GOOD OMENS: Wicked, Angelic, and Practically Perfect
This post contains mild spoilers for Good Omens.
“Stuff happened. Lost me best friend.”
When Neil Gaiman sat down with fans at last year’s San Deigo Comic Con, he was asked what the hardest part of adapting Good Omens had been. As a man who loves his friends deeply, and a little bit of a bastard, he said without hesitation that it was doing it without Terry Pratchett. It seems fitting, then, that Amazon’s Good Omens would be a perfect love letter to his and his late friend’s novel.
If you have the right copy, you can read Gaiman and Pratchett going back and forth about the other, discussing how brilliant their friend is, as well as the fact that they couldn’t tell you who wrote which parts if they tried. Reading this is almost like hearing what it would be like to hear what Crowley and Aziraphale would say about each other in secret. I bring that up to help you understand the heart that David Tennant and Michael Sheen bring into their respective roles.
They couldn’t be more different, Crowley and Aziraphale. And yet they both have just enough of the right stuff. Tennant’s Crowley exhibiting just a little bit of good, and Sheen’s Aziraphale being a little bit of a bastard results in a perfect cocktail of friendly rivalry that’s secretly just straight-up friendship. The two are the shining stars of the series, just as they should have been, but everything else about these short six episodes is nearly just as lovely.
Adria Arjona pulls Anathema Device right out of the pages. Meanwhile, Adam Young (Sam Taylor Buck) and The Them have all the right stuff. The angels and the demons all look the part, with Jon Hamm killing us all in his purple contacts as the bitchy Gabriel. War (Mireille Enos), Death (Brian Cox), Pollution (Laurdes Faberes) and Famine (Yusuf Gatewood) are each picture-perfect, and their face-off with The Them holds every bit of weight that it should. And obviously there’s never been anything more perfect than Frances McDormand as God.
Adaptations often struggle with balancing something new while paying enough homage to the source material to please. It's hard to think of a book-to-screen series that’s done it better than Good Omens. It’s beautiful, heartfelt, and has a lot of exactly what the whole of humanity needs to hear at this very second. When we’re going through time with Crowley and Aziraphale, the demon asks the angel what Jesus did to piss the humans off to the point of crucifixion. The answer was simple: he told us to be kind to one another. Topical.
That social relevance is a big deal, too. Good Omens had a lot to say when it was released back in 1990. Those messages have only gotten more relevant as time passed. The series leans into that, but not in a pushy manner that might turn some viewers off. “I believe in peace, bitch” is certainly an all-timer, though.
As a little bit of a purist asshole, I usually walk away from adaptions wanting more out of them. I’m delighted to report that Good Omens hits every beat. Everything that should have remained the same, did. Everything that should have been expanded on or adjusted for the times, was. It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, the fx look lovely, and I simply don’t have enough good things to say about it. Really my only complaint is that Gaiman doesn’t do sequels. Though there was the tiniest, teensiest little tease about a future war, it seems unlikely that he’d break that rule now. In the meantime, a nightingale really did sing in Berkeley Square.
By now, most of you have undoubtedly gobbled up all six episodes as quickly as we did. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!