I’ve always thought of the co-authored book, Good Omens, as a wonderful peculiarity in an already peculiar world: it’s beloved by many and how people find it is either by way of adoring Terry Pratchett’s whimsy and flair for fantasy comedy, or by being a hashtag sad boi who loved Nail Gaiman’s Sandman and finding your way to it through Gaiman. (A smaller subset are the readers who find copies the rest of us leave on park benches for people to stumble across.)
It shouldn’t take readers long to guess which of the above I am, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Amazon’s adaptation of Good Omens since its announcement with excitement that quickly turned into profound trepidation. I’m sorry, but everything about it that was coming out through production sneak peeks and announcements seemed too perfect. The casting of David Tennant and Michael Sheen as the demon Crowley and angel Aziraphale? Jon Hamm as the Archangel Gabriel? Frances McDormand as the voice of God herself? Brian Cox as DEATH?!
Sorry, but in 2019 things aren’t supposed to come together this beautifully, and yet… this did. Good Omens is an absolute delight for fans of the book, or anyone who enjoys the kind of light comedy/satirical fantasy Pratchett, Gaiman, and even Christopher Moore deliver skillfully (no, Moore has nothing to do with it, but he’s very much in the same oeuvre).
The show is beautifully shot, tightly directed and faithful enough to the source material, but the one major exception is one of the better running jokes from the book. As term for allowing their music in the show, Queen required the joke that Crowley’s car turns all tapes into Queen’s greatest hits be edited out. So, rather than the music in his car being a fun Hell gag, it’s just that Crowley is a fan of Queen now… Okay, whatever.
Tennant seems to be channeling a decent amount of Kilgrave from Season 1 of Jessica Jones, but without the gaslighting rapist aspect of the Marvel villain Crowley is a character you can legitimately love. His counterpart, Aziraphale played by Michael Sheen is positively delightful. Sheen brings just the right amount of charm and sweetness to the angel without being overly saccharine, and the friendship between the unlikely pair feels like the firmest core for the series and story, as it should be.
This makes sense because Good Omens is a story about friendships, about how true friendships make us all better. From an angel and a demon, to a Witch finder and a Witch, all the way to the Anti-Christ and the other children from his sleepy England town.
As varied as the character types I listed above are, Good Omens astonished me with its casting throughout: from the simple choices for non-speaking roles of Adam and Eve, to the four horsemen (not just Brian Cox), to Adria Arjona as Anathema Device (a character I loved so much already from Good Omens that I named a city after her in Drawful the Awful). As someone on Twitter put it: create an Emmy award for Casting and give it to this show.
There’s just so much that this show gets right, from each actor’s absolute perfection at their roles, the timing, the fun and whimsy. It’s brilliant and I don’t think there’s a book adaptation I can think of that quite matches this amount of sheer love and appreciation of the source material’s story, humor, characters and heart.
I could gush more, but I’ll end it here with a very simple endorsement to watch this one. It’s 6 short episodes that you’ll love, and wish that there were somehow more adventures of Crowley and Aziraphale to witness. We’re not so lucky for that, but we already hit the jackpot with this spectacular mini-series.