Good Omens
GenreFantasy comedy
Created byNeil Gaiman
Based on
Good Omens
by
Written by
Directed byDouglas Mackinnon
Starring
Voices of
Narrated byFrances McDormand (series 1)
Music byDavid Arnold
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes12
Production
Executive producers
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Caroline Skinner
  • Chris Sussman
  • Rob Wilkins
  • Rod Brown
CinematographyGavin Finney
Running time45–58 minutes
Production companies
Original release
Network
Release31 May 2019 (2019-05-31) –
present (present)

Good Omens is a British fantasy comedy television series created by Neil Gaiman based on his and Terry Pratchett's 1990 novel. A co-production between Amazon MGM Studios and BBC Studios, the series was directed by Douglas Mackinnon, with Gaiman also serving as showrunner. Michael Sheen and David Tennant lead a large ensemble cast that also includes Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Michael McKean, Derek Jacobi, Brian Cox, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Frances McDormand as the voice of God, who narrates the series.

Like the novel, Good Omens features various Christian themes and figures and follows various characters all trying to either encourage or prevent an imminent Armageddon, seen through the eyes of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley.

All episodes of the first series were released on Amazon Prime Video on 31 May 2019, and aired weekly on BBC Two in the UK between 15 January and 19 February 2020. Although the show's first series was conceived and marketed as a limited series, it was renewed for a second series in June 2021; Sheen and Tennant returned, along with most of the cast and crew. The second series was released in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video on 28 July 2023. Good Omens was renewed for its third and final series in December 2023.

Since its release, the series has well received among critics, with praise going towards particularly for Sheen and Tennant's performances, faithfulness to its source material, and David Arnold's musical score, earning him two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations for Outstanding Music Composition and Original Main Title Theme.

Premise

The first series, set in 2019, follows the demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), longtime acquaintances who have grown accustomed to each other's company, and to a pleasant life on Earth as representatives of Heaven and Hell, and who have agreed not to let the conflict between their sides prevent their friendship. When told that Armageddon is about to happen – the final battle between Heaven and Hell – they team up to prevent the coming of the Antichrist and the end of the pleasant existence they enjoy on Earth.[1]

The second series, set post-COVID-19 lockdown, concerns the Archangel Gabriel arriving without his memories to Aziraphale's bookshop. Aziraphale and Crowley attempt to find out what happened to Gabriel and to also hide him from Heaven and Hell, both of which are eager to find him.[2]

Cast and characters

Main

Good Omens stars (left to right) Michael Sheen, David Tennant, and Jon Hamm.

Starring

Recurring co-stars

Featured

Actors credited in the opening titles of episodes in which they play a significant role.

Recurring and guest

In series 1, Jonathan Aris appears as the Quartermaster Angel: an angel who gears up the angels for Armageddon. Adam Bond portrays Jesus, whose crucifixion is witnessed by Crowley and Aziraphale. Sanjeev Bhaskar portrays Giles Baddicombe, a lawyer. Steve Oram plays Horace, a motorist on the M25 hypnotised and burned alive by Crowley's sigil. Paul Kaye and Ben Crowe make vocal cameos: Kaye as a spokesman for an electricity board (impersonating the voice of Terry Pratchett) and Crowe as Freddie Mercury. Jayde Adams and Jenny Galloway play participants at Madame Tracy's seance. Dan Starkey plays a passerby comforting Aziraphale. Alistair Findlay and Jim Meskimen cameo as George W. Bush with Findlay physically portraying Bush and Meskimen voicing him. Kirsty Wark, Paul Gambaccini and Konnie Huq cameo as TV presenters. James Naughtie cameos as a radio presenter. Neil Gaiman cameos as a sleeping man in the cinema. Terry Pratchett's iconic hat and scarf appear in Aziraphale's bookshop.

