Review: With Good Omens Amazon Brings Playfulness and Love to the End of the World

Review of: Good Omens
Televsion mini-series:
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gamin (screenplay by Gamin)
Price:
Included with Prime subscription

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On June 24, 2019
Last modified:June 24, 2019

Summary:

A jaunty romp to the edge of the end of everything. Will the Anti-Christ rise to destroy humankind and give the angels and demons their war for supremacy or will love and friendship prevail, averting war, famine, pestilence, and death? All good questions. And all answered with fun and joy in Good Omens.

Amazon’s Good Omens Brings Playfulness and Love to the End of the World

For those inclined to dislike Amazon’s Good Omens without seeing it, you have missed enlightenment and a treat.

The Terry Pratchett and Neil Gamin inspired Amazon limited series penned by Gamin challenges convention. It offers up some sacrilege and brings its story to the brink of Armageddon. But in the end, it is a story of friendship triumphing over evil—of people finding a balance between their evil inclination, and their desire to do good in the world. And isn’t that what the other book is all about too?

Good Omens leans on Judaism’s Yetzer Harrah, or evil inclination—the more Jewish than Christian view that all people are capable of both good and evil (and that all good and evil begins and ends with G-d, any usurping of either is just an illusion of point-of-view). Judaism also does not subscribe to the idea of original sin, but rather offers up the idea of poor choices that can be repaired through acts of love and kindness. Yom Kippur would be meaningless of G-d could not be persuaded to change her mind about a person.

David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as angle Aziraphale channel a bromance that feels as comfortable as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen bantering on a Graham Norton couch.

From the beginning of humankind onward, these two wayward angels watch humankind develop, often helping and hindering in kind. And throughout their experiences, coming ever closer to an appreciation of humanities innate value to the cosmos. They personify the extremes evolving toward a mean.

The key plot involves a traditional Antichrist and Armageddon set up where a human child, the purported son of an American Ambassador, grows up to wreak havoc upon the world. As he reaches toward maturity, Adam Young (Sam Taylor Buck) discovers just how twisted genes can be.

Suffice it to say that the less than stellar management styles of Gaiman’s angels bungle the plot, and until the end starts to arrive, no one is the wiser.

Although the edge of Armageddon centers the series, complete with four horsemen of the apocalypse storming into Tadfield on their mighty motorbikes, the show is really about friendships. The Crowley/Aziraphale bromance isn’t the only important relationship. Adam discovers the answer to nurture versus nature through his own pack of friends who turn out just as powerful as literally all the demons of Hell.

The acting is universally underplayed and natural—unless it needs to be unnatural, and then its shoots directly to 11. A good example of 11 comes as Tennant’s Crowley defies a ring of fire encircling London and wills his Bentley to keep going as he speeds off to save the world he loves.

Neither Heaven nor Hell comes out of Pratchett’s and Gaiman’s imagination with much reverence. Both prove a bit bungling. But the All Mighty, Voiced by France McDormand, seems to know the score and narrates the escapades with a wink in her voice.

Special effects play a part, but they fade in memory like hate and destruction in the rather heartfelt construct of reality streamed from Amazon. The music for the end times, of course, is mostly Queen.

Not once during my viewing did I say to myself something could be done better or with more finesse or with more panache. Perhaps I am simply a pawn mesmerized by this end-of-the-world advancing tool of the devil.

Overcoming the good-evil as a conjunction

The only offense one can lay at the feet of Good Omens is as an allegory that strays far from the strict reading of the source material (The Holy Bible/Torah). But at its core, Amazon’s Good Omens reverberates the golden rule—do not do to others what you do not want done to you.

Humankind, the unlikely duo of Crowley and Aziraphale sense, in the end, will find itself fed-up with supernatural manipulation. The real battle may not be between good and evil, but between humanity and the supernatural…for the right to own free will with no strings attached.

The six-episode series runs on Amazon Prime.

The series is based on the Terry Pratchett and Neil Gamin book, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The book is available in print and on Kindle.

A jaunty romp to the edge of the end of everything. Will the Anti-Christ rise to destroy humankind and give the angels and demons their war for supremacy or will love and friendship prevail, averting war, famine, pestilence, and death? All good questions. And all answered with fun and joy in Good Omens.

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