10 Things That Must Be in a Live-Action The Tick Relaunch

By Matthew Catania in Comics, Daily Lists, TV
Friday, September 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

5. Man-Eating Cow


The live-action relaunch is the perfect place to re-educate the world about the majesty that is the Man-Eating Cow, but this time she can be closer to her comic book inspiration than she was on the cartoon. (In my head canon, is she only joined The Terror's crew to destroy them from the inside because she's no supervillainess.) The show could really use more female characters like her. (Sprinkle in Carmelita, Oedipus, Oedipus's step-mother, Bumbling Bee, the Ottoman, the Bee Twins, Eclair, Blitzen, Jungle Janet, Crested Grebe, Babe the Blue Ox, Desperadoe, and Scarf Ace as well so Captain Liberty won't have to represent an entire gender by herself.)

The Man-Eating Cow (not to be confused with Apocalypse Cow) does exactly what it says on the tin. She's a cow that eats men, providing they're criminals. (I'm not sure if she has a double standard towards lady lawbreakers.) She spits out any leather items on them because she's no cannibal. Her ability to hone in on evildovers is so precise that the Tick even entrusted The City to her while he went on a roadtrip. Including Man-Eating Cow would show audiences that The Tick isn't just a one-trick pony parody of familiar superhero tropes.

The show doesn't need to worry about how difficult it would be to film a cow eating a person in graphic detail and how much gore it can show. Just have a criminal run down an alley pursued by the Man-Eating Cow, have a reaction shot of the main cast as terrified screams echo forth, and then have her saunter out from the alleyway with some kayro syrup on her snout. If Fringe can have a Holstein as a recurring character, The Tick can have a Jersey guest star. It'd be cheaper than renting a capybara.

4. Ninjas. LOTS Of Ninjas


When The Tick comic debuted in the '80s, it lampooned the sudden ubiquity of ninjas in comics like Daredevil, X-Men, Batman, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There was one ninja in the previous attempt, and it lead to one of its funniest quotes: "Another urban legend dispelled. Ninjas don't bounce." That's a good start, but the revival can do better. After all, comics has a story entitled "Night of a Million-Zillion Ninja."

The ninjas were imported to the The City by Sagin to work at his Ninja World theme park and help him obtain the Thorn of Oblivion, which looks like a giant candy corn. That story (featuring Elektra parody Oedipus, and Paul the Samurai with his katana sheathed in a baguette in a failed attempt to sneak it past customs) probably won't work on a limited budget and with the tone they've had, but it could be casually referenced in conversation. What's important is that the ninjas stuck around in The City after their master was vanquished. Under the conservation of ninjutsu principle, they were ridiculously inept even by typical cannon fodder standards. So it's not even necessary to hire any stuntmen with superlative karate skills. They only need to be able to impersonate a hedge and complain about their union benefits.

The ninjas have even started integrating into The City and getting everyday jobs. I want as many extras dressed in black ninja uniforms as possible, regardless of the context of a scene. It'd be hilarious to see the cast go for fast food or the DMV and see ninjas working there. Ninjas could walk down the street in broad daylight carrying groceries. It'd be even funnier if they didn't explain why ninjas make up a quarter of The City's population. Just don't neglect to give them one crowning moment of awesome as a ninja hedge.

3. The Comet Club

To liven things up, why not have the Tick and pals take an evening off at the Comet Club? It's the premiere nightclub for the superhero scene. It even has a Sidekick Lounge! This could be an easy way to introduce a bunch of goofy superheroes that wouldn't fit in other episodes. It'd actually be preferable not to spend a ton of money on their costumes because they're supposed to be gag characters. Fishboy the Lost Prince of Atlantis, Firey Blaze (Ron Perlman!), Friendly Fire, the Champion, and other heroes from the previous non-cartoon series could also return.

