Good Omens, Episode 1 Review: “In The Beginning”

by Rachel Bellwoar

What if the only thing standing between the world and Armageddon was a demon and an angel?

Personally, I’ve always been against the world ending, but I’ve also been excited for Amazon’s miniseries, Good Omens, to begin, making it slightly awkward that the show’s about a baby, destined to launch Doomsday. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman and late visionary, Terry Pratchett, Good Omens begins, not with Satan’s baby being born, but with the friendship between Crowley (David Tennant) and Aziraphale (Michael Sheen). Crowley’s the demon, Aziraphale’s the angel, and the place where they met is the Garden of Eden, helping or (in Crowley’s case) tempting Adam (Anthony Kaye) and Eve (Schelaine Bennett).

Genesis includes my favorite Aziraphale moment to date. While most of the episode is Crowley trying to wear Aziraphale down, so they can break the rules and stop Armageddon, Aziraphale bends them just fine on his own in this opening sequence.

Overall, the show seems to be weighted towards Crowley (and by extension Tennant). He has more costume changes (I foresee his Mary Poppins getup being a hit), more hair styles, a rock star strut. Story-wise, you could argue an angel wouldn’t be so ostentatious but in his main costume change, into a gardener, Sheen is barely recognizable, whereas Tennent is always visible beneath his clothes. However, there’s no reason Aziraphale should be less interesting than Crowley. Good Omen‘s spin on the Creation Story proves that, and I hope future episodes allow him to shine as bright as his devilish counterpart.

Three more thoughts on the first episode:

  • Reading about babies being swapped is a lot different than watching babies be swapped.

While it’s important to the plot, that Crowley and the Nuns of the Chattering Order place Satan’s baby with the wrong family, the fate of the other two children is harder to move past when you’re watching it happen on-screen. One-minute Mrs. Young is holding her son, the next you’re watching her get tricked into thinking another baby’s hers. Warlock (the Young’s biological son) might not grow up to be a peach but he was raised with a demon and an angel on his shoulder. That’s bound to mess with your head.

  • Nobody who hasn’t read Good Omens is going to realize “Bohemian Rhapsody” isn’t a response to the current wave of Queen mania.

In truth it’s a direct reference to the book, where cassette tapes left in the car for too long turn into the Best of Queen albums, but that isn’t explained here, so it comes across as the show riding on the Oscar-winning film’s coattails.

  • In a cast this good, Nina Sosanya deserves special recognition for her performance as Sister Mary Loquacious.

Disarmingly cheery and enthusiastic about her charge, you would never suspect that she worships Satan.

Early Verdict: Barring an additional angel or two (John Hamm’s Gabriel wasn’t in the original story), Good Omens is looking to be a fairly faithful adaptation of Gaiman and Pratchett’s novel. For those who have read the book, though, I’m not sure the series tops the experience of reading their words (at least not yet).  

Good Omens is streaming on Amazon.

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