In series 2, Tracy Wiles provides the voice of the elevator that goes to Heaven and Hell. Alex Norton plays Tulloch, a Scotsman who encounters Aziraphale.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodesOriginal release dateOriginally aired (UK)
First airedLast aired
1631 May 2019 (2019-05-31)15 January 2020 (2020-01-15)19 February 2020 (2020-02-19)
2628 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBATBA

Series 1 (2019)

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release dateOriginal UK air date
11"In the Beginning"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)15 January 2020
The angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley meet at the Garden of Eden, as Adam and Eve are expelled after Crowley tempted them with an apple. Fast forward to 11 years before Armageddon. Crowley delivers the Antichrist to a satanic convent, where the baby is to be given to an American diplomat and his family. However, a mix-up occurs and the Antichrist ends up with a middle-class English family, the Youngs. Crowley and Aziraphale meet to discuss the coming apocalypse. Aziraphale reluctantly agrees to work with Crowley. They decide that if each works to influence the boy Warlock, whom they believe to be the Antichrist, he will be neither good nor evil, just normal. In the present day, Crowley and Aziraphale attend his 11th birthday party but realize they have the wrong boy when a hellhound fails to appear. Meanwhile, the hellhound has found his master, Adam Young. Adam names him "Dog", unknowingly initiating Armageddon.
22"The Book"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)22 January 2020
Aziraphale assures his superiors Gabriel and Sandalphon all is well with the Antichrist. A parcel delivery man is sent to gather the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; War, in the form of a war correspondent, receives an ancient sword. In 1656, the prophetess Agnes Nutter is burned at the stake by Witchfinder Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer; Agnes causes an explosion, killing everyone present. Her book, The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, is left to her family and passed through the generations. Agnes' descendant, American occultist Anathema Device, studies the prophecies to find the Antichrist and save the world. Pulsifer's descendant, Newt, meets Shadwell, a modern-day witchfinder. Invited to join his crusade, Newt meets Shadwell's landlady, Madame Tracy, a part-time escort and faux medium. Visiting the former convent, now a corporate management retreat, Aziraphale and Crowley learn that all records were destroyed in a fire. Drawn to Tadfield, Anathema meets Adam and his friends. Aziraphale and Crowley collide with Anathema on the road and give her a lift home. She mislays her book in Crowley's car and Aziraphale reads it, realizing he holds the key to finding the Antichrist.
33"Hard Times"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)29 January 2020
A series of historical events illustrates Aziraphale and Crowley's growing relationship, ranging from Noah's Ark and the Crucifixion of Jesus through to 1960s Soho. They cross paths in Ancient Rome, Medieval England, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Revolutionary France, and London during the Blitz. During their time together they come to an arrangement that lets each do some of the other's work, saving time and travel. In the present day, at Jasmine Cottage, Adam and Dog find Anathema, upset at losing her book. Inviting them inside, she discusses environmental issues, which fascinate Adam. He leaves with a stack of magazines. Aziraphale and Crowley separately contract Shadwell to locate the Antichrist. Newt, the sole member of the "army", is sent to investigate the village of Tadfield. The second Horseman, Famine, in the form of Dr. Raven Sable, receives his package, a set of scales. Crowley and Aziraphale meet to discuss progress on finding the Antichrist. Aziraphale sidesteps the question of knowing his whereabouts. They argue and Aziraphale ends their "arrangement". That night, Adam falls asleep after poring over the magazines. His latent powers cause a nuclear reactor's core to vanish and be replaced with a sherbet lemon.
