Dear Amazon, Please Keep Every New Show

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The Tick has been one of my favorite comic book characters of all time. I grew up with the comics and animated series, loved the FOX live action show with Patrick Warburton (that got sidetracked by the whole 9/11 thing happening), and was excited and terrified when I heard Amazon was hitting the reset button with a new live-action series starring Peter Serafinowicz (from Shaun of the Dead) and Griffin Newman (fromuh-oh, Vinyl). Creator Ben Edlund does a phenomenal job bringing these characters back to life in a new, yet completely familiar, way.

New is the feel of the show. Arthur is a depressed, nervous young man whose father was killed in an attack by The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). The Tick appears to pull him out of this funk and force him to follow his dreams of being a super hero. While remaining an over-the-top comedy, there is a shift in tone, and I think it works pretty well.

As a life-long Tick fan, I had only two issues with the pilot (not enough for me to avoid raving about the show on Amazon’s survey).

One, the veiny and off-putting costume they gave to Peter Serafinowicz. I didn’t think he could pull off the character, but he does it well. The costume really doesn’t do it for me. I’m hoping against hope that maybe if they have the budget they can give The Tick those white animated Deadpool-type eyes. That would be a major improvement.

Two–and this is what scares me the most–without giving anything away (because this is pure speculation)…It seems like the show is guiding the viewer along the path that The Tick exists only in Arthur‘s mind. From a young age, Arthur has a nervous “tick” in his eye that re-emerges the first time he meets “The Tick”. That revelation, combined with the fact that Arthur hears voices when he’s staring at his bright blue nightlight gave me a horrible gut feeling that this may be bad news for the plot of the show. The Tick is not imaginary.

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Jean-Claude Van Johnson is an enjoyable action/comedy that may be too absurd to win over a major audience. If you’re a fan of JCVD movies–like, a major fan of his movies–you will love this pilot. But, like me, you may not see it becoming a series.

The show almost seems like a follow-up to the film JCVD. In this pilot, Jean-Claude plays himself, an out of work action star named Jean-Claude Van Damme. Only there’s one catch: he’s a special ops secret agent who goes by the CODE NAME: Jean-Claude Van Johnson. Yes. That is the plot.

It’s pretty much Ricky Gervais’ EXTRAS about an action star…who is also a super soldier. So he’s doing awful action movie roles (like Huckleberry Finn) while also thwarting secret evil schemes behind the scenes. But, thankfully, it’s a comedy. I’m just not entirely convinced of JCVD’s comedy chops…but, just for your pleasure, here is a word-for-word line from the pilot to set the mood:

“Jane, the job is harder than I remember it, the movie is shit, and the woman I love is fucking N-word Jim.”

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I Love Dick is, not surprisingly, both the title of a new pilot on Amazon, and an effective synopsis of said pilot. Of the three, this is my least favorite, but I did enjoy it very much. Starring Kathryn Hahn, who is always very funny, but seems underutilized in a middle-aged sexual discovery drama, I Love Dick is the story of a NY woman married to a total goober (Griffin Dunne–yes, that’s two actors named Griffin mentioned so far, thanks for counting) who travel to an academic artsy community in Marfa, Texas.

There are some Woody Allen-type relationship quirks happening here and all of it seems way-too-real. Evidently, this series pilot was adapted from a popular “feminist” novel…which should always be a red flag of sorts. This show plays out more like a Harlequin Romance novel about a rugged cowboy tempting the sexually unassuming New York City female writer. It’s similar to Fifty Shades of Grey but nothing very sexual happens outside of some nude dude butts and Hahn’s doofy husband feebly attempting to take her from behind.

I Love Dick is a chick show, but almost entirely too targeted towards “women of a certain age”. Even Kevin Bacon, who is supposed to be the hunky cowboy sex object, is only jacked-up in appeal because every other man in the show is off-the-charts-gay.

Oh, and they introduce a subplot with a transgender woman in a trailer who lies about writing a play about the NY Married Couple for some reason. I expect this will play a larger role in the series, if the series continues, but I see it as a pretty book-ended 33 minute stand-alone short film.

If it were that, I could say I’m 100% on board.

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