Amazon is gearing up their programming by resurrecting the Tick. All in an attempt to compete with Netflix. Their recent announcement resurrects 90s cartoon and failed live action show “The Tick.” The Tick’s will be another live-action show with Patrick Warburton, who was in the canceled live action show. I curbed my initial excitement as I work in a cubicle and screaming “Spoon” at the top of my lungs wasn’t an option.
But the show is weird as shit. That was par for the course for 90s cartoons. The 90s were full of weird ass cartoons. The Tick, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life and Doug were all prime examples of writers mentally bent from the 80s over indulgence of drugs, butt rock, and spandex pants.
The 90s were a unique (weird) time. While I’m excited the Tick gets another shot, the show’s premise needs updated for today’s audiences. While I’m at it, let’s talk about some other 90s cartoons that would work well with modern storytelling. Let’s start off with..
The Tick is the Dark (blue) Knight
For those who missed out on the original cartoon, take a second and head to YouTube. Come back when you can name the Tick’s war cry, sidekick and pet’s name. (Hint: Look up Tick vs The Uncommon Cold) Now that you’ve been introduced to the big blue bastard, let’s talk about his update. As I mentioned above, the 90s were a weird time for cartoons and The Tick’s story could use an update.
Today’s Tick isn’t the jovial idiot from the 90s. No, he needs to be the dark anti-hero with a troubled past, just like another costumed crime fighter. And like other costumed crime fighters, the Tick’s rogues gallery is full of deformed super villains, each having their own fucked up back story. Chairface Chippendale, the Tick’s main baddie, was a fierce swordsman and tried to engrave his name in the moon. Also, he has a chair for a face.
Chairface Chippendale’s back story would be familiar to most. As a young chair maker, he found himself in financial problems. A group of rogues talk him into breaking into a local varnish factory where he encounters a young Tick. Chippendale falls into a vat of molten oak, turning his face from a carpenter to the chair-faced villain. The mad man now forces the Tick into a multitude of moral and ethical dilemmas to prove the Tick is just like him.
The Politics of Doug And Game Of Thrones
Teenaged Doug Funnie tried his damnedest to woo the golden-skinned goddess Patty Mayonnaise, while avoiding his nemesis, Roger, at the same time. Any time Doug faced a challenge from his parents, teachers, or pimples, he’d run to his imagination instead of dealing with his problems first hand. When he’d come out of his daydream, the problem would magically be solved.
That was then. Today’s Doug would have more grit. The show had a plethora of characters, and that would lend itself well to a Game of Thrones type reboot. They’d need all the characters since the writer’s would pull a G.R.R. Martin and kill off whomever has a wedding that week. Outside of the violence, Doug lends itself well Westeros setting as both shows dealt with political turmoil, one in the middle ages and the other in high school.
Each character would represent different houses and we’d follow them all as they navigated the rough political landscape. There’d be satisfaction for the original Doug fans as well. Instead of trying to escape reality, Doug straight chops Roger’s Godzilla-green head off. Of course, that wouldn’t come around until season 7 (have to build up suspense).
Rocko The Drug Dealer
Rocko’s Modern life followed a wallaby who moved to an LSD loaded United States. Every episode seemed to put Rocko in a fatal situation. Hell, even laundry day turned into a dangerous adventure. Rocko suffered because his “buddy” Heffer, was a fucking idiot who didn’t understand consequences. Rocko kept Heffer around for unknown reasons. Maybe Rocko enjoyed the company or maybe he’d vent about the unsavory calls he’d get at work, a phone sex call center.
But that was an innocent wallaby just trying to make a living. Today’s Rocko, unlike the 90s, isn’t afraid of the danger knocking at his door since he is that danger. He’s the bad guy others should be afraid of. After being fired from the smut center, Rocko starts to sling crystal on the mean streets of wherever USA. Heffer, still the dumbass, is the front man. He’s the man with the street smarts, but still get’s Rocko and himself in trouble. Just like before, but this time Heffer’s the one on drugs, not the writers.
The Bigheads, the obnoxious frog neighbors, are still around in this drug fueled reboot. Ed Bighead is still a dick, but he’s a dick with the ATF. Bev still want’s Rocko’s Australian sausage, but now she wants that and access to Rocko’s huge pile of drug money.
Ren & Stimpy…A True Team
Nickelodeon’s Ren & Stimpy is the poster child of all fucked up 90s cartoons. While the aforementioned shows had their share of weird, Ren & Stimpy turned the weirdness knob all the way up, yanked it off, and sent it burn in the sun’s fiery center.
It wasn’t uncommon for episodes to be turned so far sideways, it made you physically uncomfortable. And those were the episodes that aired on both Nickelodeon and MTV.
The “Lost Episodes” were filled with visual gags implying they had a homosexual relationship. From the stories to the animation, this show had weirdness in spades and it owned it.
On top of the childish violence and silly fart jokes, the show wasn’t afraid to highlight obsession or insanity. It was creepy as a child, but as an adult, you see just how insane Ren was with the ice cream sandwiches in “Space Madness.”
And while there were gags hinting at Ren & Stimpy’s relationship, they were the exception and not the rule. The relationship did morph depending the story, but regardless they two were a team and it worked well together.
That’s why Ren & Stimpy, if it were remade today, should get the True Detective treatment. Insanity and madness wouldn’t be new to the cat and chihuahua. Depending on the episode, Ren would be drunk with power, just like Detective Hart got drunk with drinks. Stimpy collected nose goblins and Cole collected those Lone Star Beer men in the interrogation room.