44"Saturday Morning Funtime"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)5 February 2020
Adam's dreams bring several magazine articles to life, including Atlantis and the Kraken. His controlling behavior worries his friends. Aziraphale fails to convince Gabriel to stop Armageddon, while his superiors question Aziraphale's loyalty after seeing proof of his meetings with Crowley. Crowley tries to talk Aziraphale into leaving Earth together. The last two Horsemen, Pollution and Death, are summoned. Driving to Tadfield, Newton crashes his car, and Adam and his friends take him to Anathema's cottage. Warlock's family arrives in Megiddo. There is no hellhound, and Hastur realizes Crowley lied about the Antichrist. Hastur and Ligur confront Crowley at his apartment, where Ligur is destroyed by holy water. Aziraphale phones Crowley admitting he's found the Antichrist, but Crowley is preoccupied with Hastur and hangs up. Hastur becomes trapped in Crowley's answering machine while Crowley grabs his keys and runs out. On the street, the angels Michael, Sandalphon, and Uriel physically confront Aziraphale, accusing him of "consorting with the enemy". At his bookshop, Aziraphale contacts God to try to stop Armageddon. Shadwell watches through the letterbox and, believing he is a demon, enters and confronts Aziraphale, who accidentally steps into the open portal and is transported to Heaven. As Shadwell leaves, he slams the door, knocking over a candle which ignites the bookshop.
55"The Doomsday Option"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)12 February 2020
Crowley races through London to find the bookshop in flames, with no sign of Aziraphale. In Heaven, Aziraphale refuses to join the war and, determined to stop Armageddon, leaves without a body. Crowley is getting drunk in a pub when Aziraphale's apparition appears. He learns his bookshop has burned down, but Crowley saved Agnes Nutter's book, with which Aziraphale worked out who and where the Antichrist is. They arrange to meet at Tadfield Airbase after Aziraphale finds a body to inhabit. He chooses Madame Tracy's body during a seance and convinces her and Shadwell to help stop Armageddon. Crowley is stuck on the M25 as a ring of fire surrounds London. Hastur, having escaped from the answering machine, appears next to him. Crowley drives the Bentley through the flames, using his imagination to believe the car is not on fire, while Hastur, not having any imagination, is discorporated and returned to Hell. Adam comes fully into his powers, scaring away his friends and Dog. This rejection returns Adam to his "human self". Anathema and Newt arrive at the air base, joining Shadwell, Aziraphale/Madame Tracy, Adam, and his friends. The Four Horsemen arrive and take over the base's global communications hub. Crowley arrives in his flaming Bentley as Adam declares: "I'M HERE."
66"The Very Last Day of the Rest of Their Lives"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman31 May 2019 (2019-05-31)19 February 2020
Adam restores Aziraphale's human vessel, and his friends confront and defeat War, Pollution, and Famine, after which Death takes his leave. Lord Beelzebub and Gabriel appear to ensure Adam re-starts Armageddon according to God's Great Plan, but he refuses. Satan emerges, but Adam, encouraged by Aziraphale and Crowley, renounces him, and restores the world to the state it was prior to the failed Armageddon. Found guilty of treason by their respective superiors, Aziraphale is ordered to be destroyed by hellfire, and Crowley is forced to enter a tub of holy water. To everyone's shock, both survive unharmed. Afraid of what the pair have become, Heaven and Hell agree to leave them alone on Earth. They switch back to their original bodies – Agnes Nutter's final prophecy had given them the key to surviving their executions. Life returns to normal for everyone. Madame Tracy and Shadwell decide to retire together in a cottage outside of London. The season ends with Aziraphale and Crowley enjoying lunch at the Ritz, making a toast "to the world".

