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Good Omens mini series is in the hands of a self-proclaimed “bastard”, thank Heavens

Aziraphale and Crowley

Armageddon just dropped. Okay, one version of Armageddon. And okay, a trailer of the one version of Armageddon.

It looks fun.

Good Omens, set to be a six-part Amazon TV series, is adapted from a 1990 novel of the same name. The bestseller was jointly written by Neil Gaiman (also the showrunner for the TV version) and the late Terry Pratchett, who passed away in 2015 after a valiant battle with Alzheimer’s.

Covering the birth of humanity to an imminent apocalypse, Good Omens follows the rollicking adventure that Aziraphale the angel (Michael Sheen) and Crowley the demon (David Tennant) shared while trying to track down the antichrist they misplaced and prevent the end of the world. With a cryptically clairvoyant witch, her descendant, a Newt, and four irate Horsemen of the Apocalypse, comedy of errors/calamity of terrors are a divine guarantee.

First peeks into the TV series are showing a lot of promise. For fans, the trailer – which crammed in as much bromance between Aziraphale and Crowley as it could – was like manna from the heavens. And an earlier announcement that the deity of badassery Frances McDormand will be “the Voice of God”? Much shit was lost.

But none of that tops what Gaiman told EW in July. It was the best assurance to me – a superfan of Terry Pratchett and Good Omens, in that order – that he’s got this.

What choice did Gaiman have when Pratchett, his best friend (“who had never asked for anything in 30 years of friendship”), implored him to make a great TV series out of the book they wrote together, and then died?

On top of that, both literary bigwigs have enough cult following worldwide to generate a crushing weight of expectation on the Good Omens TV series. No doubt, Gaiman feels the heat.

 

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Show running privilege: when you get to play with the flaming sword.

A post shared by Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) on

So Gaiman became, in his words, “much more of a bastard”. In the interview with EW, the celebrated author said that he is a lot more controlling about the production of Good Omens than any other of his works being put on screen previously.

Some plot points from the original book had to be deleted – which is to be expected, no matter how much that made my soul cry, given that they had to fit a 400-pager into six episodes. The good thing is that, according to Gaiman, the script expanded some parts based on the discussions he had with Pratchett about a possible Good Omens sequel, allowing us a taste of What Could Have Been.

That also means, in a way, Pratchett has a part in the production of the mini series too.

Perhaps one of the most exciting, ahem, revelations is the casting of Adam and Eve – they will be black. Their abode, the Garden of Eden, is set in Africa.

Credit: Amazon Studios
A still from the trailer, showing Eve (Schelaine Bennett) making history

This may not sit well with some audience, but Gaiman put it as only Gaiman can, “While I have no doubt we will offend our share of people on this show, I feel we should always do it intentionally.”

He went on to say that “if people are going to find this [Adam and Eve being black] as offensive, great. Let’s know that, and let’s own it.”

The rest of the showbiz needs to hear this, given that controversy is now the currency amidst the content glut. When done well, controversy can spark useful discussion (think Black Mirror). When handled poorly, it may backfire (think 13 Reasons Why and The Simpsons). It’s a fine line – one that takes guts to tread. It also means owning up to the choice and its consequences, not cower behind non-apologies and redirect public sentiments.

Can Good Omens tread that line? We’ll have to wait until the show comes out in 2019 – like all premonitions, you never know how solid the lead is until you get there.

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