Good Omens is now screening worldwide (on Amazon Prime in Australia). I was under the impression after seeing Bill Nighy in nearly every British film that has arrived in Australia over the past few years, that I was probably getting a little confused with what David Tennant was doing with his portrayal of Crowley.
But no, it seems are doing a quick Google, there is indeed a little bit of the louche emanating from even the early photos of the production, and for about the first half of Episode One, there’s a lot of loping about whilst being incredibly chill about absolutely everything – a character who certainly ‘sauntered vaguely downwards’, as the book puts it – but I still felt he was going to start whistling “…come on, let it snow,” rather than a burst of the hits by Queen.
I’m not alone in loving this book to death (about two different editions to death in fact, one via drowning in the bathtub, the other left in an airport lounge); there’s probably not a day since the early 1990s that someone hasn’t searched to find out whether there’s a film version of Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (A Novel). Everyone I’ve spoken to who ever has expressed doubts about whether they’ll like Gaiman’s or Pratchett’s work (one of the problems of popularity: there’s bound to be someone annoyed by eager recommendations so much that they then angrily vow never to read a word by a certain author) has had this book suggested to them by me, even if they’re seriously skeptical.While I share some of the confusion expressed by friends about ‘why didn’t the BBC get around to doing this TV show much earlier?’, the answer might well be ‘the budget needed for the terrifying wood-chipping jokes, let alone the paintball skirmish, deserves an international budget, not just that of the BBC’.
After a brief conversational tussle during our viewing of episode two on whether swapping the roles of Michael Sheen and David Tennant would result in just as good a portrayal of Aziraphale and Crowley, I think the show settles into being a hilariously brisk and wonderfully nice-and-accurate depiction of the novel. Not to say that it isn’t a certain amount of innovative or even allusion to other great works of British humour – from the very start, there’s a even a sense of the 1981 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV show with an animated opening sequence (establishing the fact that palaeontologists haven’t got the joke about fossil dating yet).
I don’t think anyone can miss the numerous reviews and comments on social media about the show. Therefore, as an avid fan of the original story… this is was well worth waiting nearly thirty years for. Even if the accounts I’ve read about the journey to this series (hat-tip to the Biggles story) have been stressful and even sharply poignant after the loss of Pratchett, I’ve been enjoying what I’ve seen so far.
[In fact, it’s become a binge-watching session as a result, and I’ll have to get back to it before I miss the part about phoning the right number.]