Friday, May 31, 2019

REVIEW: 'Good Omens' - Aziraphale and Crowley Work Together to Stop the End of the World in 'In the Beginning'

Amazon's Good Omens - Episode 1.01 "In the Beginning"

Aziraphale and Crowley, of Heaven and Hell respectively, agree to join forces in order to prevent Armageddon. They attempt to raise the Antichrist in a balanced and human way, but are they focusing their efforts in the right direction?

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Amazon's Good Omens.

"In the Beginning" was written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Douglas Mackinnon

The apocalypse is upon us. That's the central premise for this show based on the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It's certainly an imaginative version of the end of the world as told with a comedic and tragic tone. Of course, it also aspires to analyze what it truly means to be good and evil as well as how those two forces are frequently pitted against each other. Angels are universally suppose to be the symbols of good. Demons are expected to encompass all that's evil. To both sides in this conflict, war has always seemed inevitable. It has long been foretold by the gods they worship. This entire hour is narrated by God herself. That's an amusing commentary on everything that's going on. It's fun because it's Frances McDormand providing the narration. Of course, it also means this premiere is full of exposition and the need to explain every single detail even when it's apparent and understood by the audience long before the fact. That too could point to some troubling times for this adaptation. It's an expansive scoop of the apocalypse. However, it's all told through the kindred spirit relationship between an angel and a demon. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth influencing humans since the very beginning. They were there in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. And they are still around in the present day playing central roles in the coming war between Heaven and Hell. It's very exciting. However, it puts things into context right away that this angel and demon aren't universally good or bad. They simply exist as complicated individuals who have grown accustomed to the way of the world. They don't understand why it has to end now. They haven't gotten bored with their existences in this reality. They are still loved by their respective bosses. They believe they are doing a good job with their fundamental tasks. And yet, the Antichrist has been delivered to Crowley. He symbolizes the end of days. The clock starts ticking right away. Crowley and Aziraphale only have eleven years to prevent the conflict that has long been expected by everyone throughout the universe. They believe they can do so by making the Antichrist as normal as any other human being. If they both exert their influence, then he will be raised as an average person. Of course, the show flourishes with the absurdity of this child not actually being the Antichrist at all. There is a huge mix-up at the convent for satanic nuns where the Antichrist is placed with the wrong family. The show is overly delighted with that reveal and how it compromises everything for the central conflict. Of course, it's a little too smug and twee about it as well. There would be no point to the show if the apocalypse wasn't destined to occur. This opening mishap mostly just showcases how Crowley and Aziraphale aren't perfect in their jobs. They constantly fear that they are making mistakes. Crowley can sense when the hound of Hell has found the Antichrist and bonded with him. And yet, he has no idea where the Antichrist actually is. As such, this is just a looming threat that is out there. Crowley and Aziraphale both want to stop it while everyone else is preparing for war because they see that as the only solution that can prove once and for all whether good or evil is better. The process though just means the destruction of everything with God mostly just as the omnipresent narrator who is merely observing the actions of the world without interacting with it to potentially influence things. That too runs the risk of leaving the viewer removed from engaging fully with everything that is going on.