Classic novel brought to life in new Amazon series


According to the Amazon Prime limited series “Good Omens”, Earth was made on October 21 at 9:15 a.m. in the year 4004 BC, which makes it a libra. The fantasy-comedy novel “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was published on May 1, 1990 and features several more audacious takes on both creation and the apocalypse; twenty-nine years later, Gaiman has adapted the novel for the small screen.

“Good Omens” follows an angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley. According to Gaiman’s story, they were sent to Earth in the beginning with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden to spread good and evil acts among humanity. They came across each other throughout the many years that they were on Earth and became friends. They just did things they enjoyed; Aziraphale owned a book shop and ate food, and Crowley didn’t really do his job. e didn’t want to do bad thingsrather he preferred to take care of his plants and talk to Aziraphale.

David Tennant (“Doctor Who”) plays the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen (“Tron: Legacy”) plays the angel Aziraphale in the adaptation. The narrator, God, is voiced by two-time Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand. The miniseries introduces other characters throughout its run like the Archangels Gabriel and Michael, played by Jon Hamm (“Man Men”) and Doon Mackichan (“The Borrowers”), respectively. Witches and witchcraft are introduced too, per the full title of the best-selling source material “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.” Josie Lawrence (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”) plays Agnes Nutter and her great-granddaughter Anathema Device is played by Adria Arjona (“Emerald City”).

In the series, the writers and producers made a creative choice to make God a woman with the permission of Gaiman and Pratchett. The producers also made the Archangel Michael a woman. These nontraditional choices are cleverly explained or implied by the show’s witty script, suggesting that since God and angels are celestial beings who don’t technically have genders. 

“Good Omens” is very well written throughout its brief but impactful single season. It hews very closely to the book with the help of Gaiman in the lead role as creator. In the show, flashbacks of the friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale through the years offer more insight that isn’t really explored in detail in the book. 

“Good Omens” mostly follows Biblical history, but some of the characters were made up exclusively for the show. Crowley is mentioned as the serpent, but Crowley the demon isn’t mentioned in the Bible. And Aziraphale is an angel but isn’t found in any officially religious texts either. “Good Omens” spins a story about finding friendship in the unlikeliest of places and following one’s heart rather than what higher powers dictate. It speaks to the government’s role, and society in general, with regard to how everyone falls in line until someone thinks for themselves and breaks the norm.

The show is on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service, available to anyone who has a subscription to Amazon Prime. It’s hard to say if the show is better than the book because they share so much of the same story, sense of humor and voice, but if you want more visuals to help better understand this epic, hilarious battle of good and evil, then watch the miniseries. That said, there’s something to be said for using one’s imagination and sitting down with the original text, laughing quietly to one’s self as Crowley and Aziraphale destroy the planet.