I like Neil Gaiman’s writings. I won’t say that I love them but I did read the Sandman comics and I thought most of the stories were very inventive. I also like Terry Pratchett’s works, even though I have never read a single book he’s written. However, I do vaguely remember playing the Discworld text adventure sometime and I liked it fine. I did think the world was incredibly imaginative and the way the story was written stood out from other text adventures.
It turns out the two have collaborated on a book before called Good Omens, a very successful book at that. So, when Amazon Prime decided to make the book into a six-episode miniseries, I was intrigued. The plot of an angel and a demon trying to prevent the Apocalypse by stopping the Anti-Christ because they’ve grown accustomed to life on Earth is a brilliant idea for a story. What made everything more intriguing was who were cast to play the main characters: David Tennant and Michael Sheen. These guys are really good actors and having them together was definitely something to be excited about. So I decided to give Amazon Prime a trial run just so I can watch Good Omens.
Boy, am I glad I did!
Okay, you can already tell that I like Good Omens, but how much did I really like it? Well, you’ll have to read on but, if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in luck. This is going to a SPOILER FREE review.
Good Omens in, basically, about Crowley and Aziraphale, with the former being a demon and the latter an angel. They have been put on Earth by their respective “teams” and try to steer people to their “side.” Unbenknownst to both Heaven and Hell, both Crowley and Aziraphale have actually become close friends. When the Anti-Christ is placed into the world, they then decide to team up to prevent the Son of Satan from starting Armageddon as, well, they both like their lives on Earth. However, as both the forces of Heaven and Hell are just aching for the Apocalypse to happen, Crowley and Aziraphale will have to their work cut out for them, won’t they?
Actually, that summary is a little on the thin side as, while that is generally the main focus of the story, there’s a whole lot going on in Good Omens. There are a lot of side stories, such as the Anti-Christ living and enjoying a normal life as he’s blissfully unaware that he’s destined to lead the world to destruction, the summoning of the Four Horsemen by mail, the rather sad story of a failed computer technician who joins a witch hunter’s squad and, my personal favorite, the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter book and the witch family who used these predictions to make themselves rich. Each of these stories would make a good miniseries of their own. Well, maybe not the one about the witch hunters. That’s the weakest one. But the rest? They’re actually really good, especially the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter bits.
These seemingly disparate story threads don’t really feel connected at the start. In fact, some of them are introduced abruptly right in the middle of the miniseries. Yet, they’re all worked into this massive storyline involving the end of the world and, by the end, they just gel and congeal into something that does fit in right well. Suffice to say, Good Omens is well written and paced really nicely. I do wish they did spend a little more time on a couple of the subplots as, like I said, they felt like they could make for a grand story on their own.
As good as those side stories are, it’s the duo of Crowley and Aziraphale that is the highlight of Good Omens. A lot of it has to do with David Tennant and Michael Sheen’s performances as the demonic Crowley and the angelic Aziraphale, respectively. Their both charming in their own way and the two have just great chemistry on screen. It also helps that both of them are written in very clever ways and how well they have adapted to man’s ways. There’s this one scene where two demons were explaining their plans of corrupting a priest and a politician by implanting evil thoughts into them and how it’ll take them either months or years for their souls to belong to Satan. Crowley then counters that he simply wrecked London’s mobile network, which will put everyone at each other’s throats. I actually laughed out loud here because of how simple yet effective his plan is!
That’s not to say that the supporting cast aren’t good. In fact, I can’t really see a weak link with anyone in Good Omens. John Hamm’s Archangel Gabriel is hilarious as he’s just the boss that thinks he knows what best when he actually doesn’t. The kid who plays the Anti-Christ is fantastic as he has to play innocent and naive and then switch things up later on. Adria Arjona is cute and charming as Agnes Nutter’s last descendant and tasked with identifying and stopping the Anti-Christ. Michael McKean’s bumbling and dim-witted Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell is also good… but when isn’t Michael McKean not good? But the performance that stands out is Frances McDormand as God. You don’t see her as she just narrates the story for the most part and doesn’t appear at all in the miniseries. But her delivery of all her lines is just so dry and perfect. Still, everyone is really good here and a tour de force in acting.
Good Omens is also incredibly funny but I do have to warn you that it may be a brand of humor that’s not for everyone. A lot of the jokes are really dry and deadpan here. There’s not a lot of physical humor and the show doesn’t wait for you, in a sense. It’ll move onto the next joke and doesn’t care if you got the previous one or not. It’s very… British. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Also, a lot of the humor is satirical and somewhat dark in nature, especially in the religious sense. It does poke fun at some of the weird things about religion, specifically the Catholic religion. It’s not offensive to me as they do come off more like observations on the inconsistencies in the Bible’s teachings. But I can’t speak for everyone and there may be some who may feel insulted by some of these observations.
Oh, I do have to talk about they music here as well. They use a lot of really popular tunes in Good Omens, specifically Queen songs. It may seem weird but, from what I’ve researched, it’s actually an inside joke for people who read the book. Still, it’s Queen so it’s hard to get mad at the band selection. However, I do have to mention the opening credits: I love it. It just gets you in the proper mood and sets the tone of the absurdist comedy that you’re going to watch.
Good Omens is, well, good. I’m really glad Amazon Prime put together this miniseries and it actually made me want to pick up a copy of the book. That’s saying a lot. The acting, especially from David Tennant and Michael Sheen is worth the price of admission. I do recommend giving this a watch but I can’t help but feel some of you will be turned off by how “British” the show is. Still, I enjoyed it so I am strongly recommending it.
Have you seen Good Omens? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!