Good Omens, the adaptation of a novel from 1990, whose authors have been trying to take it to the big screen since 2010, finally got announced in 2017 and came out in May 2019.
Considering that the authors of the original novel (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) have been trying to create an adaptation for almost 30 years, it’s no surprise that the Amazon Prime Video miniseries “shoots for the stars”.
The story is about a demon and an angel who, after being tasked to watch over the Antichrist (the being that will bring the end of the world) decide to work together to prevent the Armageddon and the war between Heaven and Hell. One small problem though: they have lost the Antichrist.
The incredible cast sees as the leads David Tennant (as the demon Crawley) Michael Sheen (as the angel Aziraphale), and brings stars like Jon Hamm (who plays the creepiest angel I’ve ever seen), comedian Jack Whitehall (as a witch hunter), and Frances McDormand (as the voice of God).
Tennant and Sheen have all the chemistry you would expect from two ethereal beings who have known each other for more than 6000 years. Their relationship though is more than trading jokes and offering each other and helping hand in hard times.
The angel and demon dynamic makes it possible for the audience to see that, despite the difference in appearance and mannerism, those two characters can work together because they share the same values.
Neither of them wants to see the world end or people uselessly suffer… yes, even the demon is not a fan of people suffering.
Hastur: “Today, I have tempted a priest.”
Ligur: “I have corrupted a politician.”
Crowley: “You’ll like this. I have brought down every London area mobile phone network tonight”– Good Omens, episode 1
During the course of the story, we see them slowly changing and learning from each other: the angel understand that breaking the rules is sometimes necessary, while the demon realizes that he wants to fight to defend the ones he cares about.
I have to say though that despite being a well-orchestrated cast of characters, everyone except Crowley and Aziraphale is as deep as a puddle.
We don’t get to see much about the ideology of the other characters and any change to their personality is not achieved through a character arc, but rather it’s similar to a sudden “change of heart”.
Good Omens is a comedy that gains strength thanks to its load of surreal humor.
Every episode includes either an explosion, a miracle, a demonic intervention or at least one of Agnes Nutter’s incredibly accurate predictions.
What makes Good Omens different from other series who use a similar type of surreal humor is the fact that this series’ gags revolve around surprisingly relatable situations.
For example, this bit of dialogue plays with the fact that people tend to try their hardest to keep a calm and controlled facade when confronted with situations they cannot explain:
God: “There are some things that are very difficult to say. What R. P. Tyler truly wants to say is:”
R. P. Tyler: “Your car is on fire!!!”
God: “But he can’t. I mean, the man must know mustn’t he? So he says…”
R. P. Tyler: “Might have taken the wrong turn. Signpost blown down. Easy mistake to make. So, second on the right…”– Good Omens, episode 5
I have to say though that sometimes the great number of gags creates problems with the pacing.
In the first and second episode, in particular, there are so many moments in which the narrative simply stops to leave room to a few minutes of Monty Python style comedy that doesn’t advance the story in any way, only to get back to the same scene once the gag is over.
The dialogue seems to be the only weak point of the series because it’s not bad, but not good either.
Most of the things that the characters say are either wordplay:
“Satan, give me strength!”– Good Omens, episode 1
Or a reference to Biblical stories/pop culture interpretation of a certain element of the Christian religion:
Crowley [in front of Noah’s Arc]: “Oy Shem! That unicorn is gonna make a run for it. Oh… no, it’s too late. Too late!”– Good Omens, episode 3
This makes the dialogue in the series funny when a joke is being said, but plain and not really noteworthy when something else is happening.
But I say that the dialogue is not bad because it’s not unrealistic, everything a character says fits into his/her personality and is not robotic or cringe-worthy (like in other infamous series such as Riverdale).
Basically, the characters are either being hilarious, delivering exposition, or thinking out loud. It’s not something that kills the enjoyment for an audience, but it doesn’t make the series memorable either.
Despite the fact that during the promotion of the series both actors and writers have been describing it as “crazy” and “unpredictable”, Good Omens manages to be grounded in reality through its theme: environmental consciousness.
The first clue that the health of the planet would be a key aspect of the story lies in the fact that one of the 4 Horsemen, named Pestilence, has been replaced by Pollution (makes sense since… you know… the plague is not much of a threat anymore while pollution kinda is).
The second clue is delivered by Mr. cuteness the Anti-Christ himself. When Adam discovers the environmental impact of nuclear energy, pollution, and indiscriminate hunting, he gets angry and vows to “replace this world with a better one”, thus bringing us closer to Armageddon.
Other themes explored by the show are the righteousness of following dogma, belief or disbelief in conspiracy theories/myths, and destiny.
Is Good Omens worth watching?
Good Omens is a series worth your time if you love the exploration of complex themes mixed with humor that comments on our time and our view of the Christian religion.
It’s not groundbreaking, but if you want to have a laugh, question whether God has an “ineffable” plan or not, learn how to become an Apple shareholder thanks to your great-great-great grandma’s prediction book, or find out more about the Lord of Darkness and his doggie; this series is perfect for you.
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