As Amazon’s bombardment of beautiful advertising would suggest to newcomers, Good Omens centres around the odd-couple relationship between Crowley, a demon (David Tennant) and Aziraphale, an angel (Michael Sheen). Having become accustomed to the ways of Earth, and somewhat indifferent to the bureaucratic commands from above and below, their comfortable symbiosis of good and evil is disrupted by the herald of the apocalypse.
Crowley is handed the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Prince of This World and Lord of Darkness *exhales*, the baby Antichrist. With a baby swap planned with that of an important American ambassador (Nick Offerman, sans moustache), everything is in place for the child of Satan to one day destroy the world. But, eleven years later, when the time arrives, nothing happens. With just a week to go, and a decade of plans awry, a hurried effort to find the child and stop the End of Days commences.
For better or worse, the show is unapologetically a companion piece to the original 1990 novel, co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. With the former script writing to honour the latter, Good Omens is an uncompromising adaptation led by the third person narrative provided by Frances McDormand as God. Though her brilliant voiceover gives a strong opening reminiscent of the wry story-telling in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the continued narration is over-done. As the baby-swap lends itself to its card trick commentary, other character introductions like that of War’s – which could speak for themselves – are ridden of early suspense with the omnipresent clarifications. But, again, hearing so much of the witty prose included is gratifying, making this choice more of an acquired taste.
Still, the show goes above and beyond to develop Aziraphale and Crowley’s partnership throughout the centuries, particularly in episode three. This works both for readers eager to see more of them and for watchers, as the strength of the show lies in their chemistry, mirroring the original writing duo. Tennant saunters on-screen with his Tenth Doctor charisma, complemented by Sheen’s bumbling gullibility and charming faux pas, making their scenes together infinitely rewatchable. The corkboard of apocalypse agents is full of big names: Jon Hamm as the Archangel Gabriel, Nina Sosanya as Sister Mary Loquacious, Mirelle Enos as War and Benedict Cumberbatch as Satan. Adria Arjona’s Anathema Device is beautiful and sharp and though I was doomed to be a little disappointed in Newton Pulsifer (given Colin Morgan’s casting in the radio play) Jack Whitehall’s interpretation holds up despite his comedy persona. The diversity is appreciated, introducing God as a woman with black Adam and Eve in the first five minutes does wonders to ward off the far right. Other characters like Shadwell and Madame Tracey I’m yet to connect with, but bringing together such a range of talents builds a world that is heaps of fun to explore.
Having watched the first three episodes, this review is a first impression but my Aziraphale optimism highly recommends the show. Whatever your expectations, it is confidently whimsical, moves at an excellent pace, and has plenty of silly elements and Easter eggs to resurrect your emotions about Terry Pratchett.
Good Omens is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, and will be airing on BBC Two in approximately six months.
by Fatima Sheriff
Fatima is a third-year Biomed at the University of Sheffield. For insight into her personality, her favourite films are: Bright Star, Paddington 2, Taare Zameen Par and Pride & Prejudice and in 2017 she listened mostly to the Hidden Figures soundtrack. She loves TV shows with original concepts, witty writing, and diverse casting. Examples include Legion, Gravity Falls, and Sense 8. Her Twitter and TVShowTime are both @lafatimayette.