TV Review: Good Omens (2019) (No spoilers)

This six-part mini-series based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is superb. The 1990 book of the same name is very good but this TV adaptation is even better. It definitely benefits from being made into a miniseries that lasted a total of nearly six hours, rather that a shorter feature film. It enabled the screenwriter Gaiman and the director to provide a much richer texture to an already complex story. The series is available on HBO which I do not subscribe to but I happened to be staying at my daughter’s place and they do subscribe so I took the chance to watch it. I can strongly recommend it. In fact, I plan on seeing it again because the dialogue and acting are so good that it is the kind of thing that benefits from a second viewing, where one picks up on gags that one missed the first time around.

The story is based on the impending Armageddon that will climax in a major battle between the forces of Good and Evil that will be triggered by the Antichrist, who is boy named Adam, soon after his 11th birthday. The TV series expands the roles of Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon). Aziraphale was the angel guarding the gate of the Garden of Eden who took pity on the banished Adam and Eve and even gave them his flaming sword to protect them from the wild creatures they would encounter in the hostile world outside. Crowley initially appears in the form of the serpent who tempted Eve. The angel and demon are supposed to be on opposite sides in the war but over thousands of years of crossing paths at various major events in human history have developed a sort of friendship that is grudging at first but becomes stronger when they realize that they both do not see the point of destroying the Earth and all its inhabitants and decide to try and thwart the grand plan. This puts them in the bad books of their two organizations, who try to pull them back into line.

The central plot device is that the baby Antichrist was supposed to be switched for an actual baby born to the wife of an American diplomat at a rural English hospital run by an order of loquacious nuns who are secretly working for Satan. But the nuns are also somewhat incompetent and the switch is bungled. As a result, the forces of Good and Evil follow the wrong child as it grows up, realizing only eleven years later when Armageddon falls due that something has gone agley and that no one know who or where the real Antichrist is.

There is a lot more to the story, involving witches, witch finders, an absolutely accurate book of prophecy, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, War, Famine, and Pollution, two of whom are women actually. I won’t get into any of those details except to say that the Apocalypse is an extremely confusing story that has many interpretations and that the version presented here is as good a version as any. There are also many allusions to contemporary events and political commentary, especially to the extreme dangers posed by environmental pollution and climate change.

The show’s witty script was excellent and the acting superb. The two lead actors Michael Sheen (as Aziraphale) and David Tennant (as Crowley) had excellent chemistry. Sheen plays an angel who dresses in the style of a nineteenth century fop, enjoys fine dining, and is kind-hearted but tentative and unsure of what is the right thing to do at any given time. Tennant is the smooth talking, suave demon who sports dark glasses, black leather jackets, and drives around in a vintage Bentley, who tries to persuade Aziraphale to join him in thwarting the DivinePlan. Tennant manages to convey evil (he even manages to walk like a snake, if you can imagine it) while at the same time generating sympathy for his character who trying to prevent the end of the world and co-opting Aziraphale to join him. The scenes involving the two of them are particularly hilarious. There is also an extremely talented supporting case of A-list actors from British film, theater, and TV, plus Americans Jon Hamm (as the archangel Gabriel) and Frances McDormand (as the voice of God).

Apparently 20,000 people signed a petition sponsored by a religious group asking Netflix to have the series canceled, criticizing the show’s irreverent treatment of religious topics and the use of a female voice for God. I am surprised that they did not also object to the fact that Adam and Eve are black, though that does make more sense evolutionarily speaking, not that these critics are likely to believe in evolution. The group did not seem to know that the show was shown on HBO and not Netflix and that it was a one-off mini series, so there was no second season to cancel. These religious groups do not seem to do the most minimal homework before issuing their petitions.

Here’s the trailer.


  1. johnson catman says

    Ah, but someone told them that it was on Netflix, and that person wouldn’t lie to them because they are a good christian.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I’ve watched it twice and will watch it again.
    I definitely second the recommendation.

  3. G221 says

    Much of the Omen stuff was cringe, a shame because that movie seemed like low-hanging fruit parody-wise. Pratchett just seems to lack the vicious streak needed to truly skewer his source material, as someone who can’t stand the Larry Niven oeuvre I remember being disappointed at how often Strata seemed to pull its punches.

    Excel Saga and Dogma both managed a female Supreme Being better IMO, it seemed kind of random here and the salty Voice just didn’t work for me. And it constantly telling us what we’d just seen onscreen like some sort of described video track got old really fast.

  4. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    I watched it on Amazon Prime video, which might be more accessible to some than HBO. Agreed, great fun. If you know David Tennant from Dr. Who, Broadchurch, or many other roles, it’s just a delight to watch him be evil.

  5. says

    Wake up! You are being pre-programmed to accept the mark of the beast from the Antichrist, Donald Trump.
    Trump is a deceiver. This is The Word, spoken by The Father. I received this word two years ago and have since shared it with anyone who will listen -- most reject The Truth and have believed a lie.
    A few weeks ago, The Lord showed me in a dream (I have received the blessing of prophetic dreams from The Holy Spirit), that the world will be fooled by Trump and will accept the covering that he offers them -- a worldly covering to take away poverty and discomfort and leave sin untouched -- because Trump will make each person feel safe, comfortable, and content. Each will look to Trump and see a man who is relaxed and sociable, having secured his second term in the white house -- and now preparing to establish his world empire.
    THE DREAM: I was seated on a large, comfortable chair at the white house -- a meeting room of some kind and gathered around were lots of other people, all relaxed and content, and drinking wine from tall expensive looking glasses. Trump was seated close to the fire and was relaxing and making everyone feel at home.
    I was NAKED. I looked and saw my nakedness and felt ashamed -- everyone else was dressed in white, even Trump.
    I stood up to leave and covered myself with my hands, walking behind the seats where most of the people were seated to make my way to the door and leave. Trump looked across and saw that I was naked and ashamed; “Take this,” he said, handing me a cloth. “It’s mine, you can have it.”
    I looked at the cloth Trump was trying to give me to cover my nakedness. It looked blue and was nice and clean at first glance -- but then, as I looked closer, I could see that it had BLACK specks/checks all over it -- it was not what it first appeared.
    “I don’t want it”, I said. “That’s not mine”.
    I left, naked.
    The Lord is my covering for sin and shame. Only The Lord.
    Trump is offering a covering that is of this world -- many have chosen to take it.
    Choose wisely.
    Your eternal salvation is at stake.

  6. John Morales says

    Christian Biker:

    I was NAKED. I looked and saw my nakedness and felt ashamed

    Why? Do you shower with your clothes on? 😉

    I left, naked.

    Black spots? The term is ‘macula’ — but you are quite right, Trump ain’t exactly immaculate.

    Your eternal salvation is at stake.

    You are confused; ‘salvation’ in Christian mythology is indistinguishable from coercion — technically, it’s extortion: do what I say, or suffer the consequences.

    (The Lord is clearly a criminal extortionist — luckily, being imaginary, the threat is also imaginary. Be aware: nobody needs to be saved from some imaginary threat.)

    Me, I’m an atheist biker. And I betcha my bike is better than yours: 145 hp, 300+ Km/h — not that I’ve exceeded 260, I’m not a madman)

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