The new Amazon series “The Tick” is funny and absurdist, and the process of interviewing its stars played out in the exact same way.
Things began routinely, with a question about how well Peter Serafinowicz, who plays the big blue crime fighter, and Griffin Newman, who plays his nebbish sidekick Arthur, knew the franchise.
“I was a big fan,” Newman says of previous iterations of The Tick, which have included a live-action show starring Patrick Warburton, an animated series, toy lines and lots of comics. “I got in through the Warburton show when that was airing. And then when that was canceled far too prematurely I got into the cartoon from there. And the comics I hadn’t really delved into until I started auditioning for the role.”
Serafinowicz knew of the character, but that’s about it.
“I knew it was like a funny superhero parody,” he says, “but other than that I didn’t know anything about it.”
At that point, things got a little bit strange. First, Serafinowicz asked who played Arthur in the first live action show (David Burke).
Then Newman throws out this trivia question: Who was the original voice of Arthur in the cartoon?
The answer happens to be Micky Dolenz. You know, of The Monkees.
This nugget of information set off a back and forth about things completely unrelated to “The Tick,” which starts streaming Friday on Amazon.
“Can we make this interview about The Monkees now?” Newman asks. Sure.
“You’re from Daydream Believer Magazine, yeah?” Serafinowicz quips. I wish.
We talk about Michael Nesmith and his hats, and then Serafinowicz segues into a favorite background gag from the short-lived TV precursor to “The Naked Gun” from 1982 called “Police Squad!”
“It’s a shop on the street, Army Hats. It says Military Millinery,” he recounts to a round of laughter.
Finally, things got back on track. But before getting back into the show at hand, some background: Newman’s Arthur is a mild-mannered account, who was a witness to a horrible crime as a child and has grown up to believe that a major criminal long thought dead, The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) is still kicking around. He eventually teams up with The Tick and lands his very own costume.
Serafinowicz didn’t want to talk about life in The Tick costume. (“Could I have another question please?).
But he was much more pleased to talk about filming the series — set in a locale called The City — in NYC.
“Much better question,” Serafinowicz says. “We did film the whole show in New York City, which is great because New Yorkers are so unfazed by anything. They’ve seen so much. To be out on the streets of Harlem, wearing full superhero costumes, and people would just sort of walk by going, ‘Hey, Tick. How’s it going?’”
Newman jumps in, and adds, “I remember when we were in Harlem, we did also get a lot of people saying, ‘Hey! It’s the Tick. You’re my favorite,’’ he says. “It gave me an indication of how popular and beloved the character is.”
Streaming: “The Tick” airs on Amazon on Friday.