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'Good Omens' is a Bad Night of Viewing
May 31, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments
 

Good Omens, despite a good cast, is not especially good television.

Good Omens began life as a novel by the late Terry Pratchett, published in 1990 and quite the cult fave.

Neil Gaiman (Lucifer and American Gods) created the six-part TV adaptation that becomes available Friday on Amazon Prime after years of trying to make it into a movie.

Like the novel, the TV series has the modest premise of telling the history of the world from its inception to its apparent doom.

It does so largely through the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen, top) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant, top), who have lived on Earth since its creation in 4004 BC and represent, respectively, heaven and hell.

Crowley takes credit for getting the serpent to entice Eve into taking a bite of the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden, thus toppling the first domino that leads humankind to the brink of The End. Aziraphale keeps believing that good will ultimately triumph.

Hmmm, you’d almost think this mirrors discussions that real-life people have been having ever since they learned how to talk.

Most of Good Omens takes place in the last days before things are all teed-up to implode, with some surprising events and alliances that are designed either to expedite the final termination or thwart it.

Sheen and Tennant have some A-list support as they attempt to implement their agendas. Jon Hamm plays the archangel Gabriel, and Anna Maxwell Martin plays Beelzebub. Frances McDormand is the voice of God, and Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of the devil.

While it’s fun to see or hear them, however, Good Omens often feels dense and unfocused. Much of Gaiman’s background is in graphic novels, and even a reasonably successful show like Preacher illustrates how difficult it can be to convey the magic of an illustrated print page to a live-action TV drama.

Good Omens frames itself as droll comedy, echoing the novel with running gags that include the assertion only one prophecy has ever been accurate.

For the record, it was written in the 17th century by Agnes Nutter. Nutter, played here by Josie Lawrence, was a witch, and for her service in that enterprise, she was burned at the stake.

That’s not the comedy part. The humorous elements here, covering a range from slapstick to punnery, are scattered broadly and often centered on Crowley and Aziraphale.

As fellow veterans of the same war for the soul of Earth, adversaries or not, they have become quite close companions. Aziraphale, who has developed a deep fondness for human food on the premise that he must understand the human experience to save human souls, will, for example, take Crowley to his favorite restaurant in a given city.

Crowley doesn’t order food. He does suggest that for a nightcap, they go out and drink for six days.

That sort of interplay and byplay is harmless enough, and at times, humorous. It’s also, too often, silly, forcing Sheen and Tennant to overact and turn into refugees from, well, a graphic novel.

Given its premise, Good Omens is naturally laced with monologues and exchanges about the nature of good and evil, and who is ultimately responsible for the flawed character of humans, and that sort of thing. Here again, some of it is witty, and some of it is too witty, admiring its own cleverness rather than advancing a compelling story.

In the end, Good Omens suggests that an extensive series of side trips do not necessarily add up to an epic journey.

 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
richard
Not to get all nerdy on but if you are going to review something it helps to get all your facts correct. In that regard the book was written by Terry Pratchett AND Neil Gaiman
Jun 1, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Thank you for your informative website . I don’t understand why you headline shows not worth watching. I just assume that shows not headlined on you
Isgcj
May 31, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
 
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