Amazon Prime Review – Good Omens (Season 1): It’s the End of the World as We Know It and this Show’s… Okay?

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaboration is brought to the small screen.

SUMMARY

In the beginning, God (Frances McDormand) created the heavens and the Earth. This is generally regarded as a bad move. God then created people, which is just a giant mistake, because have you met people? Although, it did give us Douglas Adams, so maybe that’s a push. Well, in any case, people quickly got kicked out of paradise due to being tempted by a demon in the form of a snake. That demon, named Crowley (David Tennant), was sent to Earth by the forces of Hell to stir up trouble. Meanwhile, his counterpart, the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), who was supposed to guard the gates of Eden, is stuck on Earth opposing Crowley. Over the millennia, the two have grown fonder of Earth, and of each other, than they are of either Heaven or Hell. However, it turns out that the apocalypse is drawing nigh, so the two are determined to work together to stop the antichrist (Adam Taylor Young) from accidentally ending the world, along the way meeting one of the last witchfinders (Jack Whitehall) and a witch (Adria Arjona) following a series of prophecies by her own great-great-great-grandmother (Josie Lawrence).

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Also, Jon Hamm buys pornography poorly.

END SUMMARY

I always compared Good Omens to the song “Under Pressure.” It’s thoroughly enjoyable, to be sure, and the product of a collaboration between two absolutely brilliant minds, but it’s not the best product of either of the authors. That said, it’s still a really fun book and has a lot of amazing character moments that clearly arise by having the creations of two very different writing styles interacting. One thing that consistently works about the book are all of the fun intercalary passages depicting the strange things happening as the world approaches the end times and all of the fun prophecies put forth by Agnes Nutter.

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She also has the hottest execution on record.

This TV show is a solid adaptation of the material, but the material is difficult to adapt. The beauty of much of the writing of Good Omens is the almost lyrical language that the two authors carry into the narrative and the multitude of fun, well-developed characters.  Even with the huge amount of narration in this series, it’s still tough to get the humor to the screen without literally reading the entire thing. The series manages to do this well enough, mostly through having a lot of clever cuts and framing devices for different scenes. The fact that most of the characters are color coded and heavily distinctly costumed also helps to elaborate on their backstories without having to dwell on them. I particularly love what they did with the Antichrist’s friends, coloring them as the horsemen of the apocalypse. The thing is, though, they still can’t quite visually represent the same level of quirky humor and the endearing descriptions that are found in the novel. The show is definitely cute and funny, but only a handful of the scenes have any real staying power and only a few of the jokes really showcase the strengths of the source material.

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The Hellhound gag is still amazing, though.

There are a few highlights, though. First, Tennant and Sheen are just freaking magical in their scenes together. They really manage to convey “best frenemies” perfectly, with each of them clearly caring deeply for the other while making a show that they don’t. It’s pretty much summarized by a scene in the first episode where Aziraphale fiercely says “Get thee behind me, foul fiend,” before politely inviting him to enter the building, saying “after you.” One of the best sequences in the series is a depiction of their history from Egypt through the French Revolution.

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The Crucifixion was awkward, much like in real life.

Another highlight is that some of the characters are really well designed, particularly the demons. Almost all of the demons who are associated with flies are found with some type of insectivore living on their person, which is just funny. The angels are similarly depicted as being fussy and obsessed with order, particularly Gabriel (Jon Hamm), who loves human suits.

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Something he’s never done before.

The side-stories aren’t quite as good visually as they were when being described, mostly because a lot of them were just designed to be quick jokes that just colored the world, whereas the TV format kind of forces a little more time on them just to justify the expense of setting up the scene.

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Granted, if you get the four bikers of the apocalypse in costume, you use them.

Overall, it’s not the best show on TV, but it is definitely a pretty solid one. It’s fun and that’s about all it needed to be. I’d say give it a try if you have the time.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Lucifer Seasons 1-3: A Devil for the Sympathy

Once Upon A Time the Devil took a vacation.

SUMMARY

Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is your typical Los Angeles nightclub owner, except inasmuch as he is the Biblical Devil, an angel cast out of heaven who previously reigned over the damned in Hell. He’s typically assisted by the demon Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and opposed by his brother Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), who wants him to retake his position in Hell. One evening, a pop star whom he was attempting to help is gunned down in front of him. The investigating detective, Chloe Decker (Lauren German), surprises Lucifer by proving immune to his powers, intriguing him. He decides to become a civilian consultant to the LAPD in order to find out more about her and also to entertain himself.

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I’m straight, but this is truth in advertising.

Along the way he picks up a therapist named Dr. Linda Martin (Rachael Harris), a semi-rival in Decker’s ex husband Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), an unwanted mini-acolyte in Decker’s daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), and an unlikely friend ally in the devout Catholic LAPD forensic scientist Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia).

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Yeah, this is definitely a good looking cast.

END SUMMARY

The key to this show is the cast. The premise, while not boring, would get a little repetitive if everyone in it wasn’t just so damned charming, particularly Tom Ellis. Of course, his character is supposed to be superhumanly attractive and alluring, but it’s impressive how well he sells that. This version of the Devil is interesting because it’s a Devil who has just become bored with his role. It’s not quite the Lucifer of Paradise Lost, though it’s clear to see that Neil Gaiman drew a great deal of inspiration from Milton in creating this version of Satan. It’s that version several millennia down the line, realizing that reigning in Hell, while better than serving in Heaven, is still not that fulfilling. Also, I like that the show kept the comic version’s policy of never lying, since it both makes for hilarious scenes and also distinguishes him from the typical “Lord of Lies” image of Satan. The show never portrays Lucifer as outright evil in any way, he just has a different view of morality than most people.

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Ellis doesn’t resemble Bowie like comic Lucifer does, but… eh, see the first picture.

The rest of the cast is amazing and they all play off of each other perfectly. Some of my favorite episodes are when two of the characters that usually aren’t together are paired for a B-plot. It helps that the show does actually have the characters change over time as they interact with each other, something that they kind of needed after the relatively strict limitations they held during the first season.

The show’s sense of humor is one of the best features. Unlike most Urban Fantasies, the main character does not attempt to hide his supernatural existence at all, leading to amusing misunderstandings. Lucifer tells everyone he’s the Devil up front, but they all seem to think he’s talking metaphorically or that he’s just coping with some sort of past trauma. Granted, it turns out as the show goes on that Lucifer actually does consider his past to be a trauma, with his relationship with his father being integral to the character. It’s interesting to watch characters dissect the actions of a literally omnipotent and presumably omnibenevolent God (Neil Gaiman) from the perspective of the Devil, who is our sympathetic focal character. Most shows wouldn’t try this kind of thing and I’m happy the show plays it out.

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I mean, most people can’t make Satan likable, right Milton?

As the series goes on, the expansion of the mythology also helps keep it interesting, with Seasons 2 and 3 each having an added character that pretty much makes for the focus of the season’s arc.

Overall, I’m excited for the fourth and final season of the show, which was pretty much accomplished solely through the fan dedication to the series. I applaud Netflix for allowing shows to get their closure for the people that love them. If only they’d been around for that one series that had the spaceships

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.