Series 2 (2023)

No.
overall
No. in
series
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release dateOriginal UK air date
71"The Arrival"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
Before the beginning, the angel Crowley creates a nebula, but grows deeply disappointed when the angel Aziraphale informs him that his creation is intended merely for the entertainment of humans, and will be destroyed in 6000 years. In modern times, Gabriel has disappeared from Heaven, and both Heaven and Hell are eager to find him. Gabriel arrives without any memories to Aziraphale's bookshop, carrying only a large box with a fly inside. Aziraphale and Crowley perform a miracle to hide Gabriel from Heaven and Hell, but accidentally attract the angels' attention to the powerful miracle they performed, leading them to believe Gabriel is hiding in Aziraphale's bookshop.
82"The Clue"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
In 2500 BC, God grants Hell – in the form of Crowley – permission to visit horrific disasters on Job to test his faith. Aziraphale is horrified by the prospect of destroying Job's children, and he and Crowley (disguised as Bildad) trick the angels into thinking that Job's children are dead by hiding them in the form of lizards, then restore them, claiming they are the new children promised to Job by God. Aziraphale feels great guilt for thwarting the will of Heaven, and wonders if he did the right thing. In the present, Aziraphale is visited by Michael, Uriel, and Saraqael, who traced the miracle Aziraphale and Crowley performed to the bookshop, but the miracle prevents them from recognising Gabriel. They leave, still suspicious of Aziraphale, and promise to audit his miracle, which he claims was to make cafe owner Nina fall in love with his tenant, record shop owner Maggie. Beelzebub offers to drop the hostility towards Crowley in exchange for the information on where Gabriel is.
93"I Know Where I'm Going"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
Heaven sends junior angel Muriel to spy on Aziraphale and audit the miracle. Muriel is clueless about life on Earth and is easily misdirected. In 19th century Edinburgh, Crowley and Aziraphale chance upon a poor girl, Elspeth, who robs graves and sells the corpses to doctors to support herself and her friend Morag. Aziraphale considers her deeds to be wrong and sabotages her sale, but after the doctor explains the corpses help medical science understand how to treat living people, he changes his mind about Elspeth's deeds. Elspeth, Morag, Crowley and Aziraphale try to dig up another corpse, but Morag is killed by a trap protecting the grave. Elspeth sells Morag's corpse to the doctor, then tries to die by poison, but Crowley prevents her from doing so; he forces Aziraphale to give her enough money to escape poverty and live a better life.
104"The Hitchhiker"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
The demon Shax hitches a lift with Aziraphale as he drives Crowley’s Bentley back from Edinburgh, and deduces that Gabriel is hiding in the bookshop. In the 1940s, three Nazi agents go to Hell after they were killed by a falling bomb (in “Hard Times”). When they mention Crowley and Aziraphale, the demon Furfur offers to spare them eternal damnation and resurrect them as zombies if they spy for him; he hopes to get proof that the demon and angel are consorting to advance his rank in Hell. Aziraphale is invited to perform magic on the West End; he plans to perform a potentially lethal trick, and with Crowley's aid, he manages to perform it successfully. Furfur takes a photo of the pair's cooperation. He goes to present the proof to the Hell Council, not knowing Aziraphale switched the photo with a West End poster. Back in the present, Shax, with the permission of Beelzebub, plans to storm the bookshop.
115"The Ball"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
Aziraphale uses a miracle to transform a shopkeepers’ meeting into a Regency-style ball, hoping the Jane Austen-inspired atmosphere will get Maggie and Nina together. Shax requisitions a small number of demons via Furfur and prepares to storm the bookshop, but cannot cross the threshold as they have not been invited in. Shax threatens to kill all the humans in the shop unless they surrender Gabriel. Gabriel surrenders himself, but Aziraphale and Crowley’s earlier miracle prevents the demons from recognizing him, and they continue to threaten the bookshop. Crowley stalls for time and evacuates most of the human guests, then forces Muriel to arrest him and bring him to Heaven.
126"Every Day"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman and John Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)TBA
While Aziraphale, Nina and Maggie fend off the demons, Crowley discovers the reason for Gabriel's disappearance: he refused to support a second attempt at Armageddon, and was demoted from his position as an Archangel and wiped of all his memories. Crowley returns to the bookshop, where Aziraphale has successfully fended off the demons and accidentally declared war on Hell. Beelzebub appears, and reveals that Gabriel's memories were hidden in the fly inside the box that Gabriel had been carrying. Gabriel's memories – including those of him conducting a romance with Beelzebub – are restored. He and Beelzebub choose to abandon Heaven and Hell and leave for Alpha Centauri. The Metatron arrives and offers Aziraphale Gabriel's former position and the ability to restore Crowley's status as an angel. Crowley prepares to confess his feelings to Aziraphale. Aziraphale informs Crowley that he plans to accept the Metatron's offer. Crowley asks Aziraphale to abandon Heaven and Hell with him, just as Gabriel and Beelzebub did. Aziraphale asks Crowley to instead return to Heaven as an angel and work with him. Crowley refuses and kisses him. Aziraphale leaves Earth (and Crowley) to go work for Heaven, where the Metatron informs him that his task will be to enact the Second Coming.

Minisodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Good Omens: Lockdown"Douglas MackinnonNeil Gaiman1 May 2020 (2020-05-01)
Aziraphale and Crowley talk over the phone about how they’re dealing with the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2"A Companion to Owls"Douglas MackinnonJohn Finnemore28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)
In 2500 BC, Crowley is sent to torment Job. Aziraphale discovers Crowley has permission from God, who is trying to settle a bet with Satan. Crowley and Aziraphale end up working together to save Job's children, leading to Aziraphale's first taste of earthly pleasures, and his first defiance of Heaven. Presented as part of “The Clue”.
3"The Resurrectionists"Douglas MackinnonCat Clarke28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)
In 1827 Edinburgh, Aziraphale and Crowley encounter a poor grave robber and find the line between good and bad deeds on Earth isn’t always clear. Presented as part of “I Know Where I’m Going”.
4"Nazi Zombie Flesheaters"Douglas MackinnonJeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman28 July 2023 (2023-07-28)
In 1941 London, Crowley comes to Aziraphale’s aid when his books and magic career are threatened by three Nazis resurrected by Hell as zombies. Presented as part of “The Hitchhiker”.

Good Omens: Lockdown was released via YouTube close to the thirtieth anniversary of the original novel’s publication. Series 2's minisodes are not released separately, but incorporated into episodes two, three and four as extended flashbacks.

