Amazon's Good Omens: A Bubbly Rom-Com Set During The Apocalypse

When a book is made into a films or a series, you are left wondering how this is going to work out ...  Maybe they're trying to make a 400 page book into three films, looking at you The Hobbit. While reading "Good Omens" (the book) I really began to wonder how it would be possible to manage the transition. After all, book and motion picture are two different mediums, thus the transition can never be 100% accurate.

This is one of the reasons why I am certain that "Rivers of London" can't be a TV Series because of Peter Grant's dry sense of humour - which mostly occurs in his thoughts. The humour is one of the key elements that make or break "Rivers of London" and the same applies to "Good Omens". So I feared that it was going to meet the same fate: losing the sarcasm, absurdity and tongue in cheek.

As I sat in front of my streaming device, I realised that these concerns were unfounded. "Good Omens" (the series) managed to hit this tone perfectly. The opening monologue is lifted right from the book, and so are some parts of the dialogue. If you have good memory, you could talk some scenes along.

Only after a few minutes the series had the exact same feeling and vibe that the book has: a fever dream of someone who mixed his fifth espresso with a monster energy drink.*

Good Omens still
courtesy of amazon prime
If that is right up your street, "Good Omens" provides a highly entertaining watch.

If you're a fan of the book, the series stays true to its roots but there is some canon-divergent. I felt that those are for the better. For example, the book has a tendency to explain its world and backstory in footnotes that break the pace - which is what footnotes do - and often quite funny moments are hidden down there. Thus creating a slightly chaotic read at times.

Gaiman averted this issue in film by adding the vital information in the correct "timeline." Then there is the helping "Voice of God" which functions as the narrators voice as well. While God ™ is typically portrayed as male, in "Good Omens" they are voiced by the American actress Frances McDormand and they/them and later she/her pronouns are used.

Keeping with the canon-divergent, it also took a hard left into queer-subtext: almost half of the third episode ("Hard Times") is dedicated to Crowley and Aziraphale's relationship and how it happened that an angel and a demon can be devoted to each other like this. In the book this had been kept to a simpler explanation that they had spent so much time away from their repetitive sides but together on Earth that they got used to and started to like each other after a while.

I also feel that when writing the book Gaiman and Pratchett hadn't realised how queer-coded Aziraphale and Crowley were but the series further digs into this. It shows us pretty accurately how their relationship developed from the start and showing an even deeper devotion, that can be read as homoerotic.

Good Omens: In the Beginning
While Crowley and Aziraphale have chemistry in the book as well, I feel that the series is much more explicit - this could also be related to the 30 years difference between the releases - and while this relationship is not exempt from being the butt of a joke as much as any other, it was treated more tenderly, especially at the end.

This makes their relationship not into an accidentally queer-coded one but into intentional subtext. Later in the story, they become each other's driving forces and the possible loss of Aziraphale marks the point in Crowley's story when he wants to give up. I could probably write a whole essay on this topic alone but in the end, it is left of the viewers interpretation.

Towards the end of the story, the pace starts to pick up and more details of the original story are left out - e.g. there are no "other" Horseman of the Apocalypse, Aziraphale body hopping, and the drunken conversation between Crowley and Aziraphale about the bird and the mountain - which I dearly missed. Instead the plot is keep to its basic roots for dramatic effect and to keep you hooked. Only the very best moments are kept in for comic relief.

However, this divergent from the book, also leads to one of the funniest scenes that had been added to the story:

Good Omens: Hard TimesGood Omens: Hard Times
The mayor theme of the book is transecting loyalties on all sides. While love between enemy lines is not an unknown theme in all types of media - from the love between Liesl and Rolfe in The Sound of Music, to even in real life fought wars (Christmas of Truce in 1914), "Good Omens" shows it in much more detail and a gentler manner, sprinkled with the usual dose of humour. It goes from the undying devotion of Crowley and Aziraphale towards Heaven and Hell working together to destroy the former. While their relationship can be read as queer, the message is about all types of love and in the end remains the same as the book.

All of this would not be possible without the cast. While David Tennant is, of course, a fan favourite, he really embodied the role of the Crowley, giving him dimensions while adding to his Extra being. Michael Sheen managed to portrait an Aziraphale that starts with a stick up his  ...., to an Angel who is quite comfortable with the choice he made over the last few days, and adding a little "bad". Together they create the driving force of the plot, and you can't help but fall in love with them.

Furthermore, the whole cast is relatively diverse. Characters which were not given a gender in the book are often portrayed female and/or of colour. In the book, no-one is given any race or colours, and yet, without being asked to almost half the cast is not white. Pollution is Asian, Famine is a African American. The same applies to Pepper who is portrayed by an UK black actress.

Overall, "Good Omens" is a highly entertaining series with lots of dry humour but also heart. The vibe of the book does not get lost through the transition. Instead, and I know that these words are rarely spoken, I dare to say that it is a better than the book. The story structure flows well, and is going to keep you up late at night. Please, keep a whole afternoon free because you're going to watch "Good Omens" in one sitting.

Good Omens created by Neil Gaiman
Written by Neil Gaiman
Directed byDouglas Mackinnon
Released in 2019 on Amazon Videoand BBC Two
Number of Episodes: 6

*this is a not sponsored mention

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  1. We can't stream Amazon Prime due to our rubbish village broadband but I am soooooo up for this series when it hits BBC2 later in the year. I haven't read the orginal so everything will be a lovely fresh surprise. Glad to hear you think it does the script justice though, I can't wait to see it now :) Lisa

    1. It'll be great fun! I hope you're going to enjoy it :)

  2. Oooh I watched Good Omen and I really liked it! God narrating (also god is a woman, how cool is that), the relationship between the two... Such a good show!

  3. I've not seen this as I don't have Amazon Prime but I've heard so many people talking about it and how good it is. Plus David Tennant so I'll have to watch it somehow at some point! I've also heard good things about the book but I've struggled with Terry Pratchett books in the past so I'm a bit wary. Glad you enjoyed it so much though.

    1. David Tennant is really good it this one! It was like I was being back in 2013 with my fan-ing. Tbh, this was the first time I read a Pratchett book, so I don't know about his other works, but next week I am going to publish my review of the Good Omens book :)

  4. I have heard a lot about this but haven't had a chance to check it out yet. That being said, it really does sound like it's right up my alley! I'll have to make a point of finding time.

    1. I hope you find the time. It's going to be worth it, I watched it all in one sitting - hadn't expected that - and then rewatched it so often....


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