Friday (TV) Review: Good Omens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We recently finished watching this six part adaptation of the Terry Prachett/Neil Gaiman book of the same name. I am currently reading the book, also, so this will be my impression of the TV show without the full knowledge of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series. It was funny, intelligent, sly, irreverent, and more. The script was adapted by Neil Gaiman, who has other TV series scripts to his credit (including Dr. Who) so it was done by someone who understands both print and TV, and is more than familiar with the original work. I have heard that this is something Terry wanted before he died, and it was nice to see it come to be even if posthumously.

For those unfamiliar, the story concerns the End Times. Armageddon. The Final Battle. The time when the Antichrist arises and begins the ultimate war between Good (Heaven) and Evil (Hell), resulting in the destruction of everything and everyone. The demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have been on Earth for over six thousand years, each supposedly doing their job of inspiring good or inciting evil. In reality, they have both come to enjoy their life here and have come to a sort of arrangement by which they do what is needed to keep their respective sides happy and go on their own merry ways. But Crowley has been tasked with delivering the Antichrist to Earth as an infant so that in eleven years time, he will come into his powers and begin the End. But neither Crowley or Aziraphale really want to see the End. And so they plan…

The adaptation is quite good, even without having read the entire book as yet. It has some touches that I can see being Gaiman, with the madcap sort of Douglas Adams-ish humor that comes from Prachett. Lots of things are left out, but we do only have six episodes to tell an entire story, and so, like many things, this is pared down a bit to the essence of the story. I have to say that at the end, I didn’t think anything was missing.

Casting was brilliant. David Tenant as Crowley is fantastic. He has just the right bit of self-assured confidence that a demon should, and he is quite good at portraying the sneaky sort of devilish convincing you would expect from, well, a devil. Michael Sheen’s Aziraphale is lovely. He puts on the perfect “oh, dear” wringing-of-the-hands personality without it getting overbearing or tiresome. And they play off each other so well that the unlikely bond between angel and demon is quite believable. The rest of the cast is just as well-suited to their roles. Frances McDormand as the voice of God is a lovely touch, as is Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of Satan.

Settings are drawn well, with the dark, moody demonic worlds offset by the almost sterile atmosphere of the heavenly realm. And both are contrasted by the rather normal Earth parts, whether London or the more rural Tadfield.

It was a very well done adaptation and I think Terry would be (is) proud. If you enjoy either Prachett or Gaiman (or both), Douglas Adams style humor, and a bit of an irreverent treatment of Heaven v. Hell, this six part Amazon original series should have you laughing in delight.

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