Sunbow Productions/Graz Entertainment/20th Century Fox Children’s Television (1995), Walt Disney Video (August 7, 2007), 2 discs, 252 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 original full frame ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, Not Rated, Retail: $34.99
The great blue bug of justice continues his relentless war on crime in The City.
The Sweatbox Review:
(For a more thorough look at this show, please refer to our review of The Tick Vs. Season One.)
Not content with bashing bad guys and tickling our funny bones for a measly single season, the mighty Tick returned for a second season on Fox Kids in the fall of 1995. Creator Ben Edlund continued to write or co-write the majority of stories, ensuring the continuing presence of oddball humor and the finest in superheroic satire. Little changed in the second season, save for Rob Paulsen taking over for Micky Dolenz as the voice of The Tick’s sidekick Arthur— a very smooth transition if ever there was one. For the most part, the episodes from Season Two could have just as easily have been from Season One, other than a few of the ongoing gags and the reappearance of some familiar faces. The quality never dropped off, as I couldn’t find a single clunker in this DVD set.
Unfortunately, I was not given the opportunity to evaluate the complete season, as once again an episode has been dropped from the set. The victim this time is the second episode of The Tick’s sophomore year, a story entitled Alone Together. Conjecture continues as to why another episode has prevented a complete season release, with attention this time (according to sources on the Web) focusing on the writer, Christopher McCulloch. Is it coincidence that the only other Tick episode he had written to this point was the same one deleted from the Season One set? It’s hard to say. Whatever the reason, it’s just too bad that the sets continue to be released incomplete. The absence of this particular episode is especially unfortunate, since it means we never see how the face of the moon was altered (again) in the series’ longest-running continuity sight gag. However, there are still twelve extra-Ticky episodes on this puppy, including the following:
The Little Wooden Boy And The Belly Of Love – The Tick and Arthur meet Carmalita, daughter of the inventor of Arthur’s flight suit. He is immediately smitten, which makes The Tick very jealous in a “but I was hoping we could spend the evening crime-fighting” kind of way. Despondent, The Tick creates a new sidekick out of wood, though his new buddy does not exactly get a fairy tale ending. A parallel story of a giant running whale named Blowhole joins the “A” story in momentous fashion at the end.
Armless But Not Harmless – In the most insidious, diabolical theft ever, The Tick and Arthur lose their arms to Milo, the honeybun of a pudgy villainous named Venus. (Get it? Get it? They lose their arms…? Get it?) When the arms are attached to not-too-convincing robot duplicates of our heroes, the boys must evade a police manhunt in order to protect their good names. They collide with the criminal couple at an awards ceremony for supervillains.
Leonardo DaVinci And His Fightin’ Genius Time Commandos! – Oh, was this one loopy! Paul Williams guest-stars as The Mother Of Invention, a nut who creates a time machine to kidnap various inventors throughout history. The gathered geniuses include Leonardo DaVinci, Johann Gutenberg, Thomas Edison, and Wheel (inventor of the wheel, naturally). With The Tick and Arthur having their hands full with Mother’s twisted scheme, the quarrelling inventors must band together to set things right.
Coach Fussel’s Lament – In a rare reappearance of a Season One villain, Brainchild returns to vex The Tick. Actually, what he does is transform him into a French-speaking chicken, and then he attempts to auction him off to a number of other supervillains. Arthur must save The Tick this time out, with the help of their super friends.
Bloomsday – OK, there’s another Season One villain here, as El Seed tries to steal a 400-year old flower in order to make it bloom in a devastatingly “bad way.” The flower is soothed only by music, and with Arthur having a cold, only The Tick’s terrific tenor can save the day.
Evil Sits Down For A Moment – The Ottoman Empress has the ability to make furniture do her bidding, and she also holds a strange hold over Die Fledermouse, who is bonkers for her. He’ll have to snap out of his infatuation, though, if he is to join his friends in preventing her from taking over The City.
Heroes – This delightful spoof of Cops sees The Tick and Arthur appear as subjects in a reality TV show about superheroes. As much as I enjoyed the concept for the episode, I also really got a kick out of its unique villain, The Deadly Bulb.
