Thanks to social media, a filmmaker can keep sneaking you on the set of their latest project without begging for Entertainment Tonight to give them the time. They can easily post updates in casting, photos of actors in costume and even teaser clips to get an audience eager for the finished movie. If you’ve followed the writer Neil Gaiman’s Twitter feed over the last few years, you’ve been staring over his shoulder while he committed to the Herculean task of adapting Good Omens to the screen. He didn’t merely write the script adaptation of the novel he co-wrote with Sir Terry Pratchett back in 1990. Nearly three decades later Gaiman produced the film and acted as the showrunner producer and not merely the producer who shows up on the set for a few publicity photos. He teamed up with director Douglas Mackinnon (Jekyll and Doctor Who) to finally bring the novel to life. Instead of trying to cram the 298 pages into two hours, Good Omens was allowed to breath as a six part miniseries. Now the fruit of Gaiman’s labors has arrived on Blu-ray to show all the care and detail that went into the production.
Since God created Adam and Eve, the angel Aziraphale (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans‘s Michael Sheen) and the demon Crowley (Doctor Who‘s Michael Tennant) have been with people. Of course they’ve been on different sides of humanity. Crowley was the serpent that tempted Eve to eat and share the forbidden fruit with Adam. Aziraphale had given the couple a forbidden device when they were sent into exile from Eden. These two were there for everything. While they were working for two different sides, both the angel and the devil created a forbidden friendship. The two have learned to enjoy what the humans create. They don’t feel stuck on Earth. This is why both of them aren’t too happy when word comes down that Antichrist is being born and Armageddon will commence with the ultimate battle between angels and devils. The antichrist is supposed to be swapped with the baby of the American ambassador to the United Kingdom (Nick Offerman) at an out of the way religious hospital run by the Sisters of the Chattering Order. They are secretly Satanic. But the plan goes off the rails when a local couple has to use the hospital to deliver their own baby that same night. A switch up occurs and the Young family goes home with the Antichrist while everyone thinks the ambassador has the child that might bring about the end of the world. While the angel and devil try to influence the ambassador’s son to not want to destroy the world, the Young’s son discovers his powers. The only person who seem to have a clue about the real antichrist is Anathema Device (Adria Arjona) because she is descended from occultist Agnes Nutter who predicted it all. Can the world be saved from the desires of Heaven and Hell?
The production has a high level cast including Miranda Richardson, Jon Hamm, Frances McDormand and Jack Whitehall. Michael McKean will astonish those who only know him from Laverne and Shirley. He is Witchfinder Sargent Shadwell who gets tangled up in the spiritual mystery while doing his job. McKean imbues the character with an accent that makes him sound like a former member of The Fall that was fired by Mark E. Smith in 1987. This might be the greatest performance as an Englishman by an American actor. The special effects truly give a sense of otherworldliness. You can visually believe Crowley drives a flaming Rolls Royce while blasting Queen. And that’s a big thing, the soundtrack features real songs from Queen. After following Gaiman’s Tweets, there was a fear that this can’t be as cool as the snippets from the set appeared. But it is.
Good Omens is one of the finest miniseries ever adapted from a novel. It’d be easy to put it up with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. But this production is so magnificent that it rates up their with the finest of British television such as I, Claudius and Brideshead Revisted. Neil Gaiman could have just signed away his film rights to Hollywood for a fat paycheck. But he wanted to create a production that would make the late Terry Pratchett proud. Good Omens is delivers on all the humor from the novel and fulfills the promise of seeing the end of the world on the screen.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution lets you see the end of the world so clearly. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The fire scenes burn around your ears. The French and Spanish dubs are in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The movie is subtitled in English, French and Spanish.
Page to Screen (6:24) has Neil Gaiman speak about adapting his and Sir Terry Pratchett’s novel. Sheen speaks of getting into Neil’s work with the Sandman comic books. Adria Arjona speaks of being nervous since she wasn’t auditioning for the producer, but the creator of the character. Neil speaks of the hugeness of the project. Jon Hamm talks about how people wanted to be part of this world.
Aziraphale’s World (4:44) has Michael Sheen explain his angel character who enjoys the human life.
Bookshop Tour (5:24) lets Neil Gaiman point out the details of the space. I get the idea that Neil wants to take this home with him (if he hasn’t already). He points out Terry Prachett’s hat and scarf.
Crowley’s World (4:11) reminds us that Crowley’s name was Crawley when we first meet the demon. David Tennant talks of the trouble making qualities of his character and his forbidden friendship with Aziraphale. He points out that the two don’t want to see the end of the world because they like being a part of humanity including the music of Queen.
Audio commentaries for all 6 episodes has Neil Gaiman, director Douglas Mackinnon and other cast and crew talk about the production. Neil points out the opening of Good Omens explaining the set up was a tip of the hat to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Good Omens trailer (1:37) sets up this massive tale of how Armageddon was put into motion. We are promised a battle between Heaven and Hell.
Characters of Good Omens (1:49) has Michael Sheen, David Tennant and Jon Hamm give thumbnail descriptions of their characters.
The World of Good Omens (1:12) has the cast discuss the scope of the story. Sheen was a major fan of the book.
Deleted Scenes (10:23) has scenes that were sliced out early in postproduction since the special effects aren’t close to created. This bare footage does show us how certain shots were done. We get a sense of the Soho set that had the bookshop. The deleted moments include Crowley taking out the cellphones of London, the angel saves a baby buggy and more Africa footage.
Storyboard Gallery (4:54) sets up what the camera should be getting during the shoot. It’s like a comic book version of the script. You have to prep in preproduction since there’s so many special effects to be mixed with the shots.
Concept Art Gallery (3:48) are various mock ups and paintings used to determine the sets, characters and props used in the miniseries.
Costume Design Gallery (1:15) is getting a sense of the look and wardrobe of the characters.
Queen compilation (12:22) points out that Crowley’s love of Queen was in the original novel. This special feature allows us to know what Queen songs were played in the miniseries.
Good Omens VFX reel (3:22) breaks down the visual so you know how things were composited and created in post production.
BBC Studios presents Good Omens. Directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Screenplay by: Neil Gaiman. Starring: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Nick Offerman, Adria Arjona, Miranda Richardson, Michael McKean, Jack Whitehall & Jon Hamml. Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 342 minutes on 2 Bluray discs. Released: November 5, 2019.
Tags: BBC, Doctory Who, Good Omens, Neil Gaiman