Good Omens 1.1 – In the Beginning

Every once in a while, the three series that we’re watching on alternating evenings all wrap up at the same time, which is a perfect opportunity to change up the format just a little and watch something across, say, six evenings. And hey bravo, here’s the brand new Amazon / BBC co-production of Good Omens, written and overseen by Neil Gaiman, and based on a celebrated and much-loved novel that Gaiman co-wrote with the late and very much-loved Terry Pratchett in 1990.

Our son knows Gaiman from Coraline, which he has read and watched and loved, and Fortunately, the Milk, which I enjoyed reading to him very much, and I hope that he’ll love The Ocean at the End of the Lane one day, because I think that one’s wonderful. Pratchett, I don’t know at all yet. Sorry. I’m aware it’s a hole in my edermekation, but we can’t all know everything.

Good Omens is available to stream for Amazon Prime members now – and I was due for another free trial – and will air on the BBC later this year and then be available on proper shelvable media. Over the course of six episodes, it will tell a story I knew nothing much about going in, other than it stars Michael Sheen as an angel named Aziraphale and David Tennant as a demon named Crowley, and they’ve spent the last 4400 years being pals and not letting any of their kind know about their unacceptable friendship, and that they enjoy music and drinks and used books and spirited debate.

And then one bad night eleven years ago, Crowley gets an assignment: to drop off the newborn antichrist where he can be swapped with the newly-delivered son of an American diplomat – y’all remember those Omen movies from the 70s, right? – and, on his eleventh birthday, take ownership of a hellhound and destroy the planet. Crowley convinces Aziraphale that he should stop being so passive and thwart this evil scheme, despite the fact that the Almighty must have planned this.

Eleven years go by and the hellhound does not show up on this tyke’s birthday. That’s because the antichrist got swapped for a different kid entirely, and while our heroes have been working their supernatural influences on the wrong boy, the real antichrist has been growing up with a perfectly ordinary life in the town of Lower Tadfield.

To be sure, there’s a lot that an eight year-old isn’t going to get in this delightful comedy, but ours grasped the basics and the misunderstandings. Apart from Tennant cussing up a storm when he learns his lovely little planet, with all its fast cars and loud music, has got just eleven years left, I don’t think there’s anything here that an open-minded parent would find objectionable. It was a very, very fun hour, and the arrival of the hellhound many, many miles from where anybody thinks its meant to be, had us laughing out loud and really looking forward to tomorrow night’s installment.

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