Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel Good Omens was once deemed “unfilmable” given its absurdity but now it has been brought on screen as a six-part miniseries co-produced by Amazon Studios and BBC Studios. Good Omens proves to be a faithful adaptation of Pratchett and Gaiman’s work, building on the fascinating premise and retaining its whimsical humour on screen. It takes a comedic turn on the mythology of the birth of an Antichrist and coming of the end times, with an angel and a demon lurking around here and there.
The prophecy of an apocalypse and Armageddon, the final battle between heaven and hell, is about to come true with the birth of Adam, the son of Satan. Due to some mishandlings in a satanic convent, both the angel Aziraphale (played by Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (played by David Tennant) have lost track of Adam and must team up to find him and prevent the Final Judgement. The tale begins in the Garden of Eden, transcending history from Noah’s Ark to French Revolution to London Blitz in the Second World War. The duo, who has been fraternising for centuries on earth despite being on opposite sides, has taken a liking to mankind and attempts to save the world.
Multiple subplots complement the main storyline, and although out of place at times, manage to come together at the finale. First and foremost is the tale surrounding The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, starting from the burning of Agnes Nutter herself in the 17th century and her descendants up until the current witch Anathema Device inheriting her prophecies. The subplot of Adam being mixed up during his birth is interesting to begin with, but the scenes following Adam’s upbringing appear to be quite detached from the main arc and comes across as a little incoherent and unrealistic. The part concerning the summoning of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, although excellent all by themselves, do not fit into the overall palette of Good Omens.
This brings me to my main problem with the plot. Although all scenes are beautifully crafted out, they lack an inherent coherence. Additionally, certain subplots often pale in comparison to the main narrative and could have been fleshed out better. All in all, while the story remains delightfully entertaining, it leaves a little something to be desired.
For any TV show, the production set serves a crucial role in bringing the story to life. It is no different in Good Omens, especially given the range it covers historically and geographically. Thanks to the way the scenes are framed, an angel and a demon never feel out of place, as they simply hang around in different corners of London, be it in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or Aziraphale’s bookshop or St. James’s Park. But what really drew my attention is the way heaven and hell are depicted, with heaven taking the form of a modernised office in a skyscraper, while hell being a crowded basement lot where the sun never shines. This portrayal is one I never thought about, but it comes across as surprisingly accurate and theme-fitting. Creative takes are especially necessary for the fantasy genre, and Good Omens has definitely gone above and beyond in this arena.
All characters in Good Omens are wonderfully crafted and cast, especially for the leads Aziraphale and Crowley. The angel Aziraphale is an adorable, soft-spoken angel whom one cannot help but love, and the same goes for Crowley who is equally charming despite being a chaotic, tempting demon. Sheen captures the essence of Aziraphale’s personality perfectly, like a puff of fluffy cotton candy, and Tennant’s acting is absolutely on point and could not have been a better fit as the sarcastic demon that is Crowley. The chemistry between the two definitely makes the show, and any scenes with them are simply golden.
From the moment I clicked on the trailer and heard Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”, I had high expectations for Good Omens’s soundtrack, and it did not disappoint. Every scene with Crowley features Queen in the background, be it “Bohemian Rhapsody” as he picks up the son of Satan for the baby-swap bringing life to the lyrics “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”, or “Another One Bites the Dust” as Crowley falls into his own trap, or “We Will Rock You” as he drives his flaming Bentley. Queen’s rebellious, unique, borderline-devilish music fits Crowley’s edge and swagger. Who knew Good Omens and Queen were a match made in heaven?
All in all, I probably can’t help myself but continue to rewatch Good Omens every now and then just for Aziraphale and Crowley’s incandescent chemistry. (Plus, it’s a lot of fun spotting Sherlock easter eggs.) While the narrative could have been stronger, Sheen and Tennant’s chemistry is all the reason you need to watch this intoxicating, quirky, binge-worthy series.