The dangers of following the herd should be apparent, even to the herd. But, in their never-ending pursuit of “fitting in,” “being accepted” and other conformist crapola, the mindless citizens of America are led through the primrose cattle chute to the communal trough of pap again and again, because it’s what everyone else is doing. Never mind that you’ve got your head in the butt of the cow in front of you, and the cow behind you has his stuck similarly up yours—it’s all for the greater good of unity, right?
Moo, motherf …
OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh. I’ve been reading a book (during commercials, naturally) by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian, about the importance of questioning authority and the fallacy of consensus, and some of it’s rubbing off. Apparently, so are 50-cent words like “fallacy” and “consensus.”
Fact: Most of you (even “free thinkers” who pick up wacky alt-weeklies) will always watch the latest brain-numbing installments of Friends or Survivor on Thursday, because you’ve been conditioned to believe there’s nothing else on and, well, everyone else will be watching them. Gotta have something to yak about at the water hole, er, cooler with your herd, uh, friends, right? (Thursday’s WWF Smackdown viewers don’t figure into this theorem—they have their own set of problems.)
I’ve been writing about The Tick (Fox, debuts Thursday, Nov. 8) since I first laid my lucky mitts on the advance pilot tape months ago, so consider this another reminder nailed to your fuzzy forehead, Bessie: You must watch this show! Rise up and jump the electrical fence of compliance, cattle! As the big blue defender of justice himself says in the opening credits, “The few who answer the call must leave comfort, safety, and often sanity behind. But someone’s gotta stand the heat and stay in the kitchen. Someone’s gotta don the oven mitts of all that’s right and strangle the red-hot throat of all that’s wrong!”
The red-hot throat just might belong to Fox. Sending The Tick on a seeming ratings suicide mission against Friends, Survivor and Smackdown, the network is either trying to subversively break the shackles of viewer-cow conformity (good) or quickly squash the cobalt superhero under the jackboot of an impossible showdown (evil, very evil). How confidant are the elite few Tick true believers that the show will even make it through November, much less lure cud-chewers away from the ensconced competition? Put it this way: My three-episode videotape has been passed around more than Anna Nicole Smith at a Matlock convention—even the faithful aren’t banking on The Tick lasting more than a few weeks.
Herd-mentality logic says The Tick is toast in prime time. Both the original Tick comic book and ’90s animated TV series were cult hits at best, and this live-action version takes the bizarro factor to the extreme, through the roof, over the top and every other direction imaginable. The mere sight of Patrick Warburton in the Tick costume (complete with motorized antennae that move with every emotion) is ridiculous enough. To hear him bellow superheroic lines like “Evil’s afoot and hoofin’ it with dark gusto, chum!” upon the arrival of Apocalypse Cow (a super-villain that shoots fire from its teats) with loopy-but-steel-jawed élan? I’m still laughing, and I’ve already watched it 50 times.
Moth-man sidekick Arthur (David Burke), suave Latin self-promoter Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell) and leggy government operative Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) are The Tick’s motley justice league, all superheroes with egos bigger than their apartments in The City, the rundown metropolis where the blue man does his crime fightin.’ The debut episode features evil in the form of the aforementioned Apocalypse Cow and leftover Russian robot Red Scare—oh, and a broken bus-stop coffee machine. (“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine men call coffee! Java devil, you are now my bitch!” Like I said, 50 times.)
The subsequent episodes are even better … and stranger. Ready to trot away from the herd yet and tune into The Tick, or are you staying with the mooing vox populi? C’mon, you’ll probably only have to commit to a week or two …