I had higher hopes for the adaptation of “Good Omens” than this.
Neil Gaiman co-wrote it, and they had the good sense to cast the cherubic, grinning Michael Sheen as “good” angel Aziraphale and the vulpine David Tennant as the demon Crowley.
The production design by Michael Ralph and cinematography by Gavin Finney (lots of use of fisheye lenses, minimal light) has a “Blade Runner” meets “Dark Shadows” feel — gloomy and foggy Britainnia, with the quasi-villain Crowley tooling about in a vintage Rolls “updated” with a Blaupunkt cassette player (’70s settings.
Very Sherlock Holmes’ Moriarty, with cats-eye contact lenses.
The “Damien: Omen 2” story about mixed up spawn of Satan being raised by “the wrong” families is a non-starter, with all its internecine angel fighting and scheming. But a lot of the dialogue is as witty as you’d hope, demons cooing at how cute Baby AntiChrist/warlock is, right down to his “little toesy woesies!”
Contending with the inept Satanic nuns from “The Chatting Order of Saint Beryl,” bickering about who good and evil — “You’re an angel. I don’t think you CAN do the wrong thing.” — and who might have to spend eternity watching “The Sound of Music” over and over again.
Jon Hamm is the Archangel Gabriel, selling the “Miracles are what we do!” pitch with sinister undertones. The supporting cast, varying from episode to episode, has some heft to it.
The series hangs on the great chemistry between Tennant and Sheen, bickering over the relative merits of “The Divine Plan” vs. “the wiles of the Evil One.” They’re a lot of fun.
The cute conceit here is that neither is absolutely sold and wholly committed to their side in this eternal war.
The obnoxious, cloying crutch of the whole is that everything — what we’ve OBVIOUSLY seen, what we expect to see, what has happened before and whose agenda is being pursued is unnecessarily and insufferably over-narrated by The Almighty, voiced by Frances McDormand.
The Oscar winner is a great actress, and in a series overwhelmed by testosterone, she’s almost certainly a needed female face. Which is why not showing that face is such a bad idea, almost as bad as that lazy storyteller’s go-to shortcut, “voice over.”
It’s not as long as some limited series, even if its dollops of plot are doled out in that cable TV way (tiny drops of exposition, slowly advancing story, attempts at cliffhangers). So maybe it’s worth your time.
It wasn’t really worth mine.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Cast: David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Brian Cox, Jill Winternitz, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nick Offerman, Jon Hamm and the voice of Frances McDormand.
Credits: Directed by Douglas MacKinnon, script by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. An Amazon Prime release.
Running time: 6 episodes of one hour each