I’ve just worked my way through the new TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Nail Gaimans’ Good Omens, and on the whole, I thought it was pretty darn good.
I must confess, I’ve never been a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I always enjoyed his comics far more than his novels, although I can safely say I’ve read most, if not all, of Sir Terry’s books at least twice.
As soon as I heard they were making the show, I re-read the book, having not read it since it was first published. I’ve always felt what makes Good Omens what it is, isn’t the story, which is fun but structurally all over the shot, but the fact that it’s the collaborative effort of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which trumps the weaknesses of the story every time.
In much the same way, the TV show makes up for the stories weaknesses by being far more about Michael Sheen and David Tennant, who really bring Aziraphale and Crowley to life, (although that’s not to take away from the other excellent casting choices).
My big beef with the story (insofar as the novel is concerned) is that there too many characters and plot ideas that pop up in a fairly continuous stream, with little or no editorial control. This is obviously a result of the authors’ collaborative effort – apparently their chief aim was to make each other laugh – and the book gets away with it because of that.
It does annoy me slightly when people do adaptations of books into TV shows and they take so much license with it that it almost becomes unrecognisable from the original text (some of Philip K. Dick’s adaptations spring to mind). I understand why this is, and in the case of Good Omens I thought this would have been the perfect opportunity to go back and really shake the structure of the story up a bit and improve it.
Instead, Neil Gaiman’s screenplay is a very faithful replica of the book, which means that it takes almost all of the the first two episodes before we’ve met all the key players.
Aside from that, though, it’s all very well done. The FX are great, the main theme tune stupidly catchy, the acting pretty much spot on all round (I did worry from the trailer that Tennant would chew the set up a bit too much, but luckily that was just a side effect of the trailer editing).
So do check it out, if you get the chance. Even if you’re not a big fantasy fan, Sheen and Tennant will keep you more than enthralled.0