What is Good Omens?
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch started as a book, first published in 1990, and written by the amazing duo of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s rather beloved by fans of both writers. Now, it has been made into a 6-episode mini-series that will be available on Amazon Prime on May 31, 2019 (it will also apparently run on network TV in the UK).
What’s it about?
It’s about the arrival of the Anti-Christ, the looming end of the world, an angel who likes rare books, and a demon who drives a Bentley. Also, there are a couple of witches, a whole lot of strangely accurate prophecies, and a very good dog (which is redundant).
That all sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it?
Yes, yes it is. Indeed, it is silly and wonderful in the best tradition of silly British books and shows. There’s quite a bit of Hitchhiker’s Guide and Monty Python-style absurdist humor here (Terry Gilliam was once attached to make it as a movie), and of course Pratchett himself was rather appreciated for his humor.
So, do I need to have read the book to appreciate the show?
Quite wonderfully no. My wife, who has her own geek passions, had not read the book before sitting down with me to watch the advance screeners I was sent. That didn’t matter one whit. She loved it. I mean, she LOVED it. She asked whether there was going to be a second season by the end of the second episode (no news on that, it would seem unlikely since there was only one book, but it is called Season 1 on the website). By the end, she was all happy and sad at the same time, because she had so enjoyed it, but it had come to an end.
Well, I’ve read the book; will I enjoy it?
Oh yes. As I watched it (having re-read the book only a month ago just because I knew it was coming – not the screeners, those were a complete surprise), I kept giggling and smiling and laughing because it was all SO GOOD and kept SO MUCH of the book intact. The dialog is so familiar and enjoyable. And yet, there’s more! There is some added stuff that fleshes out relationships and activities that were not in the book, but it all works, because Gaiman actually wrote the screenplays for the whole thing.
How about the casting?
Here’s the thing: when you read a book, you get mental pictures of how the characters look, both from the authors’ descriptions, as well as your own perspectives and ideas. For me, the casting of Good Omens brought mine to life. David Tenant and Michael Sheen are not only perfect as Crowley and Aziraphale (the demon and angel, respectively), their work together is enchanting. You totally believe that they’ve known each other for 6,000 years. Michael McKean and Miranda Richardson play off each other delightfully, and Sam Taylor Buck as the young Anti-Christ is spot-on for the intelligence and intensity he brings. Everyone else is quite fun, including turns by Nick Offerman as a US Ambassador, and John Hamm as the Angel Gabriel.
Is it appropriate for kids?
While it’s rated TV-MA, I really don’t think it was too mature. I can see kids enjoying it, starting as young as older tweens (a lot of it might go over younger kids’ heads). While there are one or two pieces of PG language, and some indicated sex, none of it is graphic. If you’ve read the book, you should be able to judge. And you know your kids best, of course.
Is there anything you didn’t like about it?
Not really. I will note that there is more… American-ness to this version, likely due to it being funded by an American company hoping for a bit more American appeal. And, of course, Neil Gaiman lives in the US now (which he didn’t when he co-wrote the book). So some of those changes might be a tad jarring to fans of the original text. But they are little differences in what is really an astounding bit of adaptation.
Is there anything you particularly loved about it?
Again, Tennant and Sheen are simply magnificent. Also, the theme song (and all its variations used throughout the series) will get stuck in your head (written by David Arnold, who has some other very geeky credentials in his career). And just the fact that this is one of those adaptations that fans of an original book will be giddy over. It’s all there!