Production

Development

See also: In other media

Promotional poster

Pratchett and Gaiman had planned to adapt Good Omens as a movie for years, with various directors and writers attached to the project along the way. In 2011, a television series, written by Terry Jones and Gavin Scott, was first reported to be in the works but no further plans were announced.[6] After Pratchett's death, Gaiman refused to ever consider working on the adaptation alone but changed his mind when he received a letter from Pratchett, written to be sent after his death, urging him to finish the project.[7]

On 19 January 2017, it was announced that Amazon Prime Video and the BBC had commissioned a television series adaptation of the novel to be produced in the United Kingdom by the BBC. Distribution of the series was licensed to Amazon, and handled by BBC Worldwide in territories where Amazon Prime Video doesn't operate.[8][9] Executive producers were set to include Gaiman, Caroline Skinner, Chris Sussman, Rob Wilkins, and Rod Brown. Gaiman was also set to adapt the novel for the screen and serve as showrunner for the series. Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of BBC Studios, Narrativia, and The Blank Corporation.

On 29 June 2021, the series was renewed for a second series consisting of six episodes.[10] In July 2023, Gaiman discussed the possibility of a third series, which was planned and would serve as the final series, though writing on it had been affected by the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike.[11]

Gaiman's initial writing around the announcement of season two mentioned the proposed sequel to Good Omens devised by him and Terry Pratchett during the World Science Fiction Convention in Seattle in 1989, the year before the book was published.[12] In the lead-up to the second season's release, he clarified that this was not the basis of the second season's plot, as he "didn't feel that we could drive straight from season one into that". Season two is instead a new story, intended to act as a bridge between the original and the sequel, which would form the basis for a third season, if it is produced.[13]

The third series was announced in December 2023.[14][15]

Casting

Sheen as Aziraphale and Tennant as Crowley while filming.

On 14 August 2017, it was announced that Michael Sheen and David Tennant had been cast in the lead roles of Aziraphale and Crowley, respectively.[16] On 14 September 2017, Gaiman revealed on Twitter that Nina Sosanya, Ned Dennehy, and Ariyon Bakare had joined the main cast.[17] A day later, Jack Whitehall, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson, and Adria Arjona were announced as series regulars.[18] A week after that, Sam Taylor Buck, Amma Ris, Ilan Galkoff, Alfie Taylor, Daniel Mays, and Siân Brooke were also cast.[19] In October 2017, it was reported that Jon Hamm, Anna Maxwell Martin, Mireille Enos, Lourdes Faberes, and Yusuf Gatewood had joined the main cast.[20][21] In November 2017, it was reported that Reece Shearsmith and Nicholas Parsons had also been cast.[22][23] On 15 December 2017 it was reported that Derek Jacobi would voice the Metatron.[24]

On 9 February 2018 it was announced that Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss had joined the series.[25] On 6 March 2018, it was announced that Nick Offerman had been cast in a series regular role.[26] On 20 July 2018, it was announced during Amazon's San Diego Comic-Con panel that Frances McDormand had been cast as the voice of God as well as the series' narrator.[27] On 13 February 2019, Neil Gaiman announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would voice Satan, with the character itself being computer-generated imagery (CGI).[28]

Filming

The 109 days of principal photography for the series took place over a six-month period beginning 18 September 2017 and ending in early March 2018.[29][30] Shooting began throughout the UK with subsequent filming taking place in and around Cape Town, South Africa.[30] In October 2017, the production was spotted filming in Surrey.[31] The series also filmed in St James's Park and Tavistock Square in London and Hambleden.[32] The Soho area of London representing the street and Aziraphale's bookshop was created and shot in Hertfordshire at Bovingdon Airbase.[30] A vacant building in Weybridge, Surrey served as Heaven's corporate headquarters, and Hogback Wood, the location for Adam and his friends, was also filmed in Surrey. Bulstrode Park, just outside Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, with its mansion and grounds, was used for the satanic convent/hospital and later the corporate training center. The American Army base was located and filmed in Upper Heyford, in Oxfordshire. The Weald and Downland Living Museum in West Sussex was used to film Agnes Nutter's burning at the stake. It was shot over a two-day period in October 2017.[29]

The car in the novel is a 1926 Bentley, but neither Gaiman nor Pratchett really knew what a 1926 model looked like when they wrote Good Omens. For the television series, a 1933 model which had more of the look Gaiman had in mind was used.[33] The Bentley used in filming is valued at £250,000.[29] The second series began filming in later 2021 in Scotland.[34]

