Good Omens E01
It's been a while since I read this book from Messrs Pratchett and Gaiman.
Years in fact, so the details are hazy. That should help me treat this as a nice surprise for the Xmas season (as you can see I started this episode review ages ago but didn't get around to finishing it until the New Year).
So, in the beginning we have 'In the BEGINNING', Garden Of Eden, Angels, Demons and the Fall.All that malarkey.
The two main protagonists are introduced as Crawley and Aziraphale, Demon and Angel buddies, who are embroiled in mankinds' exit into the big bad world. They spend the next few thousand years going native and getting comfortable. It's a fine life being supernatural in the world of men.Living and LIVING (although within the bounds set by their respective bosses), the Angel is now a bookstore owner, the demon a corporate shark.
Then the inevitable happens and Judgement Day preparations begin. The Antichrist arrives in the form of a baby to be planted with an American Ambassador so the countdown to destruction 11 years later can begin...
Suffice to say, since this is a comedy , it doesn't pan out that way. Babies are tricky things, especially when you're trying to switch them around with only chatterbox satanist nuns (you don't get to type that very often!) for help, and a third unexpected infant in the mix.
Having read the book (which is great by the way. Two aspiring young authors, they may be ones to watch), I know there's a lot to cover, and in the main, one of the book's strengths is that there isn't a lot of padding, there are a lot of plot threads, and the production team should be applauded for trying to be so faithful.
There's a problem though.
Crawley, or Cowley as he wants to be called. Or rather Peter Serafinowicz's characterization.
His performance as Crowley is not what I was expecting. Speaking in a deep voice is all very well, but most of the time he comes across as slightly detached, almost narrating, very little apparent emotion. It deadens the comedy and comes across flat.
The picture I have of Crowley from my interpretation of the book (and I admit that everyone will have different visions in their head) , is one of a confident but ultimately very nervous figure, riding the ragged edge of destruction, one wrong move away from condemning everything to the Armageddon and desperate to prevent it, always trying worm his way out of his demonic obligations, and thoroughly horrified by the machinations of his 'Management' .
Like a condemned convict , frantically trying to convince the guy holding onto the electric chair switch that "It's a wonderful day for golfing, why don't you pop off for a quick 18 holes eh? I'll strap myself in and pull the lever myself , don't you worry about it. You can trust me .Right?"
This radio version of Crowley is too confident, too suave, it's being played a bit too much like a demonic James Bond - the George Lazenby one...
There is some counterpoint to this, Mark Heap is perfectly cast as Aziraphale, overly fussy, slightly bemused but not wet and ineffectual.
On a story level ,this episode is all just set up, the supernatural buddies try to influence the budding Antichrist to be a bit less keen on mass extinction, but both are having their respective divine (and not so) orders.
Things come to head when they realise that the demonic hell-hound despatched to be the child’s companion and guardian hasn't arrived, despite assurances from BELOW that it's been despatched and well on its way to its master.
Hound with master, Hound not here. Bugger!
Since we concentrate on this pair for the majority of episode 1 there's not really that much else to talk about.
It's an ok start, but not as entertaining as I was expecting, it seemed flat , stiff, which is odd given the depth of experience of the production team.
There are loads more eccentric characters and situations in this book, so I'm hoping that the future episodes perk up a bit. I hope things become a bit more engaging,as I found myself drifting a few times.
So on to Episode 2….