Friday 24 November 2017

'We want The Tick to resonate in 20 years the way Buffy does now' - Buffy writer David Fury on new superhero show

Amazon Prime's new superhero comedy series lands August 25

Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz at The Tick. Amazon's new series kicks off on August 25
Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz at The Tick. Amazon's new series kicks off on August 25
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

It has been 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer first his our TV screens and one of its writers, David Fury, is hoping his new show The Tick channels the same winning combo of pathos and comedy.

Fury wrote episodes for Joss Whedon's cult hit Buffy from the second season, eventually becoming co-executive producer by season six, and twenty years later he's hugely proud of its legacy.

"People always come up to me," he tells Independent.ie.  "I get a lot of fan mail.  I get people contacting me from all over the world and the most gratifying ones for me are the ones coming from young women, or even older women, who tell me they were going through difficult times in their lives and the work I was doing under Joss pulled them out from the brink and kind of helped them through those rough times.  They felt inspired by a female superhero who had friends and yet had flaws and had to be forgiven for them."

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Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy The Vampire Slayer

His latest project is a re-imaging of The Tick which seen previous incarnations as an animtaed series, comic book, and a short-lived live action series in the early 2000s.  This time around it stars Peter Serafinowicz as the weird and wonderful Tick with Griffin Newman as his unwilling sidekick Arthur.  David hopes it channels some of the same vibe as Buffy.

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Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz at The Tick. Amazon's new series kicks off on August 25

"Arthur and his sister go through a lot as people do and they suffer the loss of their father, so there’s a lot of pathos in there," he says.  "I think of it very much like a Mutant Enemy [Whedon's production company] show very much like Buffy.  We really want it to resonate in the same way that Buffy does 20 years from now."

After Buffy Fury worked on the spin-off Angel before taking a trip down the drama route, writing for shows including 24, Homeland, and Lost.

He continues, "Buffy was the most, I have to say, the most special time in my entire career and this is actually the second.

"I’m proud of the work I got to do on Lost and 24 and those other shows but I never felt the love like I do now for a show because [The Tick] plays to a lot of the things I love.  I love genre and superheroes and comedy and I love meta humour and all these things are things I haven’t been able to express. 

"To be able to play in a similar kind of playground so many years later now is amazing."

The Tick debuts on Amazon on August 25 after a "phenomenal" reception at ComicCon- even from fans of the original series who have been somewhat skeptical about this new one with its new cast and new tone despite the fact Fury worked with the character's original creator Ben Edlund.

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The original THE TICK with Ron Perlman, Patrick Warburton © Columbia TriStar

"There is definitely a large fan base, a cult fan base for all the versions of The Tick that have come before, the animated series, the comic book and the live action series in the early 2000s," reveals David.

"Some of them have been sceptical, asking is Patrick Warburton in it, and we say 'no but he’s producing' and they get very suspicious but everyone I know who has expressed that concern about the new version have seen it and are excited about it. 

"Those nine episodes of the old show will always exist but this is a whole new version, a completely tonally new version, not just funny but grounded in more of a real world, grounded emotionally.  There's tragedy in this, there are stakes - people can die - and that has never been the case in earlier incarnations of The Tick.  We’re treating the world much more seriously while still being funny."

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One of the main differences is that each episode of the original series was a stand alone work.  These days everything needs to be serialised to facilitate binge culture.  Character development is paramount.

Amazon has commissioned 12 episodes of The Tick and divided them into two so the first six are available on August 25 and the second batch land early next year.  It suits both those who favour bingeing and those who prefer delayed gratification.

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"Instead of releasing everything at once it's allowing the audience to catch up with it," says Fury.

"If you try to talk to someone about a show you binge watched you tend not to say anything until they've seen it all too.  By releasing the first six episodes it gives viewers a chance to catch up with it in their own time before the second six episodes.  It's the best of both worlds.  I love that sweet anticipation.  I miss weekly television.  I think of it as a very sweet torture!"

With Marvel and DC taking over our movie and TV screens (Marvel's The Defenders has just landed on Netflix) the world is suffering from superhero fatigue.  Fury agrees, but reckons The Tick is the antidote.

"The Tick has always been ahead of its time," he says.  "It was making fun of comic book heroes when a very small niche audience enjoyed those kinds of things. 

"I agree about fatigue and the nice thing about our show is we get to make fun of that fatigue.  We get to comment on that.  I think what I’m saying is we believe people who enjoy super hero shows and people who don’t like super hero shows will enjoy this show."

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Angel TV series

Fury and Edlund previously worked together on Angel.  Edlund cast Fury in one of his episodes and they became friends.  Writing The Tick together was seamless, although Edlund had to get used to writing with a partner, something he had never done before.

"I was a huge fan of Ben’s and the earlier version of The Tick," says David.  "I think we work great together.  We’re an ideal pair. We have a great partnership.  We had to come at it a bit differently, and adjust to all of the things we’ve been doing over the years and educate each other. 

"I went on to do a lot of different dramas, serious dramas, not genre, which was very odd for me.  I started in comedy and then as a sitcom writer and went on to do 24, Tyrant, Homeland, very serious things and Ben continued in the genre vein and I was desperate to get back to doing genre."

He worried his "comedy muscle had atrophied" but thankfully he still had access to his funny bone.

"When he brought me in for this we talked over who we’d work it.  It was great but a bit bumpy.  But by the time we were into the middle of the season we were a machine.  Working together was amazing.  We just clicked into each other’s sensibilities.

"Part of the the thing is it’s like a marriage.  You have to get used to living together.  Once we did we’re a great couple.  We celebrate our first anniversary soon!"

Unlike most Hollywood couples, they're hoping to get to at least five years.

"Here’s the thing I want to get clear," says, "When everyone says ‘There’s a bible for our show’, nobody knows exactly what they’re doing next year.  That’s never true, never true.  Nobody knows.  What you have is a general sense of what the season would be about and how you think the last season could end and that’s what Ben has.  Ben has a vision of an arc playing each season, a five year plan, but that doesn’t preclude us from going beyond five years.  We definitely hope to be on air at least five years!"

If passion was an indicator of success The Tick will be the longest running show on TV. 

Catch all of the characters exclusively in part 1, season 1 of The Tick, premiering exclusively on Amazon Prime Video starting August 25. Season 1 of The Tick will be released in two parts of 6 episodes each, and part 2 will be released in early 2018. Customers who are not already Amazon Prime Video members can sign up for a free 7-day trial at PrimeVideo.com

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