The Tick, S1E2: “The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale”

(If you like, you can follow along by watching the episode below.)

The beauty of animation is that it can bring to life things that it would be impossible, or at least difficult, for reality or practical effects to explore. “The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale” is one of the show’s earliest testaments to that mentality, and one of its finest.

Now that the Tick and Arthur are established, they can get down to the business of patrolling. But at the beginning of this episode, it’s they who fall on their faces while more skilled crime fighters carry the night. After spending the first episode hamstrung by relationship drama, we get our first look at the more commonly hyper-competent American Maid. She saves Tick and Arthur from getting too embarrassed by the Forehead, Boils, and Zipper Neck, but is upset that they intervened: she was trying to trail them to see where they were going. Arthur finds an invitation to a birthday party for Chairface Chippendale, and the three sneak in as caterers.

The birthday party is an excellent showcase for the art team to show off their knack for mutated henchmen and gangsters. Most of them fall pretty tidily into a “what if this guy’s ____ was ____” formula, but most of the visuals are at least mildly amusing. The show even takes time out to throw them a sympathy bone with Chippendale’s pre-crime-committing spiel, which is fairly impressive, given that excluding the opening theme and closing credits, this episode is only 17 minutes long, so it has to kind of keep things moving along if it wants to wrap up neatly. I’m not sure if the length is because it’s a syndication cut or because advertisers got 13 minutes of every half-hour on the Fox Kids block in those days, but if it’s the latter, then holy crap that’s a lot of commercials.

After getting waylaid the first time, the gang has more luck once the crime is actually in motion and everyone’s attention is focused on the laser. Arthur unscrews the flashlight powering the laser, Tick nearly gets his head crushed by a henchman with a wingnut for a head named Dean, and Chairface Chippendale throws in the towel with a funny reading of simply “Okay”.

Cheese & Pixels Rating: What's Gonna Be on the Next String Cheese Album? (out of 5)

It’s neat that Chippendale at least partially gets away with his mad plot, and even better that it remains a part of the series’s continuity. The pilot may have set up the basic heroes and some of their dynamics, but this episode right here is the real mission statement of The Tick.

Stray Observations: 

  • A quick moment of appreciation for Tony Jay, the voice of Chairface, who was a fixture of voiceover work in the 90s, often playing erudite villains—Chairface, of course, but also Megabyte in ReBoot, Monsieur D’Arque in Beauty and the Beast, Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wraith in the Mighty Ducks animated series—but also occasionally voicing good guys as well (Virgil on Mighty Max, the Chief in the Secret Squirrel segments of 2 Stupid Dogs). Jay died in 2006, but it’s safe to say, despite how roundly (and often rightly) mocked the phrase is, that 90s kids will always remember him.
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  • A lot of the show’s merchandise came from characters from this episode. So you got a lot of one-shot villains with few if any lines who had their own action figures and/or miniature figurines, like Dyna-Mole and Dean.
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  • Love Micky Dolenz’s maniacally giddy reading of “Didn’t expect a clip-on, did ya?”
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  • “These little crab things are great!”
    “You like them? They’re my own recipe.”
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  • “You can thank my dental hygienist for our untimely aliveness.”
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  • Dean can crush diamond, but not the Tick’s head. Maybe the Tick’s skull is made of azbantium?

First Appearances: Sewer Urchin; Chairface Chippendale; Professor Chrome Dome; various and sundry minor henchmen; vandalism of the moon.

Next Time: “The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil”

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