

I absolutely love both the animated and live-action versions of The Tick, and was very upset when Fox cancelled it. In fact, the cancellation of this show was the tipping point for me and I vowed never to watch a show again while it was currently in production. From then on if I found a show I liked I'd wait for it to hit DVD and rent or buy it so I'd know how many episodes had been made and I wasn't constantly on edge about whether or not the show would be renewed. That made it easy for me to cancel cable around that same time. I was a bit upset that they couldn't bring over American Maid & Die Fledermaus directly from the cartoon without modification. It seemed a bit insipid since both shows aired on Fox, and I had heard that it was because Fox Kid's and Fox were technically separate companies. Corporate BS like that really pisses me off. Anyway, that decision didn't seem to affect the quality of the show at all.
When Columbia first released the live-action show on DVD, it was their best-selling DVD of the week (or maybe month, I can't quite remember) and that surprised them. I'm consistently amazed at how consistently amazed network and studio execs are when quality programs do well (they had the same reaction to Babylon 5 when it switched networks).
I think Patrick Warburton is the only actor who could ever have pulled off a live-action Tick, so I don't think a reboot is a good idea. The animated version got shabby DVD treatment here in the U.S., with only the first 2 seasons released here, and each of those had a single episode missing per season. I had to order the British releases of all 3 seasons just to get the third season and fill in the gaps of the other 2. So sad that one of the greatest comedies of all time (IMHO, of course) has had such a hard time both getting produced at all and then released to home video.

hobbyfan said...

The fact that Tick bombed in primetime suggests a revival should be once more in animated form, not live action.

Also, series creator Ben Edlund was last heard from as a writer-producer on Gotham last season, but didn't return this season.