Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video is Good Omens, the miniseries based on the eponymous book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. There’s only one word to describe Good Omens, and that word is perfect. Amazon Prime Video released their co-venture with the BBC directly to Amazon Prime on May 31st, much to the delight of those familiar with the work. The series is produced by the book’s original co-author Neil Gaiman and Director Douglas McKinnon.
On the surface, Good Omens is a hilarious apocalypse story of an Angel (Michael Sheen of Frost/Nixon) and a Demon (David Tennant of Doctor Who) trying to prevent a young Anti-Christ from coming into his powers and destroying the world. There are hellish minions, heavenly hosts, four apocalyptic motorcycle enthusiasts, and quite a few cameos by long-forgotten telephone land lines. Witches and Witch Finders abound as they are lead by the prophecies of the deceased Agnes Nutter, who is both nice and accurate.
Underneath all the hilarity, Good Omens is a story about choosing between compassion and conformity. It’s about sharing love, growing up, and most importantly friendship. Eventually one becomes those qualities really are only weapons humans have or will ever have against the end of the world.
By the end of the six-episode miniseries one finds themselves laughing away the tears from moments before. Some of the dialogue has been slightly modernized, but less than one would expect. Pepper delivers a highly relevant line. “So you’re mad a bunch of adults messed up the world, but that doesn’t mean you should destroy it, that means you should fix it.” For those familiar with the work of both authors it rings true, and calls to generations yet to come.
If you don’t find yourself deeply moved by Good Omens, sadly you’re just a tourist in this world of geekery. It’s okay, you can become a citizen soon, but first you should understand why this series might bring a tear or two. The story of Good Omens is one of friendship and loss, maturity, and love’s triumph over death, and that’s just how it got into pre-production.
The history of this tale is unique as it is the only collaborative effort between two modern masters, Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. Most notably it was a work heightened by the incredible friendship between the two. Good Omens was first published in book form way back in 1990. As both Gaiman and Pratchett gained notoriety in the world literature, a film and/or television adaptation of their collaboration seemed a logical next step.
Initially Good Omens was planned as a co-production between the two. Gaiman is an experienced screenwriter and Pratchett was known to “muck about” on a film set or two. But, Sadly Sir Terry Pratchett passed away in 2015. Fans of his work still mourn the loss of the heroic writer, and will do so for quite some time. Sir Terry was best known for his 41-book Discworld novels. For many years Pratchett was England’s best selling author, was knighted for his literary achievements.
Gaiman, the creator of American Gods and the Sandman graphic novels, has spoken publicly many times of his love and respect for his deceased friend and fellow author. The world lost both a brilliant mind and a dedicated pacifist with the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett. He had a common sense view of the world that showed a human element to even the most seemingly inhuman creatures. Both writers create stories that question our common sense, and display the strength of human kindness in an otherwise bizarre world.
The show itself reflects something beautifully British as both it’s authors have a passion and deep bonds to London. As such it displays a wonderful bit of London landmarks. Many that are off the beaten path and a reasonable distance from the typical tourist traps. One gets a sense of not only what London is, but what it is in the hearts of those who love the grand old city. The English countryside is promptly displayed with all the glory that one pictures from a gothic romance.
The casting is remarkably appropriate. The leads are Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, David Tennant as Crowley, Adria Arjona as Anathema Device, Jack Whitehall as Newton Pulsifer. Impressively the supporting cast holds up remarkably well. War played by Mireille Enos kills as the popular character, while Adam Young seems to wander directly out of the pages of the book.
Adria Arjona delivers an ideal performance as Anthema Device. As the sole heir and inheritor of Agnes Nutter’s Nice and Accurate Proficiency’s she is the only one who seems to have an idea what’s going on, well…sort of. Jack Whitehall, as Newton Pulsifer an the unemployed IT technician turned Witch-finder, must fulfill his family’s destiny of ending the threat of witches, well…sort of.
Meanwhile, after a bit of shuffling and a drag scene or two, a couple of babies get swapped. The four horseman of the apocalypse gather. The Anti-Christ grows up with the potential of disappointing both heaven and hell, who are just itching for a war to end all wars.
But of course the comedic chemistry between Tennant and Sheen is unparalleled. Their scenes have a timing and energy that is reminiscent of comedy masters Abbot and Costello. But there’s a sensitivity brought to both roles, that shows the range of the actors. The relationship between demon and angel can be interpreted as either platonic or sexual depending on the viewer’s preference. Both Tennant and Sheen masterfully leave their relationship completely private and ambiguous, and thus entirely their own. While the book didn’t seem to express anything more than a platonic relationship, McKinnon uses this to express a powerful point. A person’s sexuality is their own business, and no one else’s.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Good Omens is one of the most fantastic adaptations to ever grace the screen. No matter your interest in the production or the history behind it, the message of Good Omens is a universal one. “The people we least expect come into our lives and become a part of those lives. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they disappear to soon. But they change who we are and what we think we should be, or could be, forever. …..And Maybe, just maybe, because life and friendships are rare and precious we shouldn’t go around ending the world just because some people at some point thought it might be a good idea.” The entire miniseries is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and much like all Prime Originals, is free with Prime. Do yourself a favor and go watch this one. – 9.0/10
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine