Good Omens poses the opener that you might’ve thought that the universe began 14 billion years ago, and the Earth, 4.6bn years ago, but this series confirms that it all began on Sunday 21st October 4004 BC, at 9am… Sounds plausible.
Whatever you believe, God is a woman – voiced by Frances McDormand, and Earth began under the starsign Libra, and all this information is imparted to us in what feels like a new version of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
Despite the era, both Michael Sheen (as angel Aziraphale) and David Tennant (as the devil, Crowley) are using modern-day colloquialisms, such as “That went down like a lead balloon”. The two are generally a delight to watch onscreen on their own, just simply chewing the scenery, so I was particularly looking forward to them being paired up once I saw the trailer for this.
But where’s Aziraphale’s flaming sword? Oh, he gave it away to the first couple, Adam and Eve, who meet in the Garden of Eden.
We fast forward to the near-present day where demons who chant “All hail Satan!” are meeting in a graveyard, talking about what they’ve done to harvest souls for their master, such as corrupting politicians (who are corrupt enough, anyway) and bringing down mobile phone networks, and it’s in this time period where Crowley now looks like an younger and almost-drunk Bill Nighy.
There’s a Mother Superior (Susan Brown) who leads the Satanic Nuns of the Chattering Order of St Beryl, and with Crowley bringing the new Antichrist (in baby form) to them, they’re about to let all hell break loose, literally, and all thanks to an accidental switcheroo.
As such, if the Apocalypse is to be avoided when the child turns eleven, the two forces of good and evil are going to have to work together, and that’s the scene set.
Good Omens goes for the cinematic look of a near-cinemascope-style that doesn’t look quite 2.35:1, but without accurate information to hand, I’d say it’s around 2.20:1, so a bit wider than most Netflix series which are 2.00:1 (which has also spread to terrestrial TV, in the main).
And even if you’re not a fan of neither Tennant, nor Sheen, then apart from there being something wrong with you, there’s more big names in this cast than would fill Noah’s Ark (to throw in a biblical reference). Just check out the cast list at the bottom of this review.
In addition, Good Omens shows us that TV is succeeding where mainstream cinema is failing, as it can’t come up with anything new and just resorts to lazy superhero and/or monster and/or reboot movies, plus CGI kids films which are indistinguishable from one another.
But can you lure away the kids from any of those films and show them this series? Well, with its very dark themes, even based on the first episode, I did wonder if it could possibly be a 12-cert, although certain elements appeared to border on a 15. On checking the BBFC site, episode 1 is a PG! The rest are each a 12-cert, though.
There are six episodes in the series and I’ll be catching more of them soon.
Good Omens Season 1 is released on Amazon Video on May 31st, and at some point in the future, it’ll be on the BBC… unless the world ends in the meantime.
Episode 1 Score: 9/10
Director: Douglas Mackinnon
Producers: Phil Collinson, Paul Frift, Josh Dynevor, Tim Bradley
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Book: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
Music: David Arnold
Aziraphale: Michael Sheen
Crowley: David Tennant
God: Frances McDormand
Arthur Young: Daniel Mays
Deirdre Young: Sian Brooke
Thaddeus Dowling: Nick Offerman
Harriet Dowling: Jill Winternitz
Beelzebub: Anna Maxwell Martin
Sister Mary Hodges: Nina Sosanya
Sister Grace: Jasmine Hyde
Archangel Michael: Doon Mackichan
Adam Young: Sam Taylor Buck
Gabriel: Jon Hamm
Anathema Device: Adria Arjona
Sandalphon: Paul Chahidi
Duke of Hell Hastur: Ned Dennehy
Brian: Ilan Galkoff
Shadwell: Michael McKean
Madame Tracy: Miranda Richardson
Pepper: Amma Ris
Wensleydale: Alfie Taylor
Newton Pulsifer: Jack Whitehall
Tadfield Neighbourhood Watch: Bill Paterson
Duke of Hell Ligur: Ariyon Bakare
International Express Man: Simon Merrells
Uriel: Gloria Obianyo
Demon No.1: Paul Adeyefa
Death: Brian Cox
War: Mireille Enos
Pollution: Lourdes Faberes
Famine: Yusuf Gatewood
Smythe: Nathan Amzi
John Device: Dan Antopolski
Immigration Official: Ramanna Banger
Dagon, Lord of the Files: Elizabeth Berrington
Oyster Woman: Jackie Clune
Mother Superior: Susan Brown
Virtue Device: Bryony Corrigan
Satan: Benedict Cumberbatch
Agnes Nutter: Josie Lawrence
Television Newsreader: Kirsty Wark
Quartermaster Angel: Jonathan Aris
Himself: Paul Gambaccini
Mr. Harmony: Mark Gatiss
Hell’s Usher: Andy Hamilton
Pam: Konnie Huq
Metatron: Derek Jacobi
Captain Vincent: David Morrissey
Himself: James Naughtie
Horace: Steve Oram
Nigel Tomkins: Ben Willbond
Jesus: Adam Bond
Norman Weathered: Andy de la Tour
Dagon, Lord of the Files: Nicholas Parsons
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.