Everything You Need to Know Before You Binge 'Good Omens'
Fans of the 1990 book Good Omens have been waiting for an adaptation for nearly 30 years. A troubled and ultimately shelved film version was attempted by Terry Gilliam after more than a decade of stops and starts. But now, with the debut of a six-part Amazon limited series, the beloved novel cowritten by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett is finally coming to life on screen.
Before you dive in, get the details on everything from the Oscar-winner narrating the story, the star-studded cast, and what early reviews are saying,
If the Good Omens narrator sounds familiar, imagine a Minnesota accent...
We always knew God was a woman, and it makes sense she or the Devil would tell the story of the End Times. In the Amazon series, God is voiced by two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand. Her counterpart down below, AKA Satan, is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The rest of the Good Omens cast is just as impressive.
When you have the chance to participate in a project as beloved and anticipated as Good Omens, you say yes. As a result, Amazon got some top talent to bring the story of the end of the world to television. In keeping with the super British tone of the book, the show is led by British icons Michael Sheen and David Tennant who fill the lead roles of angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, respectively, the representatives of heaven and hell on Earth.
Also repping heaven is Jon Hamm playing the angel Gabriel, who isn't really in the book, but was going to feature heavily in a sequel the authors planned but never got off the ground before Terry Pratchett passed away in 2015. Neil, who wrote the screenplay for all six episodes, incorporated a lot of the plotting he and Terry did into the TV adaptation.
Gabriel takes over a lot of the role fulfilled by The Metatron in the book, who does appear on the show and is portrayed by Derek Jacobi.
Other key figures in the show include Adam, AKA the Antichrist, who's played by newcomer Sam Taylor Buck, and Nick Offerman, the American diplomat whom everyone only thinks is raising the Antichrist. Anathema Device, the descendant of martyr / prophet / witch Agnes Nutter, is played by Adria Arhona. The motorcycle-driving Four Horsemen include Mireille Enos (War) and Brian Cox (Death).
And there's also a cameo from author Neil Gaiman...
The beloved writer told fans on Twitter they should look for him in Episode 4. "Look out for a scene in a small movie theatre where Crowley is watching a cartoon about bunnies," he teased. "Not only will you see my passed out dead drunk in the audience, but all of the voices of the bunnies are me." Delightful!
If you have't read the book (or it's been a minute) here's a brief Good Omens summary:
So here's the deal. Despite playing for opposing teams, Angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley have developed a friendship over several millennia on Earth, as well as an affinity for Earth life and humanity in general. So when the Antichrist is born, they decide to work together to prevent the young child from growing up to end the world.
The only trouble is, due to a hospital mixup, the true Antichrist is actually a kid named Adam, growing up in the countryside with way too much power for an 11-year-old boy and seems poised to bring about the Apocalypse entirely by accident.
Here are the titles of the Good Omens episodes:
The Good Omens reviews so far are mixed but mostly good.
When people wait 30 years for something, expectations can run kind of high, and that might be what's happening with the early reviews for Good Omens. Critics agree the chemistry between Tennant and Sheen is perfect and "a joy," as The Guardian's Lucy Morgan writes.
AV Club's Danette Chavez says the scenes that don't feature the angel and demon "often come across as commercial breaks or some other form of intermission until we return to the 'Aziraphale and Crowley Show.'”
The early Metascore on Metacritic is 61, with 7 mixed and 5 positive reviews, so nobody's calling it a stinker. And if audience opinion matters to you more, you'll be pleased to know the average rating on Rotten Tomatoes is 4.7, while the IMDb store as to this writing is a solid 9.0.
U.K. viewers without Amazon Prime will have to wait a bit longer to see it...
Amazon Studios partnered with BBC2 on the production, but the streaming platform gets first crack at it. Viewers in the UK who don't have a subscription can see the show eventually when it airs on BBC2 six months later in a one-episode-per-week format, according to RadioTimes.
Good Omens is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.