The Tick died a quick death after its November 2001 Fox debut, doomed by its contra-Survivor timeslot and by the network's habit of airing bonus episodes on off days. Network mishandling aside, the live-action superhero parody may have been too strange to survive. Based on Ben Edlund's cult comic-book series (previously adapted as a Saturday-morning cartoon), and produced by Edlund with Seinfeld writer Larry Charles and Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, The Tick presents Patrick Warburton as an overstuffed, blue-clad, heavily askew champion of justice. Warburton plays the hero as childlike and boisterous, with a springy monotone voice that overtly references Adam West's Batman. The character's over-articulation dead-ends into his limited intelligence: The worst epithet Warburton can think to call a robber is "Mr. Taking Stuff." Most of the nine completed Tick episodes consist mainly of Warburton casually hanging out with his hero pals: meek David Burke, slacker lothario Nestor Carbonell, and patriotic bombshell Liz Vassey. On the DVD collection's pilot-episode commentary track, Sonnenfeld admits that he considered Seinfeld a touchstone for the kind of show he wanted to make, and the "also-rans sit around talking" approach probably helped sink the series. The tone of the live-action Tick shares a little of the stale funk of the feature-film bomb Mystery Men, and the show is nowhere near as lively as either the Tick comic or the cartoon, which had more crime-fighting and a richer parade of colorful characters. Even Warburton's non sequitur outbursts aren't as surreal as those of his pen-and-ink counterparts; he never even shouts out the Tick's trademark battle-cry, "Spoon!" But for all The Tick's 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. The interplay among the four principals was maturing, and the writers began to play with structure and subject matter, basing entire episodes on a super-villain's trial or a hero's funeral, and focusing on how heroes pursue personal relationships. In the end, the show was becoming a warm representation of professional camaraderie, and how four messed-up people learn to get by. Its demise was explicable, but that doesn't mean fans won't miss the sweet, dim Warburton. Still, the hero himself understood that "everything dies… even potatoes."
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