Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Some thoughts on Good Omens


Good Omens – the book – is fantastic.  There are a ton of little jokes and references that you can’t always remember, so every time you reread it, you rediscover these gems.  Good Omens – the series – I found … a little meh.

Now I know that books and TV series are different media: what can be easily done in one can’t always be done in the other.  And adapting a book allows the screenwriter to show a different angle of the story, as well as maybe fixing a few inconsistencies, or things that didn’t work all that well.  (I didn’t miss the other Hell’s Angels not being in the series.)  I am perfectly fine with changes being made, as long as the end product works.

First off, I absolutely love the portrayal of Aziraphale and Crowley.  That episode with a half hour showing them throughout history was fantastic, and a great example of a screenwriter filling in some gaps from the original story.  I would watch a cut of the show that was just their scenes.  It’s just that, in my opinion, everything else kind of fell flat. 

For example, in the book the Apocalyptic Horsepersons were very important minor characters.  In the series, they seemed little more than glorified cameos.  This is a weird, personal thing, but whenever I think of the book, I think of this woman I used to know.  She might have been the one who introduced me to the book, now that I think of it.  Anyway, I remember her talking about how she loved this one scene involving War.  A scene that wasn’t in the series.  So in my mind, one of the key elements of the book isn’t in the series. 

While that is a personal issue the makers of the series should not worry about, there is one they should have worried about.  And that’s the Them.  There is a lot of Them cut from the book, and I think that hurt the show.  Instead of spending a lot of time getting to know these characters, we got the CliffsNotes, which cut some important details.  In the book, there’s another gang of kids, the Johnsonites who don’t show up in the series.  Well, Greasy Johnson shows up at the beginning, but I don’t think he’s mentioned or seen again.  In the book there’s a scene where Adam and the Them talk about what it would be like if they completely beat the Johnsonites.  They talk about how things wouldn’t be as interesting without them, and how some of the locals would prefer not having either gang.  And Adam comes to the conclusion that it would be better if neither gang “won.” This is the argument he uses later against the forces of Heaven and Hell.  He uses it in the series, but without the setup.  So one of the components used to stop Armageddon just … shows up basically out of thin air. 

Several of the reviews I’ve seen talk about how great Aziraphale and Crowley are, and I agree.  But I think they were made too important.  I always saw them as major characters, but as part of an ensemble cast.  That we saw more of them is great, but I think too much was cut from other characters.  If they had had an extra episode to include more from the book – especially for the Them – then it would probably be something I’d gladly rewatch whenever I reread the book.  But as is, I’d rather just watch an Aziraphale/Crowley cut.

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