Title sequence

Good Omens' opening title sequence, created by the London-based Peter Anderson Studio, features music by David Arnold.[35] When Douglas Mackinnon approached Anderson about the title sequence, Mackinnon said that he wanted something "over the top". His idea was to communicate the coming of Armageddon while also showing the humor and "fantastical tone", Crowley and Aziraphale's friendship, and the idea that good and evil are in everyone.[36] The project was a new style of design by Anderson and his studio, and a unique design for a television series. Anderson described the result as "a totally bonkers mishmash of all animation styles in a way where they feel as if they belong together".[37][38]

The actual production used physical props, animation, illustration, 3D and some live-action motion, to depict the approaching apocalypse and clash between Heaven and Hell.[38] Studio employees were filmed in costume, on green screen; they were then cut out and animations were created.[38] Each of the characters has either Crowley's or Aziraphale's face.[36]

The title sequence incorporates all the characters from the series as they move towards the Apocalypse.[37] Included are Crowley's Bentley in front of Aziraphale's bookshop, the Chattering Order of St. Beryl's nuns, Shadwell and Madame Tracy, the hellhound, flying saucers, the appearance of Death, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Crowley's work on London's M25 is featured in the parade, along with various towns and areas of the world.[39] In the end, characters fall from earth, landing either in Heaven or Hell,[37] leading into the Good Omens title artwork.[36] The entire sequence runs one minute and 40 seconds.[37]

Costumes

Claire Anderson was the costume designer for Good Omens.[40] She received a 2019 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes for Episode 3, Hard Times.[41] Early design centered on main characters Aziraphale and Crowley; Anderson worked closely with actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant to design their modern-day looks.[29] Once created, they were an important influence on their other attire throughout history.[40]

Crowley's look reflects his transformation into human form from a serpent. The costume is modern, black, almost goth-like in style, including a "snake head" belt buckle. He often wears dark glasses to conceal his serpent eyes.[42] His outfits always have a hint of red, including red soles on his shoes or red lining on his gloves, representing his demon snake's red belly. His jackets had a red lining on the underside of the collar.[43] Aziraphale's outfits were the opposite of Crowley's, reflecting his ethereal nature.[42] His angel-inspired costumes included cuff-links, a signet ring, and a pocket watch, all containing angel wings.[43] His off-white color palette and style maintained a Victorian Era look through modern times, with oversized lapels and shoulders representing his Angel wings.[43]

Other costume inspirations came from details described in the Pratchett/Gaiman 1990 book. The modern-day character, Anathema Device, distantly related to prophetess Agnes Nutter, wears a Victorian "witchy look." Actor Jack Whitehall, as would-be witch-hunter Newt Pulsifer, was dressed with coat badges and epaulets with the accent color mustard, merging modern geeky Newt with his 17th-century ancestor.[29] He also wanted the "odd socks" from the book incorporated into his costume.[40] Claire Anderson's idea for Jon Hamm, as Angel Gabriel, was to look perfect. She found the material on Bond Street; it was "light, ethereal and ephemeral."[44] The suits were cashmere and made by Italian label Zegna. Hamm wore lilac contact lenses to emphasize the lilac in his "pearl gray" suit.[44] The Satanic Nuns of the Chattering Order's costumes were created to look like regular nun habits but with a demonic undertone. Anderson looked at nuns through the years and chose to use "peaky hats", which had a more witch-like feeling rather than an evil one.[29] The costumes included a luciferian pendant and symbolic watches.[43] The demons from Hell, Lord Beelzebub, Duke Hastur and Ligur, wore carefully blackened clothing with shredded hems to appear as if scorched in Hell.[29] Mr and Mrs. Young, the Antichrist Adam's parents, were dressed in a nostalgic, "timeless and comforting" 1950s look to represent their dependability. Anderson used her own parents' friends as inspiration.[29] Sergeant Shadwell is "grubby", wearing drab colors reflecting it. His defining look is a jacket with elements of a uniform to represent his Witchfinder Army role.[29] Madame Tracy wore costumes reflecting her dual jobs as psychic reader and sex worker. "Flowing gowns" and colours reflecting "kookiness" were used for her mystic persona, while an ostentatious kimono represented her "lady of the night" role.[29] Many costumes had visual effects, added later, which required small tape markers in the shape of green crosses on people's bodies.[45]

