Why Good Omens is the show that fits the divided world we live in
The beloved book is now a TV show with a stunning cast.
Two views that are vehemently opposed to each other. An increasingly hostile environment where leaders feel that they're 100% right and infallible. Mindless bureaucrats that are making stupid decisions which will be catastrophic for the ordinary person. An inability for logic, debate, and intelligent discussion to be heard.
It all feels oddly topical which is why the release of Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video couldn't have come at a better time.
Yes, the show is concerned with angels and demons, good and evil, heaven and hell, but who's to say that that you can't have a laugh while doing so?
When JOE caught up with the cast, Michael Sheen instantly commented on how eerily topical the story now is.
"Bizarrely, when Neil and Terry wrote the book, they had to put in a line it at the end that said 'It's so ironic that it would be the Apocalypse now, just when everyone is getting along'. Which is sort of true, I mean the Berlin Wall was coming down at the time the book was written and it seemed like people were getting on. Now that the TV show is coming out, it all feels a bit eerily prescient," said the Welsh actor.
Since being released in 1990, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's book has become a cult-classic but for the majority of the past three decades, various attempts to adapt it have failed to get off the ground.
However, now seems like the perfect time for Good Omens to arrive as a TV show because if the world is going to end, we might as well have some laughs along the way.
If you're one of the many people that loved the book, fear not because Neil Gaiman is the also writer and showrunner on this one.
Essentially, the show is like a comedic take on The Omen but one that's mixed with pop-culture references, the occult, Queen, musings on mythology, culture, history, pink biscuits, wine, and countless gags about the mundane nature of everyday life.
In terms of the plot, the son of Satan has been born and Armageddon is coming, but there's one problem.
The end of the world is imminent, which means a fussy Angel named Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and a loose-living demon (Crowley played by David Tennant) who've become overly fond of life on Earth are forced to form an unlikely alliance to stop Armageddon.
However, they have lost the Antichrist, an 11-year-old boy that's completely unaware that his destiny is to bring upon the end of days.
Can the unholy union of Crowley and Aziraphale work together to save the world before it's too late?
If it all sounds a bit gloomy, you'll be delighted to know that there are gags galore throughout the six episodes and when Sheen and Tennant are on screen together, they're a joy to behold.
This is a show that gives as much time and importance to a scene where the two characters get drunk as it does to a very weighted discussion about morality and theology in the Garden of Eden.
In terms of character, Crowley is like a demonic rock star that's all swagger, fire, and brimstone. Imagine Keith Richards with an unholy array of powers and an even more feckless attitude.
As for his sparring partner, Sheen is pitch perfect as the fussy, pernickety, and reluctant to change, Aziraphale. Watching him on screen, we couldn't help but think of an ethereal version of Mrs Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances.
In many ways, the six-part adaptation of the beloved book is the ultimate odd couple story.
Michael Sheen (The Damned United, Frost/Nixon) said that The Beatles were an influence on how he viewed the main characters:
"The interesting thing about this coupling is how much they rub off on each other, because they’ve been on earth for so long now. I’ve always compare them to The Beatles. I remember reading one of The Beatles saying that a part of what bonded them the most is that the four of them went through that nobody else could understand.
"That brought them closer and it’s similar with our characters because no-one else knows at it’s like to be on earth for thousands of years and watch humanity grow. They’re connected to the world and humanity in that way, but also to each other."
In a way, the most inhumane characters on the show are the most human ones too because after spending so much time on Earth, they've both grown very fond of the place.
Tennant's demon has become a bit more humane and caring, while Sheen's angel has learned the joys of being a bit bad.
However, as is the way with so many places of work, head office want things done by the book and that's where God (Frances McDormand), Gabriel (Jon Hamm) and Satan (Benedict Cumberbatch) get involved.
"They’re not exactly good representatives of their respective head offices. They have rubbed of on each other so much that Crowley isn’t that mean anymore and Aziraphale isn’t that pious," said Tennant.
"Between them they’ve reached a common ground and become each others significant other. They’ve only got each other to rely on. It’s only when you see head office and the angel Gabriel that you realise just how humanised they’ve become by the mortal world that they like a lot."
Two camps rigidly thinking in terms of black and white, unable to budge or compromise.
Sounds familiar, right?
It's worth noting that Good Omens is an absolute riot that's brimming with a variety of gags, but with the current social-political climate so divided, David Tennant couldn't help but see the similarities between fact and fiction.
"There is a moral message in it and it's that you’ve got these fundamentalists that are polarised - the biggest polar opposites that you can get, actually - heaven and hell. If there’s going to be any redemption at all, it’s going to be from the people that are willing to meet in the middle somewhere.
"For all that these characters (Crowley and Aziraphale) are eternal and supernatural, they’re probably the most human characters in the piece because they’ve the most foibles and nuances".
Whether or not you're an angel, demon, or human, everyone has to serve a master and it's very likely that Jon Hamm's performance as the Archangel Gabriel will remind you of the worst bosses that you ever had.
Annoying, irritating, and constantly assured that what he's doing is right, the Mad Men star infuses the character with a sense of smug certainty that would make you want to take the Lord's name in vain.
He's like a colleague that would leave you a post-it note on your PC screen.
"The representation of total goodness and total evil comes across as, kind of shitty at a certain point. You’re kind of like ‘we like the hard edges and points where things get murky'. Black and white is no fun, it’s the shades of grey that are exciting," said Hamm.
Of course, the star of Mad Men and The Town isn't the only talented actor to star alongside Tennant and Sheen because Good Omens also features the likes of Nick Offerman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Frances McDormand, Brian Cox, Jack Whitehall, Josie Lawrence, Adria Arjona, Michael McKean, and Miranda Richardson.
However, we'll leave the final word about the affairs of heaven and hell to Jon Hamm.
"When this person from head office (Gabriel) arrives and says, you have to do this and that, of course it’s going to get some pushback from the person that actually has to do these things. Every boss is like ‘you’re doing this wrong. You have to do this and that’ and you’re like ‘well, you’re not down here, that’s not how it works."
Even angels and demons can feel your pain.
Good Omens is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Take a look at what's in store.
Clip via Amazon Prime Video