Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett prove in Good Omens that even the Apocalypse can be fun. Good Omens is based on the novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Good Omens deftly combines the humor of the Discworld world series with the social commentary of American Gods. It is an absurd story of the Apocalypse, involving a witch who is the greatest seer in history, an incompetent computer engineer, a misplaced Anti-Christ (and his friends), and last but, not least, the bromance between an angel and a demon. Neil Gaiman makes this work on the screen in such a manner that by the end of the series, viewers are left with a feeling of well-being and satisfaction.
This production of Good Omens is the final result of a very long effort by Neil Gaiman (and Terry Pratchett, before his death) to bring Good Omens to the screen. Neil Gaiman finally was able to make it happen, thereby fulfilling one of Terry Pratchett’s final wishes before his death. The casting is spot on, the production values are top notch, and since Neil Gaiman has written every episode, the series is not only true to the novel but expertly written. At six episodes, the series is the perfect length with the proper mix of British humor, profound commentary on the human condition, and an ongoing discussion of good versus evil. The production boasts a large, stellar cast.
The Supernatural Beings
Michael Sheen (The Twilight Saga-Breaking Dawn) stars as Aziraphale, an angel, and David Tennant (Doctor Who) star as Crowley, a demon. Their friendship is a great bromance that has lasted for thousands of years. Sam Taylor Buck (Medici) plays Adam Young, the Anti-Christ. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) plays a very smug and well-dressed chief angel, Gabriel. Ned Dennehy (Nightflyers) plays his counterpart, Hastur, a Duke of Hell.
Josie Lawrence (Humans) plays Agnes Nutter, a witch and the greatest prophet in history. Although Agnes only appears in a few scenes, she affects events throughout the entire series via her prophecies. Jack Whitehall (Fresh Meat) does double duty as Newton Pulsifer, an incompetent computer engineer, and his ancient ancestor, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery Pulsifier, a witch hunter. Adria Arjona (Emerald City) plays Anathema Device, a modern-day witch and a direct descendant of Agnes Nutter.
Good Omens is the story of the Apocalypse gone slightly askew and the beings who are caught in the middle. There are those who are trying to help make the Apocalypse happen and those who are trying to stop it. The Riders of the Apocalypse, who have waited for ages for Armageddon, clearly want it. Oddly, both angels and demons are in favor of the Apocalypse, with the exception of Crowley and Aziraphale. Both Crowley and Aziraphale have grown fond of humanity through the ages and they work to stop it. On the human front, Anathema Device leads the effort to stop the Apocalypse. Fortunately, she has some unlikely helpers.
In this odd mixture of dueling forces, Gaiman and Pratchett envision an existence where Heaven consists of gleaming structures in the sky that are inhabited by somewhat smarmy angels. Hell is a cesspool of leaking roofs and an incompetent bureaucracy that is incapable of fixing it. One of the constant humorous elements throughout the series is that both Crowley and Aziraphale fear their respective bureaucracies. This attitude is common in the works of both Pratchett and Gaiman, as well as other British writers.
From the beginning of time, both Crowley and Aziraphale have had a friendly duel to influence humanity toward their respective camps. Their constant banter and sparring to influence humanity actually hide their true feelings for each other, which are respect and friendship. In many ways, their conversations mirror the spiritual conundrum that is human existence. Aziraphale and Crowley represent the good and bad constantly struggling for supremacy in humanity. Many fans will remember a Star Trek episode where Kirk was separated into a good and bad Kirk. In theory, Kirk needed both of these traits to be a strong leader as long as they are balanced. Aziraphale and Crowley represent that balance. What is interesting in the entire series is the power of Agnes Nutter’s prophecy. It is almost as if she is the Voice of God, guiding events instead of just foreseeing them.
Viewers will find that Good Omens to be a great and fun adventure. From David Tennant’s hilarious swagger as Crowley to Jon Hamm’s smarmy Gabriel to Miranda Richardson’s sweet but pragmatic Madame Tracy, viewers are in for a treat. Perhaps there is an ineffable and inevitable plan of God and Good Omens is it.