The Tick (2001 TV series): Wikis


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The Tick
Tick poster.jpg
The Tick launch poster
Format Sitcom
Created by Ben Edlund
Starring Patrick Warburton
David Burke
Nestor Carbonell
Liz Vassey
Country of origin United States United States
No. of episodes 9
Executive producer(s) Ben Edlund
Barry Josephson
Barry Sonnenfeld
Larry Charles
David Sacks
Running time 30 minutes (including commercials)
Production company(s) Sony Pictures Television
Original channel FOX
Original run November 8, 2001 – January 31, 2002

The Tick was an American sitcom based on the comic book character of the same name. It aired on FOX in late 2001 and was produced by Columbia-TriStar Television. With a pilot airing on November 8, the series only lasted eight episodes on broadcast television. Due to its cult popularity and critical praise, however, the series was released to DVD in 2003.



In the early 1990s, FOX picked up an animated series based on The Tick which had a successful run from 1994 to '96. This gained the character mainstream popularity and a cult following throughout the decade. In May 2000, Tick creator Ben Edlund completed the pilot episode for a Tick live-action series in hopes that FOX would include it in their fall schedule. The project involved director Barry Sonnenfeld, production designer Bo Welch, and the four main Tick animated series writers, Randolph Heard, Richard Liebmann-Smith, Chris McCulloch, and Edlund himself. Due to budget constraints, additional episodes were shot with several months gap in between filming. FOX had initially wanted to premiere the series in early 2001 as a mid-season replacement but opted for their prime time schedule both due to its ratings success and the network's fear of a strike that could have delayed the fall season.

Over a year and a half after its development, The Tick was finally picked up by the network for an 8:30 p.m. prime time slot on Thursday nights. Cast, crew, and journalists expressed early concern over the high stakes slot, with FOX's Sunday night comedy schedule looking more favorable. Nevertheless, Fox Television Entertainment Group president Sandy Grushow assured that promoting The Tick during the World Series would work and that "Baseball is a terrific promotional platform for a show like The Tick." Grushow also noted that if the series were to perform well, the network would have until December 2001 to order new episodes, though they would not likely be ready until late spring or summer at the earliest.[1]

Executive producer Larry Charles sought to create a character camaraderie similar to that of Seinfeld. He discussed this approach at a July 2000 press conference:

If the show is perceived as merely a superhero show or merely a superhero parody show, I don't think it's going to work on a weekly basis. What's great about the comic book and what was great about the cartoon also has to be great about the live-action show, which is the characters and the interaction of the characters and creating a world that you believe is real. It's a world in which the characters being superheroes is almost a secondary consideration, so that the characters are more important than their costumes.

The 2001 sitcom was the first and only attempt at a live action incarnation of The Tick and debuted five years after a successful, 3-season animated series. While working on the pilot episode, Ben Edlund described the series as "closer in tone to the comic book, favoring character over action, painting a superheroic portrait of genuine human lameness."[2] It features a parody style similar to the animated series and the bulky Patrick Warburton in the title role. Guest appearances include Ron Perlman, Christopher Lloyd, and Dave Foley.[3] However, obvious changes had to be made for such a diverse format.

The Walt Disney Company inherited FOX's previous children's programming lineup and therefore owned the rights to many of the show's names and trademarks. For this reason, American Maid and Die Fledermaus, two major characters in the animated series, were unable to be written into the new show; they were replaced by Captain Liberty and Batmanuel. Disregarding the back stories given in both the comic books and animated series, the sitcom has The Tick being tricked into moving to (and protecting) The City after irritating employees of a remote bus station he had sworn to protect. It is also more adult oriented, including more sexual innuendo and adult situations. As such, the series virtually eliminated action scenes and significantly reduced emphasis on extravagant supervillains, both of which were often featured in the animated series. Regarding the mature tone, Edlund expressed his desire for less vulgarity, particularly in a moment of the pilot where The Tick said "Java devil.You are now my bitch." However, Edlund lacked the authority to remove such phrasing.[4]

The Tick's costume, designed by Colleen Atwood, bore a notable difference from previous incarnations in that the Tick's face would be entirely exposed. This eliminated the large pupil-less eyes seen in previous incarnations and allowed Warburton to utilize his expressive face; according to Edlund, "There was no way to cover his eyes and get the same range, intensity, and specificity of emotion. With face unfettered, Patrick has created a three-dimensional, hilarious, totally convincing Tick." The antennae of Tick's mask were also remote-controlled by puppeteer Mark Setrakian for comedic effect. The production design is by Emmy-nominated, Michael Wylie.

