Based on the book of the same name, written by the Godly duo of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, ‘Good Omens’ is a uniquely satirical show that isn’t afraid to go balls to the wall weird. Like, really weird. It deals with the looming threat of the apocalypse, a Queen-loving demon, Satanic nuns, an angel with an unusual fondness for magic tricks… and much, much more. There’s so much going on over the six episodes it’ll leave your head spinning, but it’s a heavenly ride you won’t want to leave.
Spoilers ahead, by the way. (See, I’m practically angelic!)
The show centres around the relationship between a soft-hearted(ish) demon named Crowley (David Tennant) and an unusual angel named Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), and their tumultuous friendship over literal hundreds of years. Dawning from the Garden of Eden up to the fated day of the apocalypse, it’s their friendship that the show hinges on, and it’s their friendship that really makes the show sparkle. The on-screen chemistry between Tennant and Sheen is brilliant. Watching the demon trying to get the angel to take a walk on the wild side and forgo any moral obligations, while the angel attempts to inject some sort of humanity into his soulless pal is delightful, and both of the actors really show off their acting chops. You can tell they’re both having an absolute blast, and this magnetic energy radiates off the screen.
‘Good Omens’ strives to achieve levels of over-the-top grandeur – and, well – telling a tale about battling demons and angels while counting down to the end of the world (on neat little picket-fence signs that pop up on the screen like an old friend), it’d be crazy if the show didn’t try to create a sense of grand drama. What makes this show unique, however, is that is juggles grand set pieces with nuanced little scenes.
For example, while ‘Good Omens’ introduces the four horsemen of the apocalypse in a style that wouldn’t be amiss in a Tarantino film, the horsemen are weaved with the same sense of humour that follows throughout the show. “Isn’t it beautiful?” Pollution comments on a river filled with plastic, while a delivery driver awaits nonchalantly for a signature from a literal demon. The show is full of these strange juxtapositions, the mundane obliviously meeting the spectacular, and it’s delightful to watch it all play out.
The supporting cast feel as though they add weight to the plot, too. Particularly Anathema, distant relative of prophetic witch Agnes, who deserves to have a show focusing on her in her own right. That’s the beauty of ‘Good Omens’, though. Most of the side characters are given love and care so that, despite all of their quirks and oddities, it feels as though they exist in their own right, and aren’t just slapped in for exposition purposes.
It isn’t afraid to push against the norm, either. In one episode, the two main characters are barely seen, instead choosing to focus on winding through side character’s stories, and show us how they’re relevant to the main over-reaching theme of the show. In another, the opening credits don’t hit until 30-minutes deep. It jumps through time, through decades, through characters and settings, whilst still maintaining its sense of quirky identity, with its tongue firmly in its cheek.
That’s not to say ‘Good Omens’ isn’t without fault. The plot, at times, gets convoluted and doesn’t make a whole load of sense, though in all honesty, I haven’t read the book (I know, I know, I’m gonna buy it and devour it soon). Even so, character motivations seem… messy, at best. Perhaps they become clearer on a second watch, but they seem to jump from conclusion to conclusion rather rapidly, relying on the viewer to suspend their disbelief. In a show about angels and demons, that shouldn’t be too hard though, right?
The problems only worsen when the show reaches its conclusion. To be honest, the ending is a total letdown. It’s as if the entire show is a composer’s great piece of work, building layer upon layer to reach a grand crescendo and… it never comes. The show is resolved by Adam yelling at literal Satan that he’s “not his real father!”, and so he falls back into the holes of Hell. The plot twist of Crowley and Aziraphale being too angelic and too demonic to face their deaths can be seen coming a mile away, and the promise of Armageddon is never really reached.
The group of children Adam hangs around with are ridiculously annoying and unnecessary, too. I mean, I get that they’re supposed to be annoying, and they do serve narrative purpose, but man, I just wanted to skip whatever scene they popped up in.
Having said this, I don’t really care about the negatives. The good outweighs the bad, by far. Everything about the show is dying to get your attention. From the subtle nuances of the back drops – each scene is filled with props and quirky little atmospheric decorations – to the fantastic musical score, to the superb acting and razor-sharp dialogue, there’s something about this show that you just can’t help but fall in love with. It’s like a weird combo of ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events’ meets ‘The Umbrella Academy’, quirky yet sharp, and filled to the brim with wit.
‘Good Omens’ is available to watch on Amazon Prime. The show has certainly left its mark, too, as in response to its religious themes, a 20,000 strong petition has been signed to cancel the show. Rather embarrassingly, the petition was urging Netflix to pull the show, not Amazon Prime. Oops. Maybe Crowley had a hand in that?
For more on binge-worthy TV shows, check out my spoiler-free review of Netflix’s hit show ‘Dead To Me’.