Good Omens launches us head-first into a mind-boggling world of angels and demons with its opening episode, In The Beginning‘.

At long last, the moment so many fans have been waiting for is finally here. First published back in 1990, Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett‘s novel Good Omens has since amassed an enormous and loyal fanbase. Although it was adapted for radio back in 2014, there’s no denying this is the version we’ve all been waiting for. After almost thirty years, Good Omens has, at last, made it on to the silver screen. Behind this project is top streaming service Amazon Prime, as well as a star-studded cast and crew, with Gaiman himself taking on the role of showrunner. The question now is, have they successfullythey  successfully managed to bring this much-loved book to life on-screen?

WARNING! This review contains spoilers for the first episode of Good Omens. Keep reading for our spoiler-free thoughts on episode one (‘In The Beginning‘), and scroll down for a more spoiler-filled discussion – if you dare!

Former Doctor Who David Tenant and Michael Sheen describe the mismatched heroes of Good Omens as a true double act (c) Amazon Prime Video
David Tenant and Michael Sheen describe the mismatched heroes of Good Omens as a true double act (c) Amazon Prime Video

Good Omens Episode One: In The BeginningSpoiler-Free Review

It’s a guaranteed fact that going into this first episode of Good Omens, there will be two categories of the viewer – those who are already fans of the book, and those who haven’t read it yet. If you count yourself among that first group (as I do), you’re most certainly in for a treat. Alternatively, if you’ve never experienced Good Omens before, strap yourselves in, and prepare for a real roller-coaster of an opening chapter!

Despite its fifty-minute running time, In The Beginning‘ covers an expansive period of time. We start out (rather fittingly) at the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden. We’re then taken forward to more recent times, as we follow demon Crowley (David Tennant) and angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) over the most recent eleven years of their lives on Earth.

It’s clear from their very first scene together that Tennant and Sheen have been perfectly cast in their respective roles. Each of Good Omens‘ protagonists seems to have stepped straight off of the page and onto our screens. Crowley is the suave, swaggering, and effortlessly cool (at least on the outside) demon that fans of the book know and love. Aziraphale is similarly instantly recognisable. He’s endearing but anxious, and utterly loyal to God’s ineffable plan. It’s an utter delight to see these two well-loved characters so faithfully and vividly brought to life.

Elsewhere, it’s hard not to be amazed at how spectacular this show looks. As with its characters, each location has been beautifully translated on-screen. What’s more, Good Omens (much like its radio counterpart) has proven in this first episode at least to be an incredibly faithful adaptation of the original novel. Any additions or changes only serve to expand on the existing story and give us the viewers a more in-depth insight into its characters.

Several moments from the book are almost flawlessly realised, with at least one actually making me laugh out loud! The only aspect of this adaptation I find myself on the fence about is its narration. During certain scenes, Frances McDormand‘s interjections as the voice of God are essential in guiding the viewer through what is undeniably a complicated plot. At other times, however, her remarks feel a little redundant, especially for those already familiar with the story.

Nevertheless, Good Omens is off to an incredibly strong start. I, for one, can’t wait to spend another five hours in the company of Tennant‘s Crowley and Sheen‘s Aziraphale, as they continue their efforts to stop the Antichrist bringing about the end of the world…

Now you’ve heard our spoiler-free take on Good Omens episode one, ‘In The Beginning‘, if you haven’t seen it, go and watch it!

Keep scrolling for our spoiler-filled review below – if you dare!

Good Omens - Ep1 - Crowley (David Tennant) Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) - (c) Amazon - BBC Studios
Good Omens – Ep1 – Crowley (David Tennant) Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) – (c) Amazon – BBC Studios

Good Omens Episode One: In The Beginning – Full Spoiler Review

It’s a guaranteed fact that going into this first episode of Good Omens, there will be two categories of the viewer – those who are already fans of the book, and those who haven’t read it yet. If you count yourself among that first group (as I do), you’re most certainly in for a treat. Alternatively, if you’ve never experienced Good Omens before, strap yourselves in, and prepare for a real roller-coaster of an opening chapter!

Despite its fifty-minute running time, In The Beginning‘ covers an expansive period of time. We start out (rather fittingly) at the very beginning of the universe. Good Omens wastes no time in throwing us head-first into its weird and wonderful world. Frances McDormand (as the voice of God) narrates a fantastic opening sequence discussing theories on the creation of the universe. Whether or not it’s an intentional reference, this sequence immediately reminded me of the expository ‘guide entries’ from 1981’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series.

Soon enough, we’re introduced to demon Crowley (David Tennant) and angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen). It’s abundantly clear from the very first time we meet them that Tennant and Sheen are perfectly cast in their respective roles. Each of Good Omens‘ protagonists seems to have stepped straight off of the page and onto our screens. Crowley is the suave, swaggering, and effortlessly cool (at least on the outside) demon that fans of the book know and love. Aziraphale is similarly instantly recognisable. He’s endearing but anxious, and utterly loyal to God’s ineffable plan. Plus, the amplified roles of angel Gabriel and demons Hastur and Ligur very effectively illustrate just how bad Aziraphale and Crowley are at their jobs!

Good Omens - Ep1 - Gabriel (Jon Hamm) Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) - (c) Amazon - BBC Studios
Good Omens – Ep1 – Gabriel (Jon Hamm) Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) – (c) Amazon – BBC Studios

While this opening episode is likely somewhat bemusing for those unfamiliar with Good Omens‘ story, it’s sure to have established fans of the novel grinning from ear to ear, as dialogue and scenes are taken straight from its pages and played out on screen. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the sight of Crowley turning into a gothic Mary Poppins as Warlock’s nanny, and Aziraphale transforming himself into his caricature of a gardener! How David Tennant kept a straight face while singing his satanic lullaby, I’ll never know.

The show (much like its radio counterpart) is proving to be a faithful and vivid adaptation of the book thus far. It’s hard not to be amazed at how spectacular everything looks. As with its characters, everything from the Garden of Eden to Aziraphale’s bookshop, to St Beryl’s Hospital has been beautifully translated on-screen. Any additions or changes only serve to expand on the existing story and give us the viewers a more in-depth insight into its characters.

The only aspect of this adaptation I’m still on the fence about is its narration. During certain scenes, Frances McDormand‘s interjections as the voice of God are essential in guiding the viewer through what is undeniably a complicated plot. They work exceptionally well in introducing us to the Youngs and the Dowlings, and during the confusing ‘baby-switching’ sequence. At other times, however, her remarks feel a little redundant, especially for those already familiar with the story. I can’t help but feel some things could have been better shown rather than explicitly told the viewer.

Nevertheless, Good Omens is off to an incredibly strong start. I, for one, can’t wait to spend another five hours in the company of Tennant‘s Crowley and Sheen‘s Aziraphale. Their portrayals of these already well-loved characters have only made me more fond of them thus far. Aziraphale’s insistence upon performing his magic tricks on Crowley (much to his embarrassment), for example, was a wonderfully in-character moment!

In The Beginning‘ ends with our protagonists coming to a terrible realisation. It transpires that, for the last eleven years, they’ve been mentoring the wrong child. Now that the Antichrist named his hell-hound (thus triggering Armageddon), the question now is – where is he?

Good Omens is available to stream now on Amazon Prime and is due to be broadcast on BBC Two later this year.

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