Ants In Pants! – After all those years of being tormented by small children with magnifying glasses, the ants are fighting back! Unfortunately, The Tick is totally weirded out by having hundreds of ants crawl into his spandex jammies, forcing him to retreat to Captain Sanity’s Superhero Sanatorium. There, he is “aided” by a head in a jar and a physical therapist who has watched Shaft way too many times.
The Tick Loves Santa! – The Tick, still convinced that Santa Claus exists, attempts to help a crook in a Santa suit, much to the derision of his super buddies. After the crooked Santa is electrocuted when being chased into a billboard, he gains the power to duplicate himself. The newly christened Multiple Santa hatches a scheme to create hundreds of himself in order to, yes, take over The City.
The Tick Vs. The Big Nothing – The Tick goes cosmic when The Tick and Arthur are taken by space aliens in order to help them fight a nihilistic alien race that all dress like Arthur.
The Tick Vs. Reno, Nevada – The prize dolphin in an act run by siblings Soren and Frederica in Reno is kidnapped, forcing them to consult Arthur, who they understand is the super-son of a couple they met on a cruise. Though initially disappointed that Arthur is the chubby bunny man standing next to the brawny blue guy, they are grateful for any assistance the mighty duo can provide. As it turns out, the ringleader of the kidnapping gang has a fish magnet that he wishes to use to bury the city in fish. The Tick is more useless than ever, however, in the face of his new gambling addiction.
Grandpa Wore Tights – The Terror returns, along with his son Terry, in search of his Desire-O-Vac. The device was lost in battle with the Decency Squad decades ago, and as coincidence would have it, The Tick is currently visiting them at their rest home!
Lots of wacky stories there! My only possible complaint is that the Season Two stories tend to focus on Tick, Arthur, American Maid, Die Fledermouse, and Sewer Urchin. While we do get glimpses or extended cameos by some of The City’s other super-residents, there is less of a sense of superhero community in this season, which for me made it feel just a little lacking. Nevertheless, the writing remains sharp enough in this season to give plenty of laughs per minute.
Is This Thing Loaded?
No way, man. This set is just as devoid of extras as the first season set. The main menu has some mildly amusing animation, but it’s pretty drab. At least we get chapter stops on the episodes, though there is no menu for them. The only other bones we’re thrown are the inevitable Previews, here including those for Underdog, The Invisible, The Muppet Show: Season Two, and Disney’s live action TV-on-DVD line-up— all on the first disc.
OK, we’ll give this section one point for the lithograph mentioned in the next section.
Similar to the last Tick set, Edlund provides the cover artwork as well as the art for a collectible lithograph. I would have preferred just one interview or commentary, but I have to admit it’s nice to see him included in some fashion at least. The case itself is a keepcase (with tray) with two snaps, and in addition to the lithograph there is an insert listing the disc contents. The keepcase is covered with an identical, embossed slip sleeve.
Ink And Paint:
The interlaced transfer made it tricky to grab screenshots for this review, but overall the transfers here are significantly better than they were in the previous set. Still, while there is less blooming and color bleeding, the line work of the drawings is often indistinct, there is a fair amount of shimmer, and the overall result is a DVD with a picture quality that barely reaches cable standards.
The stereo sound fairs a little better, coming off as true stereo rather than stereo-encoded mono. Separation between speakers is nice, and there is even a touch of bass where needed during the more explosive scenes.
Bottom line: If you liked The Tick’s first season, this one should also satisfy nicely. I have to admit that the show started to feel less fresh by this time, but that is likely due more to familiarity than an actual decline in quality. I do think, though, that I missed seeing more of the superhero community this time out (a really charming part of Season One), as this season seemed somewhat more focused on a smaller cast. The stories are still wonderfully bizarre, and plenty of chuckles are to be had. The DVD presentation is lacklustre, and it is frustrating that another season has gotten released incomplete, but there is definitely entertainment to be found on the two shiny discs contained in The Tick Vs. Season Two.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?