Monday, June 3, 2019

Good Omens - In The Beginning

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a terrifically amusing novel from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about an angel and demon coming together in an attempt to save the Earth from Armageddon. Adapted as a six-part Amazon series, the first episode introduces us to both the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (David Tennant) who have grown quite comfortable on Earth sine being stationed there before Eve plucked the apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Having formed an unlikely friendship in their shared exile, neither is all that keen on the coming of the Antichrist and the end of the world. After a brief set-up, including the pair's first meeting, "In The Beginning" jumps forward eleven years prior to present day when Crowley is tapped to deliver the baby Antichrist into the arms of the human couple who will unknowingly raise it to destroy the world. As latch-ditch plans go, this one isn't so bad... but then fate steps in.

Narrated by Frances McDormand, who helps provide context and some of the jokes hidden in the book's footnotes, we get short glimpses of the the pair attempting to each teach the young boy they believe to be the Antichrist (believing that learning from both an angel and a demon will make the child more human than demon or angel and prevent the end of the world). There is however one slight problem; they have the wrong kid. The show's opening episode does a fairly good job at introducing our two main characters and setting up events of that fateful night when the Antichrist is not substituted for the proposed American couple but a British couple blissfully unaware they've just taken the spawn of Satan home with them. Ending with the arrival of the Hellhound (who is given a much different greeting from his new master than expected), meant to unleash the Antichrist's full powers and trigger the beginning of Armageddon, it's only here that the angel and demon discover their mistake. And so the misadventure begins.

I've always compared the book to the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the show definitely keeps that same feel. Adapted from the original work by Neil Gaiman himself, Amazon's series makes good use of both its stars as Tennant gleefully enjoys playing the morally-bankrupt Crowley and Sheen shines best when Aziraphale allows himself to be talked into the unthinkable by his best-friend. One-sixth of the way through, the series has captured the absurdity, humor, and world-ending dread just around the corner. I'm very curious to see where things go from here.

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