After twenty-nine long years, finally, FINALLY, we have our Good Omens screen adaptation. And it's everything we hoped and dreamed it would be.
Though I have tried to look at the TV series on its own merits I invariably compare it to the book in a lot of this review. So, warning for moderate spoilers ahead if you’ve not read the book or seen the series! f you have read the book, then I have avoided all series related spoilers.
I'm going to say straight away that I absolutely adored this series. It completely lived up to my expectation and then some.
As is fitting the styles of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens is suitably wacky, surreal and dripping with dry humour.
The series kept to the book in virtually every respect hitting every major story beat, staying faithful to character development and rocking and every key scene.
Before the series even launched I was eying Twitter, where people were discussing their favourite scenes with the hopes that they would appear. From Aziraphale and Crowley getting hammered after the baby swap to Crowley's house plants. As far as I can see, every beloved fan favourite moment makes an appearance.
Aziraphale and Crowley
As in the book, the standout characters are Arizaphle and Crowley played by Michael Sheen and David Tennant. Each fully commits to their roles; Michael Sheen as the intelligent if bumbling, good-natured angel. David Tennant as the louche, cynical, more wheedling than an evil demon. Tennant struck me as doing a pretty good Bill Nighy impression. Though I've also seen it described as Mick Jagger.
And maybe inevitably, in the wake of our post-modernist revolution (or rather rehabilitation) of bad guys, Crowley has some additional scenes lamenting his ‘fall’ than I remember him having in the book.
The only part of the series I will willingly say was better than the book (gasp) was the time put into building out the - let’s face it, bro-romance - between the angel and the demon. Consequently, episode three 'Hard Times', is perhaps my favourite episode. It gives us an overview of their developing relationship over the centuries.
In fact, along with these vignettes, the story now ends with a new conclusion which nicely rounds off the pair's story. I greatly approve.
Though, let's be clear - on principle if nothing else, the book is still better. But... damn this series is a very close second.
Another new aspect I really enjoyed was the spy thriller-esque aspects of Aziraphale and Crowley’s jobs on Earth. Each as an agent of their respective indifferent forces/head offices, they find they have more in common with their opposite number than their own people. This is touched on briefly in the book but is much more apparent in the series.
They also bulked out the angel and demon population making the conflict between heaven and hell seem much more real. The addition of John Hamm as Gabriel was just glorious. Okay, so I am a big John Hamm fan. But if you're leaning into the spy/big corporation idea of the novel, he was a perfect representation of your overly jovial, oblivious and dickish boss.
This is a truly unfair criticism and speaks more to my cult-like obsession with the Good Omen's book, but was Anathema Device always American? Given her name is very old English I had always been under the assumption that she was English.
Maybe I only saw her in this way as she is a very Pratchett character. The book version has many parallels with some of my other favourite fictional role models from the Discworld. For example, Susan Sto Helit and Agnes Nitt (not to be confused with Anges Nutter).
While I can totally see why she could be American and why if you want anything to sell in America you need American characters, it’s still not exactly the way I imagined her.
All in all, I was likely to be the harshest critic if this had gone wrong. There are some books you simply cannot mess with, even if it’s one of the authors themselves during the messing. Welcome to my blog - I'm big believer of death of the author.
But I was never really worried. Neil Gaiman is one of the most talented creators of our times. He treated Good Omens and its fans with the respect they deserve. So yeah, I absolutely loved this series and you should expect more posts about it in the fullness of time!
On a side note, the advertising for this series has been pretty impressive. Below are just some of the posters I saw around London leading up to the air date.