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Buena Vista Home Video presents
The Tick vs. Season One (1994)

"Listen, ours is an epic tale. True friendship, heartstopping danger, men and women in tights, making the rules and breaking 'em."
- The Tick (Townsend Coleman)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 29, 2006

Stars: Townsend Coleman
Other Stars: Rob Paulsen, Kevin Schon, Jess Harnell, Cam Clarke, Miky Dolenz, Kay Lenz, Tony Jay, Jim Cummings, Roddy McDowall, Roger Rose, Ed Gilbert, Pat Fraley, Pat Musick, Susan Silo, Maurice LaMarche
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:10m:00s
Release Date: August 29, 2006
UPC: 786936710670
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+C-B- D-

DVD Review

Making the leap from wonderfully bizarre cult comic book hero to a Saturday morning animated series would usually mean creative troubles, more often in the form of massive character sanitization and overall mainstreaming of the content. When the mighty blue justice of Ben Edlund's comic The Tick debuted on Fox in 1994, Edlund was on board as writer/co-producer, so that seemed to bode well, and the result was a short-lived series that ran three seasons, and that thankfully stayed fairly close to the weirdness of the original source material.

The Tick (voiced by Townsend Coleman) is the slightly dense big blue protector of The City, and along with his moth-costumed sidekick Arthur (voiced by The Monkees' Micky Dolenz) battle a steady array of strange villains (Chairface Chippendale, Dinosaur Neil, The Breadmaster), occasionally aided by an even stranger lot of good guys (Der Fledermaus, The Sea Urchin, The Civic Minded Five). The whole concept lives to poke pretty hard at the superhero genre, and Edlund manages to carry much of the same tone from the comic, with The Tick constantly uttering confusing metaphors and long, rambling speeches that go nowhere as he and Arthur confront all manner of surreal potential evil.

After its run on Fox, Comedy Central began airing reruns, broadening the audience for Edlund's bizarrely clever superhero parody, and now Buena Vista is releasing the two-disc The Tick vs. Season One, borrowing its name from the title structure of each episode, which are always "The Tick vs. something." This set has 12 episodes from the 1994 season, but considering there were originally thirteen, that makes one AWOL for this collection. That would be Episode 11 (The Tick vs. The Mole Men), with the only mention of it being a tiny one-liner on the back cover simply stating it is not included. The official party line for its absence is "creative considerations," though the real reason has not been fully spelled out; if you travel in the right nerd circles, all sorts of internet rumors abound, including one about a legal snafu concerning a Cindy Crawford/mole parody that appears in the ep, but the word on the street is that this isn't the reason at all.

So just to make things weirder, an entire episode is missing for "creative considerations", but an episode like The Tick vs. The Proto-Clown that is included features the collapse of what is clearly supposed to be a pair of World Trade Center-ish buildings, so it's not like this is a completely sanitized collection. Sure, the ep originally aired in February 1995 and the visual is a fairly quick one, but it seems if Buena Visa were trying to round the corners completely, the Proto-Clown segment would have been gone too. So at least that's something, right?

There are so many well-written supporting characters here that at times The Tick himself almost becomes an afterthought. The villains, as in many legit superhero tomes, tend to steal the spotlight from the hero, and here it is characters like the Roddy McDowall-voiced Breadmaster (deadly baked goods), El Seed (a giant sunflower dressed like a matador) and Chairface Chippendale (he has a Chippendale chair for a head) who do the honors. The likes of heroic pals such as Der Fledermaus—picture a cowardly Batman, one who even faints at danger—and the Rain Man mumblings of the Aquaman-knockoff, The Sea Urchin, are good for more than a few laughs, and American Maid—an even more patriotic version of Wonder Woman and probably the closest character to actually have any measurable crimefighting abilities—make the universe to pick and choose from very diverse, so the eps do not have to continually rely on The Tick and Arthur to save the day.

Patrick Warburton completely made the title character his own during the 2001 live action series The Tick, so in retrospect Townsend Coleman's portrayal seems almost anemic by comparison, but he does have the same kind of dimwitted swagger in his delivery, just minus that identifiable booming Warburton voice. It's a small quibble, really.

On the plus side, however, you just have to love the way American Maid will hurls her high heels at the bad guys.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This is one pug-ugly set of 1.33:1 transfers, sporting soft edges, ghosting, color flicker and some moderate debris more often than not. Some eps look briefly stronger than others, but overall the quality is pretty disappointing. It seems there wasn't any sort of restoration done to these at all.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided by a rather plain 2.0 Dolby surround track, one that delivers clear voice quality but not much else to get excited about. The mix exhibits a bit of bouncy fullness from time to time, but generally lacks any dramatic bite to make this anything more than just below average.

A French language dub is also available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Wild, Lost: The Complete Second Season, Cars
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. lithograph postcard
Extras Review: No extras, save a trio of trailers for The Wild, Lost: Season Two, and Cars. The front cover promises a "collectible Tick lithograph" on the inside, though I'd probably call it more of an oversized postcard, measuring 4.5" x 7". I'll assume they're all the same, but the one in my copy was of The Tick bounding off the edge of a building, with some trivia about the color of his costume on the flipside.

Each 20-minute episode is one chapter long, so my questionable math skills tell me that makes twelve chapters altogether. Optional English or French subtitles are also available.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Even as an incomplete Season One (missing is the infamous The Tick vs. The Mole Men), the content remains geekboy funny, but the presentation pulls up lame, making this far from the surefire recommendation it should have been.

Bummer.

 


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