The cold opening, featuring a flashback through history in Episode 3, required costumes representing historical periods from the Garden of Eden in 4004 BC to Soho, London in 1967.[46] Anderson took inspiration from pre-Raphaelite paintings, and from hippie clothes from the movie Serpico.[46] Throughout the epochs, each costume reflected the period as well as the Angel/Demon aspect of the characters. The scene with Crowley and Aziraphale in armor has black throughout Crowley's armor while Aziraphale's is silvery and light.[43] A snakeskin-like texture is part of the robes and gowns Crowley wears in ancient times.[42]

Special effects

London-based Milk VFX was chosen to create all the visual effects for Good Omens.[47] Jean-Claude Deguara, co-founder, began work in the pre-production, pre-script stage of the series. During pre-production, the six scripts were broken down to work out how the visual effects (VFX) could interact effectively with the story in each episode.[48] Neil Gaiman was a constant source of help as he could quote from the book to help with creative decisions.[48] The goal was to use in-camera shots wherever possible.[29] The Noah's Ark scene in Episode 3 used live-action elements wherever possible, including the smaller animals; larger animals were added in post-production.[49] Special effects were to be used as part of the scene and "grounded in reality", not to stand out on their own. Sixty visual-effect specialists, the most Milk had used on a single project, worked over a two-year period to create a wide range of effects;[49] 650 CGI shots were created for the six episodes.[50] Post-production time was five months.[48]

Deguara and his crew created a wide range of effects including creatures, environments, and fire.[49] Among the environments created was a penthouse for Heaven with "ever-changing" views of the famous landmarks of the world.[29] The escalator to Hell was filmed in a modern office building in London using real-time cinematography as well as a green screen for special effects depicting Crowley's descent from the lobby.[29] The Soho site for Aziraphale's bookshop, built at Bovington Airfield, used a green screen to extend the streets in post-production. The site was used because Aziraphale's bookshop had to burn down with real fire, not just visual effects, which wasn't possible in Soho.[29] The opening scene of Episode 1 at the Garden of Eden, filmed in South Africa, included "many green screen and interactive VFX" to create a big visual effects scene.[51] Episode 4 featured a visual effect of Crowley (David Tennant) flying through the telephone system, chased by Hastur, the Duke of Hell (Ned Dennehy).[29] Tennant was in a rig that allowed him to "twist and roll at speed", while Dennehy used a wire. Digitally-created "glitch-type movements" were created to make Tennant's part look realistic and to hide the rig.[48]

Crowley's Bentley, prominently seen through the series, is often shown racing through London at speeds over 100 mph.[49] The car had to look authentic, but no real Bentley would have been able to go this fast.[33] The filming was one of the first effects Milk VFX learned about. After locating a real Bentley, CGI assets were created for the scenes on the street as well as inside the Bentley.[49] The car used is actually a combination of five different CGI, real, and built versions. The Bentley that blew up in Episode 6 is real; the interior was removed and the exterior blown up.[33] Rather than using digital effects to create the scenery as Crowley is driving, director of photography Gavin Finney used an older technique called rear projection. Films are first made of passing scenery from all sides of a moving vehicle; then, on the set, the filmed scenes are projected onto a screen. Finney explained: "It means you see the footage as well as reflections on the glass or the driver's face, say as the vehicle goes under trees, while it also works as a lighting source."[29]

The model for the hellhound was a Great Dane dog with similar coloring to the small dog used later.[49] Using a blue screen, the live dog was filmed, then partially enlarged in CGI to create the monstrous head and neck.[52] The effect was used for a couple of scenes, but the transformation to a small dog used a real dog.[49] The final episode features a confrontation between Adam Young, the child Antichrist, and Satan, his "father who is no longer in Heaven". The original concept of Satan was much more "hellish"; however, Neil Gaiman wanted a more human form of the 500-foot-tall creature, rather than including "hellfire" and over-the-top demonic action.[53] Certain effects were scaled back in the rise of Satan from Hell so that the focus became the more "human" interaction between a father and a rebellious son who rejects him.[54] Sound effects, such as body sounds, rocks, and moving earth, were used to emphasize Satan's size and power.[54] Other visual effects included a short demon named Usher, sacrificed to test holy water; a kraken rising in the sea; wings for Crowley and Aziraphale; and maggots overwhelming a call center when Hastur escapes after being trapped in Crowley's voicemail.[53] Crowley's snake eyes were created using contact lenses for the most part, but were digitally enhanced for close-ups.[49]