Which superheroes appear isn't so important so long as it includes the "original" Tick, Barry Hubris. Having Barry challenge our protagonist for the right call himself the Tick would be a great opportunity to include a fight scene that also skewers superhero clichés. Barry's costume and shield would need a little money invested in them since he's a billionaire, albeit one who foams at the mouth. If they can nab Charlie Day for The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight too, that'd be spectacular.

So yeah, I want a live-action version of The Tick #11 and "The Tick vs. The Tick." Not everything needs to reinvent the wheel. It has all the potential to be a great episode. It'd combine an activity that most people can relate to (clubbing) with superhero politics and memorable antagonists.

2. Chairface Chippendale

Every superhero needs an arch-nemesis, and the Tick's is definitely Chairface Chippendale. He's the antithesis of our hero: devious, suave, wealthy, vain, frail, immoral, and, most importantly, he has a chair for a head. It was a massive oversight not to have included him in the original run of the live-action show. After all, he to planned to write his name on the Moon with a flashlight-powered laser as the ultimate act of cosmic vandalism!

His introductory story from The Tick #6 where he throws himself a birthday party attended by criminals so ugly even Dick Tracy would gag at the sight of them (although this time it's okay for his guests to look normal so the show can spend the money elsewhere) would work just as well as it did in the comics and cartoon. To fit the non-cartoon's tone, the Tick and Arthur could accidentally crash his birthday party when they get the wrong directions to Batmanuel's party. Surely this show can afford to Photoshop "CHA" on every shot of the Moon from this episode onward.

But how could the show afford to bring Chairface Chippendale to life? All that's needed is one of those false shoulder pieces used for Headless Horsemen costumes with a balsa wood chair fastened to it. They don't even need to animate the chair when he talks. What's necessary is that they get someone with an aristocratic voice to dub him. Get Stephen Fry on the phone! He wants how much?! Get Robin Atkin Downes on the phone!

1. Decent Action Scenes

My biggest gripe with the original live action The Tick was its lack of action scenes. 95% of all the superheroics happened off-screen. This may have been less galling if I hadn't already been spoiled by the superlative The Tick cartoon, but only marginally so. It's tough to get invested in watching a TV show that cuts out all the exciting bits. The resurrected The Tick live action show needs a massive improvement in this area.

Now I understand that the live-action show has bigger budgetary constraints than the freewheeling cartoon. I'm not expecting to see Patrick Warburton's Tick battle a morphing clone made from his own mucous, wrestle Dinosaur Neil's titanic tongue, or be dragged across the sky by Skippy the propellerized robot dog. I do expect SOMETHING that isn't just dialogue. I'm not looking for top of the line realistic fights like on (Green) Arrow. The criminally underrated Mystery Men movie showed that it was possible to have comedic fight scenes where the superheroes still feel like lovable losers.

The action scenes don't even need to be that long provided they're memorable. Let's see Chainsaw Vigilante cut a swath of destruction with his powr tool until the blade shatters on the Tick's skin. Have the Tick strain against the crushing power of Barry's shield until the most dramatic moment. The action scenes don't all need to be fight scenes, either, so long as they're visually dynamic. An extended sequence of the Tick bounding across rooftops while Arthur soars above during a banter-filled patrol would be very welcome.

The original run of the liv- action The Tick felt like it only got it half right by focusing on the minutiae of the superheroes' lives over their thrilling exploits. It doesn't need to be an either/or situation. The relaunch of the show is going to have a much harder time hooking viewers now than it did in 2001 now that there's more competition for its niche. If viewers want a comic-book show that airs next year, they'll be able to choose from (Green) Arrow, The Flash, iZombie, Gotham, Constantine, Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones,The Walking Dead, and Powers. If they want a comedy, they can choose from every sitcom ever. The Tick needs to bridge them both. Television is a visual medium. The Tick shouldn't feel like it would work better as a radio play.

Grok my mouth music, Amazon!

You may remember Matthew Catania from such Daily Lists as
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10 Ways to Make a Wonder Woman Movie Not Suck
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