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Hey, all. "Moriarty" here. Looks like we're going to have a little bit of a wait for this one, as it's not set to appear until mid-season. Right now, I've heard from several people who have seen the pilot, and HERCULES THE STRONG is by far the most enthusiastic response I've heard yet. Some people have outright rejected the show and its sensibilities, which means that it's inspiring extreme reactions in both directions. Sounds interesting, at least, and I can't wait to get a peek m'self. Right now, I have to run. You see... MY MOUSTACHE IS TOUCHING MY BRAIN!!! Here's HERC!!

More good news. The new, live-action “Tick” is hilarious.

But let’s get this out of the way first: those who harbor great fondness for Fox’s ANIMATED superhero spoof featuring the same title and characters may need a few episodes to adjust to the fact that the Tick’s universe suddenly feels very scaled-down.

Though riotous, risky, and highly visual, the nature of this latest “Tick” incarnation places us firmly in the realm of live-action TV’s budgets and sets and actors. No tentacled aliens, no building-sized robots, no multi-headed supervillains (at least not yet). I love the way Arthur’s wings deploy and retract, but they don’t look like they could keep a gerbil aloft.

Yet I gladly forgive these faults -- because the Tick’s live-action debut made me laugh and laugh, and laugh and laugh some more. From the opening in which the title character mistakes a bus-stop vending machine for a supervillian -- to the “Mystery Men”-esque diner epilogue featuring three of the Tick’s fellow superheroes, the gags roll out at a Simpsonian clip, and there are an almost supernatural number of bullseyes. On its own terms, the pilot is a complete success.

The pilot script by Ben Edlund, who created and routinely penned both the comic and the animated series, boasts brilliant, brilliant souped-up dialogue as comedically adept as the cartoon’s very best moments; one can smell the blood and sweat that went into embroidering every minute of this half-hour.

Behold the superhero’s introductory monologue in the show’s first minutes, as he self-righteously confronts a malfuntioning coffee machine: “So, Vending Menace, we meet again! (The Tick tries pressing a few buttons, but is soon dashing the huge machine punishingly against the bus-station wall.) “Armless bandit! Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine men call coffee!! It has its price and that price has been paid!! (When the machine finally sprays out a cup of joe, the dim-but-wordy adventurer sets the machine down triumphantly.) Java Devil, you are now my bitch! (The Tick hands the cup to its now-wary purchaser.) Well, here you are, weary traveler, one steaming hot cup of justice! No need to thank me; it’s my duty to defend this bus station againt the ravages of evil!” (The customer nods and moves on.)

In these opening moments, actor Patrick Warburton makes the Tick wholly his own. He exhibits a comic fearlessness worthy of an Adam Sandler or a Bill Murray, and one can only wonder which big-chinned hulk would have been the producers’ second choice had the man who played Puddy on “Seinfeld” (and voiced Superman in Seinfeld’s American Express ads) not availed himself of the role.

If one excludes “Get Shorty,” the “Tick” pilot may manifest the best directorial work of Barry Sonnenfeld’s career. The helmer clearly understands what makes “The Tick” tick, and the performances he elicits from his players – Warburton, David Burke as Arthur, Sonnenfeld vet Christopher Lloyd as Arthur’s boss, “Maximum Bob’s” stunning Liz Vassey as Captain Liberty and “Suddenly Susan’s” Nestor Carbonell as Batmanuel – deliver performances longtime “Tick” fans are sure to embrace.

Sonnenfeld’s work on the “Tick” pilot, happily, feels more the work of the cinematographer behind “Raising Arizona” and “Miller’s Crossing” than that of the producer-director who gave us “Men in Black” and “Wild Wild West.” The camerawork is, appropriately, highly-stylized and evocative of the comic books that spawned the big latex-clad nimrod.

And the live-action series will offer at least one major visual improvement over its animated predecessor: wait till you see how articulate and versatile the Tick’s antennae are! Those cranial appendages may end up generating more laughs than Batmanuel and Captain Liberty put together.

The bad news: where can Fox hope to find a compatible half-hour for a work this original?

The worse news: we’ll have to wait seven months to find out. “The Tick” is not slated to hit the Fox airwaves until mid-season.

It’ll be worth the wait. “The Tick” is a treat.

I warn you not to spoon!

I am – Hercules!!

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