I was beyond excited to learn that Niel Gaiman himself was bringing Good Omens to life on Amazon Prime, and he mostly succeeds. Still, it wasn’t a perfect interpretation. There are pacing issues, and there is a lot of stuff from the book that is in the show, but it isn’t given enough time to breath or land properly. It is worth watching, but it doesn’t quite live up to its source material.
If you have never read Good Omens, then you should. Immediately. Sure, that would make this summery paragraph useless, but it is better for you if you have read Good Omens and then waste a couple seconds reading a pointless paragraph then having not read Good Omens. It is a classic. A lot of people like to say ‘modern classic’, but I don’t want to qualify it. However, you will not be reading it in the next couple of minutes, so here we go. An angel, Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), and a demon, Crowley (David Tennant), have been on earth since the beginning, and they have grown to love the world and its inhabitants, so when it is time for the apocalypses to begin, they will team up to stop it.
Since one of the authors of Good Omens, Neil Gaiman, took it on himself to adapt his co-written book to screen, I feel like he tried to stay too true to the source material. It all feels crammed in without the space or care it needs. The show either needed to be longer to let everything happen more naturally, or Gaiman needed to get out the red pen and narrow the focus a bit. Which is what the BBC radio play did, and it was fantastic. Now, this series was never going to live up to the book. The book combines Terry Pratchett’s amazing humor and wit with Gaiman’s lyrical and fairytale like prose. It was an almost perfect chimera of the two authors’ strengths. The show on the other hand, tells the story, and is quite charming, but it can’t quite reproduce what made the book special.
What makes Good Omens truly worth watching are the leads. Sheen and Tennant are amazing. They have one of the best on screen friendships I have seen in quite some time, and any time they are together, the show starts to sing. However, any time they are not on screen the show gets a bit hoarse, so it is good they have so much screen time, and that is not to say the other actors are not capable, quite the contrary, but these two’s chemistry elevates everything.
Good Omens the TV series is good, but coming from a book that is superlative, and then a BBC radio show that was excellent, good doesn’t quite feel good enough. Especially right now when there is so much excellent TV to watch, so in the end, I still recommend Good Omens. It is worth watching for Tennant and Sheen alone, but honestly, you should read the book, and if you have done that, find a copy of the BBC radio play. Then finally watch this mini-series.