Good Omens was one of the formative books in my life. It was one of those life-changing books that feels like a familiar blanket, warm and comforting, along with unexplored territory. Every time I read it, I see something new about it to love. Needless to say, I was a little bit worried about the television adaptation of this book. As it turns out, I really didn’t have anything to fear. Would I call it perfect? Well, no, but I would call it something special.
The six-episode series follows angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) as they try to prevent the Apocalypse by finding the lost Anti-Christ, Adam Young (Sam Taylor Buck). It was a simplistic boil down of a wonderfully absurd story with twists and turns all over the place, filled with a charming cast. While it doesn’t always work, it’s an interesting watch.
Though, let’s be real, this show was going to sink or swim based on the performances of Sheen and Tennant. Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship is the cornerstone of the book. If the series didn’t get it right, then it was going to fail. Sheen and Tennant do. They’re perfectly cast and bring the characters to life in the most amazing ways possible. Not only that, their chemistry onscreen is electric. You believe that these two have known each other since the beginning of time.
The third episode of the season gives us, perhaps, the longest cold open in history. It’s about 30 minutes and depicts Crowley and Aziraphale throughout the ages. It. Is. Brilliant. It brings something fans of the book always wanted to see, adding to the source material, and keeping true to the spirit of the novel. It’s amazing. One of my favorite parts of the six-episode series.
Other things that are excellent, the cast as stated. Jon Hamm is deliciously smarmy as the Archangel Gabriel. Sam Taylor Buck has Adam’s humanistic personality. Adria Ajorna should be on everyone’s watchlist as Anathema Device, who she plays pitch perfectly. I can go on, but the gist is that the series has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a while. It’s clear a lot of effort went into it and it should be applauded.
Neil Gaiman, who co-wrote the book with the late Sir Terry Pratchett and wrote the series, does excellent work in the writing. The episodes are brimming with a clear love for the source material, even working in things from the sequel that never happened. There are hiccups, such as a twist that comes in later episodes that throws off the pacing of the series. Douglas Mackinnon, who directed the series, gives it a unique look while bringing aspects of the book to life in breathtaking ways.
Good Omens is one of those once in a lifetime reads for people. As one of those people who was changed by reading that book, which informed a lot of who I am as a person today, I’m in awe that this could even be adapted into live-action. (There was an excellent radio adaptation done by the BBC, which I recommend highly.) Was it a perfect series? No. It was, however, everything that I wanted. It felt like being fourteen-years-old, reading the book in the back of my religion class and feeling free. That’s all I could hope from such an adaptation.
That’s all I could have wanted.
Series Grade: B+