Roush Review: A Ticklish 'Tick', A Low-Buzz 'Disjointed'
Peter Serafinowicz in The Tick
The relentless roll-out of new series on streaming services doesn't even let up in the dog days of late summer, though it's pretty clear they didn't save their best for last.
The better of Friday's two comedy premieres comes courtesy of Amazon. If it bugs you that so few superheroes seem to actually enjoy saving the world—The Defenders on Netflix a case in point— then prepare to revel in the giddy antics of Amazon's fitfully amusing The Tick, the latest attempt to bring Ben Edlund’s wacky comic-book parody to life. Earlier incarnations include an animated series and Fox’s 2001 live-action cult comedy, which starred Patrick Warburton as a definitive version of the bombastic buffoon in a blue insect suit but lasted only nine episodes.
Warburton is a producer for Amazon’s new version, featuring Peter Serafinowicz in the title role. He may lack some of his predecessor’s demented authority, but this Tick tickles with a daffy, oafish sweetness and wonder, a goody-two-antennae who trumpets his every arrival with exclamations like, “Unhand that precious balloon of hope!”
Though unclear on his own origin story, the Tick is convinced his destiny lies with a new sidekick: a mousy, neurotic accountant named Arthur (Griffin Newman), who finds himself cloaked in an absurd winged moth costume. If The Tick lightened up any more, it might float away, and we’d probably gladly go along for the ride.
The Tick, Series Premiere, Friday, Aug. 25, AmazonPictured: Aaron Moten, Dougie Baldwin, Kathy Bates
Dazed and Unamused: There might have been a time and a place when a workplace sitcom set in a marijuana dispensary would have been considered daring, shocking or maybe even transgressive—the ’70s, perhaps? Which is where the musty Disjointed, from comedy pros Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum (Jon Stewart's Daily Show), seems to have been exhumed from. Filmed in front of a live and possibly buzzed audience (gauging from the hysterical laughter), this feels like a relic from the Cheech & Chong stoned-is-always-funny era.
Kathy Bates is typically terrific as the hippy-dippy proprietor Ruth, a longtime cannabis activist who sees her California shop as a safe-haven sanctuary for those who want to drop out and turn on, unlike her MBA son Travis (Aaron Moten), an ambitiously square entrepreneur who sees franchise possibilities as he begs Ruth to read his business plan. Sorry, dude, she'd rather crack feeble Pottery Barn and Pizza Hut jokes. (Ummm, pizza, her clichéd staff "bud-tenders" would probably say.)
Though there's a semblance of substance in a subplot involving the store's security guard (Tone Bell), who suffers from PTSD, Disjointed is mostly content to coast on Ruth's gentle sarcasm toward her wacky clients (including the always-welcome Nicole Sullivan) and stoner humor on the level of "Oh paranoia, why can't I breed you out?"
Maybe this should only be watched under the influence.
Disjointed, Series Premiere, Friday, Aug. 25, Netflix
This article also appeared in the Aug. 21–Sept. 3 issue of TV Guide Magazine