While FOX has been criticized for its lack of investment in the series, N2Toys produced a line of action figures based on it. The live action Tick ultimately failed to recapture the success of its animated predecessor; however, its popularity was strong enough that the series would be released on DVD in 2003. The series was also responsible for Christopher McCulloch, who wrote for the Tick comic book, animated series, and sitcom, meeting Patrick Warburton during filming. Shortly after, he would cast Warburton as the voice of Brock Samson for his Adult Swim series, The Venture Bros. Tick creator Ben Edlund would also write for The Venture Bros. on occasion.



Concerns regarding the show's time slot were manifested in early 2002 when The Tick was canceled after merely eight of the nine episodes had aired. According to Patrick Warburton, The Tick performed poorly because FOX did not own the series as they did The Bernie Mac Show and 24. Therefore the network rarely promoted it in the face of popular shows like Survivor: Africa and NBC's Must See TV lineup. Warburton added that despite fan and critical praise, the high production costs further discouraged FOX from giving The Tick a chance.[5] The costs were increased by overtime pay due to a shortened filming schedule. This compromised a six or seven day shooting of each episode down to five days.[6] Warburton has repeatedly criticized FOX's mismanagement of the series, reiterating that the network "apparently didn’t have a clue."[7]


Despite its short television life, The Tick has been heavily praised by fans and critics and fondly reminisced by cast and crew. Kathie Huddleston of named The Tick a Sci Fi "A Pick" and shared both praise and concern over its longevity:

"The Tick is extremely well written and produced, with enough special effects to make one a believer in this odd world of superheroes. But can a series that's daring, ingenious, silly and fearless actually make it on network television? We can only hope."[8]

Entertainment Weeklys Dalton Ross gave the series' DVD release an A- rating and commented, "It was too smart. Too funny. Too weird. So, of course, it failed."[9] While not overtly positive, Noel Murray of The A.V. Club commented, "For all The Ticks failings, it was better than most of its broadcast competition two years ago, and it was improving right up until it was yanked off the air."[10]

Upon its DVD release, the series also received praise from DVD Talk,[11] Digitally Obsessed,[12] and Genre Online.[13] Marginally positive reviews came from TV DVD Reviews[14] and DVD Verdict.

In 2002, the series' Victoria J. Auth was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence in Costume Design for Television - Period/Fantasy. The award went to Jane Anderson for American Dreams.

Reflecting on his time on the series, Patrick Warburton commented, "That, to me, was an honor: To get into the blue suit and get to be The Tick. I loved that. I just wish that our beloved Fox network had actually given us a shot instead of killing off the show as they did." In a 2009 interview, Warburton also noted that he still owns one of the Tick suits as a souvenir, and he expressed interest in playing the character in a feature film.[15]

In a 2009 interview, when asked what project he's worked on that didn't get its deserved appreciation, Nestor Carbonell named The Tick:

"I think it’s gotten the love now, on DVD, from people who’ve discovered it that way, but it obviously didn’t last long. . . Lost is certainly a show that I love, and it’s definitely gotten a lot of love, but I think The Tick is one that really could’ve been nurtured a little bit more. I always love it when people bring it up. It was really a special show."[16]

Director Barry Sonnenfeld called the Tick pilot "the best thing I've ever directed." He has also expressed interest in making a feature film based on the character.[17] Both Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson have stated that if DVD sales of The Tick were sufficient, they would push for such a project.[18]

Main cast

See also: List of minor characters in The Tick
Actor Role
Patrick Warburton The Tick
David Burke Arthur
Nestor Carbonell Batmanuel
Liz Vassey Captain Liberty

List of episodes

The episodes are listed here in their intended order (according to the DVD release). When they were originally aired on FOX in the United States, they were aired out of order.

