of characters from the cartoon, “American Maid” and “Die Fledermaus,” respectively. And yes, the cartoon names are both way, way better. The characters were funnier, too. In the cartoon, ’Maus” got into it to pick up chicks, and wear revealing clothing in public. He mostly stands around posing, and runs away whenever danger rears. “American Maid” is a kickass babe (Named Janet) who utterly detests Maus, but kinda maybe finds him attractive. In this version, “Captain Liberty” (Also named “Janet”) is a kickass babe who utterly hates Manuel, but who can’t keep her hands off him. And he’s just a preening trust fund kid. It’s sexed up, but not as funny, mostly ’cuz Die Fledermaus got better lines. But I don’t care ’cuz it’s got a 29-year-old Liz Vassey in a costume that probably shows off more than half of her breasts, and frankly, at the end of the day, that was *all* that I remembered about this show. That, and that it wasn’t very funny.
And yet it was. My original opinions were just wrong.
I should mention that neither Liberty/Maid nor Manuel/Fledermaus were in the comics in any form. In those, Tick and Arthur either hang out by themselves, or team up with whatever random lunatic happens to be handy. They needed a more regular set of foils to play off of for the show, however.
A lot of scenes in the pilot came out of the first episode of the Cartoon, or the early eps of the comic book, or were obvious variations on the theme. Arthur getting fired was straight out of the cartoon, as was him watching Tick beat people up, and Bat Manuel’s first appearance. The “Red Scare” plot is a variation on The Tick’s first superhero battle from the comics, in which, after wandering around with no conflict for six issues, he stumbles on “The Red Scare” scam. (Up-and-coming heroes can rent a super villain called “The Red Scare” to show up, break some stuff, and take a dive when the hero shows up, thereby ensuring some buzz and an appearance on the evening news. The Tick stumbles into this, not realizing it’s a scam, beats the living crap out of a poor unemployed wrestler playing the part (“Stalin was keen!”) *AND* ruins the career of a Flash wannabe).
One scene from The Comic that would have fit great, but didn’t make it, is when Arthur excitedly invites The Tick into his apartment, and then the two guys realize they don’t actually *know* each other, and they’re just guys wearing body stockings, all alone, and it gets awkward, and they both start worrying that the other person might be gay.
Tick: “Are you…uhm…you know…that…uhm…that way?”
Arthur: “Me? No! Nonononono! No!”
Tick: “Good. Good.”
Tick: “No! Nope! No. Not at all.”
Tick: “Superheroes shouldn’t be.”
I mention this because there’s a long-running superhero-as-gay metaphor in the comic and this show (And to a lesser extent in the cartoon), with people talking about Supherodom as “An alternative lifestyle” and “Coming out of the superhero closet” and “Superhero bars” and stuff like that. Most of this is genuinely pretty funny. Funnier, I think, than if it had been done in the “It’s OK to be Gay” here-and-now, and far funnier than if it had been done in the “Kill All Fags” 80s. The Tick falls into the long transitional phase where it wasn’t accepted, but you kind of didn’t want to be mean or judgemental either, which just made the whole thing really awkward. Awkward = comedy.
Man, the Carter scenes were cheap. What, they couldn’t find a lookalike? They had to film ‘em really tight to hide his face. That limited some of the fun of the fight scene. And MAN that was a long elevator shaft! I can only assume that was this iteration of The City’s version of “The Altitudinous Building,” the largest free-standing structure in The City.
Man, the music was really weak.
I guess that’s it.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS SHOW?
Yeah, why not? It’s funny, it slams Jimmy Carter in a backhanded way, and, again: Liz Vassey. She’s my generations Kari Whurer, only without the paint. Or general sluttyness. Or co-hosting stint on Remote Control.
Incidentally, on this date in 1980, I was in Sarasota, Florida, on vacation with my family when a HUGE storm rolled in and basically flooded the entire west coast of the state. Went to bed and it was a bit rainy, woke up and there was water all the way from the beach to several hundred feet inland. Man, that was fun!