Courtesy: BBC Studios
Salvation comes in strange and unexpected fashions. Author Neil Gaiman spoke those words in one of the bonus features included in the recently released home release of Amazon Studios and BBC’s Good Omens. It is also the central theme of the mini-series, adapted from the novel of the same name, which was co-written by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. The mini-series created quite a stir among audiences when it made its streaming debut through Amazon in May. Some loved it while others alleged it promoted something other than Christian beliefs and values. Those who claimed it promoted anti-Christian beliefs clearly did not watch the six-hour mini-series. Had those naysayers watched the program, they would have seen that if anything, it in fact presents some very positive messages, some of which are actually very pro-Christian. Those noted messages incorporated into the story, go a long way toward making the program well worth watching. They will be discussed a little later. The story at the center of the program forms the program’s foundation. The noted bonus content that is featured with the program’s home release adds to the set’s presentation slightly. The cast’s on-camera work also adds a certain element of enjoyment to the program. When it is considered alongside the program’s primary content and messages, the whole of those elements makes Good Omens a presentation that is one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.
Amazon Studios and BBC’s recent small-screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchatt’s novel Good Omens is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable television offerings to come along so far this year. While perhaps not necessarily memorable long timer, it is still quite the enjoyable program to watch at least once. That is due in part to the program’s primary content – its story and related messages. The story in question follows the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley as the duo partners to prevent Armageddon from happening. The angel and his fallen angel friend are not the only ones trying to stop an 11 year-old antichrist. Anathema Device (Adrai Arjona – True Detective, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Life of the Party) also wants to stop the antichrist. Not to give away too much for those who have yet to watch the series, but it isn’t the group that stops Armageddon from happening, but rather a much more unexpected group. That group will be left for the noted audiences to discover for themselves. Getting back on topic, the idea of the good guys and bad guys teaming up to stop the ultimate evil is anything but new in the literary, cinematic and television realm. It is an oft-used trope that spans the entertainment spectrum. Even with that in mind, the way in which the topic was approached in this case is still original, giving audiences reason enough to watch the program.
The story itself gives audiences reason to watch, clearly. Looking deeper within the story, it actually boasts its own share of interesting content to add to its presentation. Right from the start of the story, Adam and Eve are dark-skinned rather than white. It is good to see someone buck the trend of white-washing everything, instead opting for something more realistic. At another point, Aziraphale tells Crowley that the flood was actually localized, rather than global. It is a subtle statement, but one that is certain to create its own share of discussion since it, in its own way, argues that we should not take the bible verbatim. On another level, Adam’s admonishment of both sides that they want to have their war just to see who is better, at the cost of mankind, is sure to generate even more discussion among viewers. These and other plot elements tied into the story make the story in whole well worth the watch. They are just a portion of what makes it so intriguing. The messages that are tied into the story add their own interest to the mini-series’ presentation.
One of the most notable of the series’ messages is raised through Crowley’s personal growth. Crowley is a fallen angel, but over time, he realizes that he is not as evil as he would like to think he is. He, like Aziraphale, starts to think more for himself, rather than just giving in blindly to “the infallible plan.” He proves that even those who are bad likely are actually good deep down. This certainly doesn’t sound like something evil. Rather, it is the exact opposite, proving again that the mini-series’ naysayers clearly did not watch the program. It is just one of the key messages incorporated into the six-hour run of Good Omens. The program presents plenty of other positive messages that audiences will appreciate.
One of the other notable messages incorporated into the whole of Good Omens is that of looking past our differences and accepting others. Crowley and Aziraphale are polar opposites. Crowley is a demon and Aziraphale is an angel. On a deeper level though, both figures are still angels. One of the duo is just a fallen angel, so in reality the two are still more alike than they are unalike. The pair realizes this over the eons and learns to look past the differences, in turn becoming longtime friends.
Yet another key message incorporated into Good Omens is that we are the masters of our own fates. Adam might have been prophesied to have been the catalyst for Armageddon, but he ends up making his own choice, leading to the story’s unexpected ending. Whether this message (like the others noted) was intended is anyone’s guess. That is because nowhere in any of the bonus commentary is this discussed. This will be addressed a little later. Either way, the message is there. Just because someone says that we are this or we are that does not mean we have to abide by what they say. We make our own choices about our lives. It is up to us what we do in our lives. Between this message, that of thinking for ourselves rather than blindly following, and that of overlooking cultural differences, the messages that are incorporated into the story of Good Omens, the obvious allegorical nature of the novel (and its TV adaptation) makes for more than enough reason to watch this mini-series. When the messages noted here are considered with the show’s overall story and its plot elements, the whole of that content makes even clearer why this program is worth the watch. They are just a part of what makes the set worth viewing. The bonus content featured with the set adds its own touch to the mini-series’ presentation.
The bonus content spread across Good Omens’ two discs is worth noting because of the background that it adds to the show’s presentation. The feature-length commentary featured with each of the show’s six episodes features discussions on topics, such as the program’s set and costume design, its adaptation from its literary source material and its symbolism. Viewers learn through the commentary in the show’s fourth episode, that star Michael Sheen was very particular about his character’s attire and that the wings on the delivery man’s uniform were related not just to angels, but to a certain mythological figure. There is also a discussion in Episode Four’s commentary about the use of Adam’s friends as their own “four horsemen.” Of course even without that note, it was obvious in watching the episode that they were representative of the horsemen in their own right.
In the commentary for Episode Three, viewers learn that the half-hour opening segment used for the episode was not actually included in Gaiman and Pratchett’s novel. Speaking of sequences, viewers learn from Gaiman himself that the mini-series’ very opening sequence, which features Frances McDormand as the voice of God, was a direct transfer from the novel, but almost ended up in a different portion of the episode than where it ended up. Late in the mini-series’ final episode, there is mention of a possible second season, but Gaiman never does confirm if a second season was even in the planning. Considering that there were protests by some groups against this program, those protests apparently did not succeed, taking Gaiman’s statements into consideration. It sounds like odds are there was little to no chance of a second season for the show.
The feature-length audio commentaries featured with each of the show’s episodes add their own share of engagement and entertainment for viewers, as noted here. The items discussed here are but a portion of the content featured in the commentaries. Each commentary included in this mini-series features far more than what is shown here, but for all that they offer, none of the commentaries features discussion on theology or anything related to it. The closest that any discussion comes is in the first episode’s commentary in which a brief comment is made about Adam and Eve being dark-skinned. Other than that, there is barely any talk by anyone involved, about the show’s religious roots. It would have been nice to have received some discussion on that item. It doesn’t make the commentaries unwatchable, but does detract from their enjoyment. Of course, considering the messages and plot elements tied in to the story, viewers are sure to create their own discussions anyway. To that end, the lack of any talks on theology doesn’t detract from the program too much.
The commentaries featured with each of Good Omens’ add their own touch to the whole of the mini-series’ presentation, and are just a portion of the key bonus content featured with the show’s home release. The “Page To Screen” bonus, which is essentially just a “making of” featurette features interviews with Sheen and co-star David Tenant, along with appearances by Jon Hamm and others. Audiences learn from Hamm that he worked to make Gabriel unlikeable, just for comedy’s sake. He jokes about making Gabriel that workplace boss figure that everyone hates. He does an outstanding job of his performance, too. Tenant and Sheen offer their own insights into working on the program. Each actor’s commentary on that aspect adds its own share of appreciation for the show. When it is considered along with Hamm’s discussions and those of the show’s other cast members, the whole of everything here makes this yet another key addition to Good Omens’ presentation. All of that bonus content, considered with the show’s story, plot elements and messages, makes the program in whole that much more entertaining and engaging for everyone. They make Good Omens in whole one of the year’s most surprising new shows and most surprisingly entertaining.
BBC and Amazon Studios’ Good Omens is a presentation that viewers looking for an alternative to everything on broadcast television will appreciate. That is due in part to its story, which is original in a variety of ways. The plot elements and messages that are tied into the story add even more engagement and entertainment for viewers. The bonus content adds its own touch to the mini-series in its home release. That is despite a clear lack of any talks on theology, that could and would have added even more to the whole of the show’s home release. Even with that in mind, the whole of the items discussed here makes Good Omens its own good omen for the future of television. More information on this and other titles from BBC is available online at:
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