  • 1 "Pilot" - Originally aired November 8, 2001. The Tick arrives in The City just in time to meet and save Arthur, an accountant who quit his job to become a super hero, but has little self confidence or belief in himself. In their first ever team up, the Tick and Arthur must thwart the Red Scare, a robot made in the 1970s by the Soviet Union, programed to destroy the US President. Unaware of the present year however, the Red Scare seeks to destroy former President Carter, and due to Captain Liberty being "indisposed", its up to the Tick and Arthur to stop it.
  • 2 "The Terror" - Originally aired January 31, 2002 but included on the DVD. At Arther and the Tick's anniversary for having become a team, the group recalls how Captain Liberty, angry at the tick for stealing her thunder by saving the president, stuck the 105 year-old villain the Terror on him and Arthur.
  • 3 "Arthur, Interrupted" - Originally aired January 24, 2002. At the urging of his friends, Arthur finally "comes out" as a superhero to his family, and reveals his life choice to them. They however see him as crazy and immediately attempts an intervention. When he tries to leave, Arthur is forcibly taken to an insane asylum. Meanwhile the Tick grows concerned over Arthur's disappearance, and begins to fear the worst.
  • 4 "The License" - Originally aired December 6, 2001. The Tick has no Superhero License, and can't obtain one because he has no clue who he is.
  • 5 "Arthur Needs Space" - Originally aired December 13, 2001. Arthur's love life is cramped by the hovering Tick, who's baffled as always.
  • 6 "Couples" - Originally aired December 5, 2001. The Tick and Arthur have a good time when they start hanging out with Fiery Blaze and his sidekick Friendly Fire, but things turn when Arthur finds out that Fiery Blaze abuses Friendly Fire, and he persuades Friendly Fire to take a stand against it. Meanwhile Fiery Blaze convinces the Tick that Arthur is the side kick and should do whatever the Tick wants. The Tick's new behavior quickly causes the Tick and Arthur to split up, their feuding is only made worse by Friendly Fire moving in with them, after he leaves Fiery Blaze. Meanwhile Batmanuel and Captain Liberty try to cope with their own loneliness, which leads to Captain Liberty getting a dog.
  • 7 "The Funeral" - Originally aired November 15, 2001. Everyone is thrilled the famous Immortal is coming to town, except he dies in nooner with Captain Liberty. The group is faced with the challenge of covering up the whole thing, which requires Batmanuel to impersonate him, while the Tick and Arther try to put the body back in his hotel to make it look like he died in his sleep. Also the Tick grapples with the realization that everyone dies(rather then just already dead people as he believed).
  • 8 "The Tick vs. Justice" - Originally aired January 17, 2002. The villain Destryo is on trial, but the Tick is confounded by the mysterious ways of courtroom justice. Due to his disrespect and behavior, the Tick is sentenced to a night in prison for contempt, leaving Batmanuel and Arthur to fend for themselves against anything that Destryo might send to kill them, while they look for evidence against him. Meanwhile Captain Liberty is left to guard Destryo in prison by herself.
  • 9 "The Big Leagues" - Originally aired December21, 2001. The Tick and Arthur are initiated into the League of Superheroes, but must leave their friends behind. While they at first enjoy the honor of being leagues men, they find the League isn't all it's cracked up to be. Meanwhile Captain Liberty and Batmanuel file a lawsuit against the League for discrimination.

DVD release

The complete series was released on DVD through Sony Pictures Entertainment in September 30, 2003. Tick creator Ben Edlund states on one of the DVD commentary tracks that he hoped the sales of the DVD might spur development of either a revived series or a movie, similar to the fates of other cult TV series such as Firefly (for which he was a writer and producer).


As of February 2009, the show can be downloaded on iTunes, or streamed for free in the US on Joost, Hulu, and Crackle.


  1. ^ Owen, Rob 'The Tick': Tick, tick, tick ... Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 5, 2001). Retrieved on 5-16-09.
  2. ^ Ben Edlund comments from (2000). Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  3. ^ Naugle, Patrick The Tick: The Entire Series (October 31, 2003). Retrieved on 1-05-08.
  4. ^ Thus Spake Tick Creator Ben Edlund (November 27, 2001). Retrieved on 5-16-09.
  5. ^ Thomas, David The Hardest Working Vocal Cords in Show Business: An Interview with Patrick Warburton (2004). Retrieved on 5-13-09
  6. ^ Leung, Kevin How The Tick Was Offed (July 8, 2002). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  7. ^ Bell, Josh Patrick Warburton interview Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  8. ^ Huddleston, Kathie The Tick (2001). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  9. ^ Ross, Dalton The Tick: The Entire Series! Entertainment Weekly (September 30, 2003). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  10. ^ Murray, Noel The Tick: The Entire Series (DVD) (November 4, 2003). Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  11. ^ Miller III, Randy The Tick: The Entire Series! (September 30, 2003). Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  12. ^ Cunningham, Joel DOc DVD Review: The Tick: The Entire Series (2001-2002) (November 12, 2003). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  13. ^ Rivera, Mark A. The Tick: The Entire Series on DVD Review (2003). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  14. ^ Boudreaux, Jonathan The Tick: The Entire Series DVD Review (2003). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  15. ^ Jones, Seth Warburton Looks Back on "The Tick" (January 29, 2009). Retrieved on 5-13-09.
  16. ^ Harris, Will A chat with Nestor Carbonell (February 6, 2009). Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  17. ^ Bell, Josh Patrick Warburton interview Retrieved on 5-15-09.
  18. ^ The Tick - The Entire Series (2001) (2003). Retrieved on 5-15-09.

External links


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