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review added: 10/17/03



The Tick: The Entire Series
2002 (2003) - Columbia TriStar

review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Tick: The Entire Series

Program Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D

Specs and Features
201 mins (9 episodes at approx. 22 mins each), NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, 2 single-sided, dual-layered discs (no layer switch), keep case packaging, audio commentary (with producers Barry Sonnenfeld and Ben Edlund), DVD-ROM weblink to an online video interview, animated program-themed menu screens with music, scene access (6 chapters per episode), languages: English (DD 2.0), Closed Captioned


In the mid 1990s, Fox Kids added a little show to their Saturday morning lineup, based on a 12-issue cult comic book series... The Tick, which chronicled the misadventures of a big, blue crime fighting... well, bug. The animated show was a huge success, but it was cancelled after only a few seasons. Why? Because everyone watching had already hit puberty, thus alienating the prime sponsors of the timeslot. Several years later, with a good run on Comedy Central and Barry Sonnefeld behind it, someone decided to green-light a live-action series based on the property.

Now... this should have been a gigantic hit, but apparently no one at Fox knew what to DO with the show. As a result, it got buried in the land of midseason replacements that time forgot, complete with almost no promotion and plenty of pre-emptions (along with another gem deserving of DVD release... Greg the Bunny). Patrick Warburton, made popular in guest appearances on Seinfeld, was simply born to play the title character, with his steely, dead-pan delivery and twitching antennae. David Burke was also shaping up to be very good as his side-kick, Arthur, when the series was canned after a mere 8 episodes. Ten years ago, The Tick never would have been seen again, but DVD has the uncanny ability to give cancelled series a new lease on life. So here on disc, at last, we have a steaming bowl of Blue Justice waiting to be savored like the finest chocolate bar.

Presented for the first time in anamorphic widescreen, it's clear that The Tick was always meant to be seen this way. The framing doesn't suffer the "center syndrome" that so many dual-AR shows have, where all the actors are bunched in the middle. While this is low budget, the extra breathing room does help in some of the action scenes, where we see more bodies flying around along with general extra fun. Unfortunately, the show's low budget nature does rear it's head when it comes to some of the set detail. The more you see, the more you can tell just how low the budget really was. Still these 9 episodes look very good, with clear detail, vibrant colors and generally good contrast. Overall it's a solid presentation, certainly better than anything you saw on broadcast TV.

On the audio side, The Tick also seems to fair better. The surrounds are more active than I remember them, from TV viewing, in this Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track. Most of the show is anchored solidly in the center channel, with the surrounds providing some strong extra punch to the score. This is a new show for all intents and purposes, so fidelity is never an issue. It's not going to blow you away, but this is plenty solid.

In terms of extras... well honestly, what extras? Unless you count the unaired episode The Terror, there's not much here. There are no TV spots, no featurettes... heck not even SUBTITLES on the episodes themselves. Thankfully, we do get audio commentary on a few of the episodes. The first is on the pilot with Barry Sonnenfeld (the producer and director of the series), while creator Ben Edlund talks on two more episodes. Sonnenfeld's commentary has some good information on shooting the pilot, but every single time he starts to say something interesting, he starts talking about how he wanted to make the show like Seinfeld. I kept wanting to scream "TALK ABOUT THE TICK!" Thankfully, Sonnenfeld only has a scant 22 minutes to wax nostalgic on his OTHER favorite show, and then it's on to the real man behind the bug: Ben Edlund. Edlund is very soft spoken, but he has a lot to say. He talks a lot about the character's motivations, and succeeds in fleshing out a lot of detail about the Tick's world - things that many of you will find new and interesting. Ben talks about where they would have taken the show, and spends a good chunk of the time trying to give us the meat he couldn't put on screen. Bottom line - Edlund's commentary is a good listen.

Also included on this disc a DVD-ROM link to additional streaming audio interviews with executive Barry Josephson and Patrick Warburton. Frankly, why this isn't on the DVD is still a mystery to me, and it is very irritating. The only thing I can think of is that Warburton offered to do it after authoring of these discs had been completed. Running about a half an hour, we get a lot of great anecdotes about Patrick's son seeing him in the suit, the staccato production schedule, and why he thought the show befuddled executives, which lead to its cancellation. Warburton is genuinely in love with the role, and joins the rest of the cast and crew in the hope that the DVDs will sell well enough to prompt a Tick movie of some kind.

The Tick was the number one series in Columbia TriStar's recent TV on DVD poll. The studio has delivered, but just barely. Wrapped in a bright blue Amaray keepcase, these scant 9 episodes just aren't enough. Just when you really start getting into them, the whole series is done, and you can't console yourself with great DVD extras either. Want more? Buy the DVDs and tell your friends to grab them too. Maybe, just maybe, that will be enough to encourage the creation of a follow up of some kind - a direct-to-video sequel like The Family Guy maybe. Mind you, The Tick is not for everyone. It's wacky, it's irreverent, and frankly it's pretty insane. It's also very entertaining and original. Hopefully, it will finally find the audience it deserves on DVD. Spoon!

Jeff Kleist
jeffkleist@thedigitalbits.com




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