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“Good Omens” Ep. 1: “In the Beginning…”

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Welcome to the end times. “Good Omens” has arrived.

The long-awaited, much-hyped adaptation (might I add, a bona fide Neil Gaiman adaptation) of the iconic novel is finally here.

Good Omens
Photo credit: SXSW 2019 | Leigh Kettle/Shuffle Online

For this critic and for countless other fans of all ages, there has been a lot of buildup to this moment. From a popular interactive experience at the 2019 SXSW Festival to an outpouring of love to the cast and author, all omens point to one hell of a good time at Armageddon.

For the uninitiated, the novel “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” was published in 1990 as a joint effort by (unknown at the time) writing legends Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett.

They collaborated on the project, even modeling two characters after their odd and unlikely friendship, and the book became a massive success. It has had at least 146 editions printed since it was first published and frequently makes lists of most influential, most popular and all-time best reads.

Good Omens
Photo credit: SXSW 2019 | Leigh Kettle/Shuffle Online

How does the show hold up? Let’s talk about that.

So, here’s what we saw in Episode 1 of “Good Omens:”

Our narrator, you could say Master of Ceremonies, is (appropriately) the voice of God… which in this case is the voice of Frances McDormand. We’re treated to an irreverent history of mankind’s attempts to explain creation and the origins of the universe until we finally reach the moment where someone got it right.

Which brings us to the Garden of Eden at the moment of humanity’s fall. The demon Crowley (David Tennant) seduces Eve into tasting the forbidden fruit and shortly after meets the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen). Aziraphale has taken pity on the cast out founders of mankind and gifted them his flaming sword, so that they may protect themselves.

Crowley notices this and this spurs a rousing debate on what is good and what is evil and whether each respective representative of Heaven and Hell has really done what’s best for their master. This marks the beginning of a long friendship between the angel and the demon.

Millenia into the future, Crowley is charged with the delivery of the anti-Christ. The end times are upon us, and Crowley and Aziraphale vow to stop it as they’ve grown attached to humanity.

Unbeknownst to our duo, there was a mix-up at the Satanic nunnery charged with placing the anti-Christ with his mortal family. The angel and demon discover, 11 years after the fact, that they’ve been trying to protect and influence the wrong child!

The episode ends with the real anti-Christ, a kind boy named Adam, meeting his Hell Hound (turned into a darling Jack Russell terrier) and accidentally triggering Armageddon.

A hallmark of Gaiman’s works and easily one of the most charming parts of both the novel and the show are the quirks and fantastic dialogue of the characters.

Tennant is spot on in his performance of the demon Crowley. All swagger and liquid sex, but wicked funny. Sheen’s performance of Aziraphale is absolutely precious and the nuance of an angel that kinda likes being bad is too fun to ignore.

I have to wonder if Jon Hamm will ever escape his role as Don Draper in the popular “Mad Men” series, because many of those same elements are brought into his performance as the Archangel Gabriel.

For Episode 1, these are the major standout performances. A perfect cast, thus far.

“Good Omens” is notoriously irreverent source material and that is reflected in every aspect of the show’s structure. The characters are quirky, almost cartoonish. The settings are rich and really draw the eye. It’s funny. It’s punchy. It exists to poke fun.

An element of the show that is different from the book, and definitely for the better, is the use of music. Music has been a huge vehicle of carrying that fun, tongue-in-cheek thread and it’s excellent.

Favorite moment of Episode 1 of “Good Omens:” The introduction of the Hell Hound. It is a perfect copy of the moment in the book and a real testament to all that is great about the show and story.

Can’t wait to see where things go in Episode 2!

What were your favorite parts of Episode 1 of “Good Omens?” Sound off in the comments!

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