I think it’s safe to assume that the apocalypse is on everyone’s minds. Not only did we just have the ninth season premiere of the globally loved doom porn The Walking Dead, but the most recent season of American Horror Story dives into the world of hysterics and monsters in a society post-nuclear fallout. And after this weekend’s turbulent conclusion to the newest appointment to the United States Supreme Court, frankly, I’m sure plenty of us would rather just drop a match, let the world burn, and try this whole “humanity” thing over again.
But then again, we could also just use some laughs, right?
Thankfully that’s where Amazon, the BBC, and Neil Gaiman come in. Amazon just dropped the debut trailer for their adaptation of Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex). They respectively play the characters Crowley and Aziraphale, who have been encountering each other throughout the centuries, sparking a cosmic bromance between the demon and angel.
Aziraphale is the heavenly representative on Earth, while Crowley is literally the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. But their relationship is tested when they realize that Armageddon and the coming of the Antichrist are upon them. Being quietly accustomed to the quaint lives they lead in England, they band together to try and prevent the end of days from destroying everything they hold dear.
Most anticipated about the show is the chemistry between Sheen’s stuffy Aziraphale and Tennant’s too-cool-for-school Crowley. Odd couple pairings are a tale as old as Neil Simon and with two actors as skilled with text as Sheen and Tennant, it’s guaranteed to be a riot. But what I find most striking is how jubilant the Good Omens series looks. Every single one of our grand apocalypse dramas is mired in bleak storytelling. Even Gaiman’s other current TV adaptation, American Gods, while having a wicked sense of humor, doesn’t feel as airy as what we’ve seen from Good Omens so far. With a debut trailer scored by Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend,” Good Omens could be the most joyful end of days we’ve seen.
Good Omens has quite the history of attempting to be adapted for the screen. In 2002, director Terry Gilliam was attached to a feature-length version of the book with a completed script and a rumored cast featuring Johnny Depp as the demon and Robin Williams as the angel. But by 2006 the project had all but been abandoned due to lack of funding, despite Terry Gilliam showing some hope in 2008 that it would finally go into production.
By 2011, another legendary Python, Terry Jones, was attached to the first TV adaptation to be penned with Gavin Scott, best known for Small Soldiers and The Mists of Avalon. But after Terry Pratchett’s death in 2015, Gaiman vowed to never finish the adaptation. As he stated in an interview with Vanity Fair:
“Terry and I had a deal that we would only work on ‘Good Omens’ things together. Everything that was ever written—bookmarks and tiny little things—we would always collaborate, everything was a collaboration. So, obviously, no.”
But miraculously, thanks to a posthumously delivered letter Pratchett wrote to Gaiman urging him to continue the project, he conceded and wrote every episode of the upcoming Amazon series.
The show will be directed by Douglas Mackinnon, best known for his work with Steven Moffat on Doctor Who and his spectacular adaptation of Jekyll, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s seminal novel. Alongside Sheen and Tennant, the star-studded cast includes Jon Hamm as the Archangel Gabriel, Miranda Richardson as Madame Tracy, Reece Shearsmith as William Shakespeare, Derek Jacobi as Metatron, Michael McKean as Witchfinder General Shadwell, Jack Whitehall as Newton Pulsifer, Nick Offerman as a U.S. ambassador, and Josie Lawrence as the titular Agnes Nutter. But if I was to give an award for the most perfect casting on the show, I’d have to give it to Frances McDormand who will be playing the Voice of God.
Catch Good Omens on Amazon coming in 2019!