Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Starring: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Frances McDormand, Sian Brooks, Daniel Mays, Sam Taylor Buck, Jon Hamm
Runtime: 6 episodes
Neil Gaiman is a god, let’s just put that out there now. Between Coraline and The Graveyard Book alone, he cemented himself as one of my favourite authors. Then he wrote a run of Marvel’s Eternals in 2007, an amazing Batman story (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?) in 2009, and of course, earlier in 1989, the seminal DC Vertigo book, The Sandman. I still recall being 12 years old, and first picking up a copy of The Graveyard Book and being almost instantly, near hypnotically, hooked into its world. But despite all the excellent work I’ve read by Gaiman, I’ve never actually read his most acclaimed work. That being, I’ve never touched American Gods, and more to the point, I’ve never touched his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens. I’ve always meant to, but I’ve never got my hands on a copy.
Then I heard that Amazon, in conjunction with BBC, was adapting Good Omens as a limited series, so I thought to myself that I’ll read the book before the television series arrives. In the end, I never did, but it’s a joy to report that it didn’t matter too much. I still utterly adore this show and think it might quite possibly be the best series of television in the last year. But anyway, less of the gush, more of why I think this show is particularly spectacular.
It’s hard to dig into the plot of a series like this without unearthing serious spoilers for those who have not yet read the book, so I’ll make it as basic and brief as possible. The end of the world has arrived, and an angel and a demon must team up to prevent the destruction of the place that they have come to call home over the many, many years. So they set upon a quest to find the Antichrist (which they happened to have, well, lost) and put a stop to the plans for the war between Heaven and Hell. And before I discuss any of the acting, I must make special mention to the director Douglas Mackinnon for making this show so fantastically stylised. Some of the shots (I won’t spoil which) are breathtakingly beautiful and need to be seen to be believed, quite honestly. The soundtrack too is simply to die for. Queen has never been used to quite as great an effect as it has here.
I’ve always had a particular soft spot for David Tennant thanks to his days as The Doctor in my formative youth, but it’s this performance that will stick in my mind when I think of him. His turn as Crowley the demon must be seen to be believed. He, along with Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, have absolutely incredibly chemistry. It’s just fantastic beyond words, really. Sheen and Tennant not only manage to convince us of their relationship instantly, but they’ve also got near perfect comedic timing. And all of the side characters are fantastic. I mean, they got Jon Hamm to play the angel Gabriel, for heaven’s sake. It’s Jon Hamm, little more needs to be said, it’s just perfect beyond comprehension. I won’t dig into too many of the other characters for fear of spoiling the surprise of who is who for any potential viewers, but this is the show that finally convinced me that Jack Whitehall is actually a decent actor.
There’s a couple of issues with pacing here and there, notably in the third episode (You’ll understand what I’m talking about when you reach it), but beyond that, it’s ineffably glorious. Yeah, that’s the word. Ineffable. The perfect word to describe Good Omens.
So back to the fact I’ve never actually read Good Omens. You’d better believe that after this series, it quickly went onto my next purchases list. If it’s anywhere near the quality of the TV series adaptation, it’ll be an utter masterpiece.
Good Omens is an amazing adaptation of Gaiman's work, and one of the greatest shows to grace our screens this year.