In ‘Good Omens’, the Amazon Prime debut of Skye-born director Douglas Mackinnon, two key elements stand out — simply because they are outstanding.
They are David Tennant and Michael Sheen. Every time these actors are on screen together this six-episode novel adaptation is a joy to watch. Tennant’s louche demon Crowley and Sheen’s prim, fussy angel Aziraphale form a touching dysfunctional relationship that is the emotional heart of this comedy-horror-fantasy.
As their respective realms’ representatives on Earth, Crowley and Aziraphale have been cancelling each other out for millennia, ever since the former gave the apple to Eve and the latter his flaming sword to Adam. Christian theology is applied in liberal strokes here, but the realisation that each must become a little like the other to avert Armageddon gives this busy, hectic caper an intriguing and satisfying core. They’re more Yin and Yang than polar opposites. As a message, that isn’t too bad. Or good.
As well as the principals, there is an assortment of star turns from an all-star cast including a rare outing for Josie Lawrence as a 17th-century witch who is positively eager to be burnt at the stake, and John Hamm as a lunk-headed Archangel Gabriel. There’s even Derek Jacobi as God’s titan-like receptionist, while God herself is voiced by Frances McDormand. Attentive viewers (and listeners) may also spot several references to the director’s home island.
If the word ‘antichrist’ immediately conjures images of impaled priests and decapitated photographers, ‘Good Omens’ majors on lightness, not creeping unease. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse wear leather jackets and ride motorbikes; the King of Atlantis wins a competition on board the cruise ship that rescues him. We are firmly in Certificate 12 territory here, and it is never seriously tested.
Subplots abound, and there are pacing issues at times, but all the various strands eventually converge for a spectacular finale. If the M25 is hell to drive on at the best of the times, the Day of Judgment gives it a little extra sizzle.
Adapted from the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel, the series offers a tantalising glimpse of an enduring partnership made in Heaven, toughened in Hell, but which may yet enjoy its best life right here on Earth.
Article by Michael Russell, images courtesy of Douglas Mackinnon.