Music

Good Omens features music written by Emmy winning composer David Arnold, along with quite a few Queen songs throughout the series. Arnold received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Main Title theme and for the episode "In the Beginning."[55] He said his work on Good Omens was unlike any he had done.[55] "It might be the hardest I've worked on anything."[55] He described the series as "a universe-sized show in need of a universe-sized score."[56] He called the opening theme "a kind of wicked, slightly, devilish, Mephistophelean waltz—it has a feeling of twirling, out-of-control-ness."[57] He rewrote the main theme for the end credits of each episode to reflect what happened in it.[58]

Arnold used unusual instrumentation to create themes for episodes and themes,[55] including lutes, lyres, bass brass and drums, and harps, depending on their imagery or emotion.[55] He wanted to combine "heavenly" and "satanic" elements so that when something sounded good, there was also an element of bad. He said, "Whenever there was a sweet violin, there would be its nasty brother lurking alongside it."[58] The use of Queen's music, reflecting a running gag of the novel where every tape Crowley put on his car stereo turned out to be of said band,[59] included a brass band arrangement of "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon". Arnold was a Queen fan as a teenager, studying how they created sounds,[56] and said the choirs and chorale sounds in certain parts of the series reflected this influence.[55]

Release

Good Omens interview at New York Comic Con in October 2018. Front: Richardson, Gaiman, and Tennant. Rear: Sheen, Hamm, and Mackinnon

The six episodes of the first series were released on Amazon Prime Video on 31 May 2019,[60] and aired weekly on BBC Two between January 15 and 19 February 2020.[61][62]

David Tennant and Michael Sheen reprised their respective roles in voice-only form for a 3-minute short titled "Good Omens: Lockdown" which was released on YouTube on 1 May 2020. The short imagines how their characters might be doing in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.[63]

The second series was released in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video on 28 July 2023.[64]

Marketing

First series' trailer title card[65]

On 6 October 2018, the series held a panel at the annual New York Comic Con in New York City. It was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg and featured creator Neil Gaiman, director Douglas Mackinnon, and cast members Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm and Miranda Richardson. During the panel, the series' first trailer was premiered and subsequently released online.[66][67]

AT SXSW 2019, Amazon Prime hosted a Good Omens "Garden of Eden" Party in Austin, Texas during the entire week of the festival. The party was hosted by performers dressed as angels and demons, with free food, hair and nail services, and a complimentary bar. David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Jon Hamm, Douglas Mackinnon and Neil Gaiman made guest appearances, and an episode of the series received an early screening at the Zach Theatre. A party hosted at the Garden by Entertainment Weekly featured a fire-breather and a Queen cover band. Good Omens-branded umbrellas and tote bags were handed out at the pop-up experience, and the Garden featured a petting zoo full of local puppies called "Hell Hounds".[68]

Reception

Critical response

Michael Sheen
David Tennant
Michael Sheen and David Tennant received critical acclaim for their performances as Aziraphale and Crowley.

The first series of Good Omens has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 84% with an average score of 7.3/10, based on 100 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "A smörgåsbord of heavenly imagery and irreverent hilarity, Good Omens works thanks to Michael Sheen and David Tennant's very-nearly-holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry – though, at only six episodes long, it's a rare adaptation that may have benefited from being a little less faithful to the good book."[69] On Metacritic, it has a score of 66 out of 100 based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[70]

The second series also received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 87% with an average score of 7.4/10, based on 60 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Boding well for the series' longevity, Good Omens' second season is even more splendid than the first."[71] On Metacritic, it has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[72]

Petition for cancellation

An online petition erroneously requesting that Netflix cancel Good Omens reportedly received more than 20,000 signatures from people objecting to its content, perhaps unaware that it was actually on Amazon and had already been released in full. The petition, posted as part of a campaign by US religious organization Return to Order, criticized the show's irreverent treatment of topics relating to satanism and the devil, and the use of a female voice for God. The original petition was removed from the site, corrected and reposted.[73][74]

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2019 Golden Trailer Award Best Comedy Poster for a TV/Streaming Series Good Omens Nominated [75]
Saturn Awards Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action, & Fantasy Series Good Omens Nominated [76]
Best Actor in a Streaming Presentation David Tennant Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Presentation Michael Sheen Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Claire Anderson, Bobbie Edwards, Beth Lewis Nominated [77]
Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score) David Arnold Nominated
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music David Arnold Nominated
Comedy.co.uk Awards Best TV Comedy Drama Good Omens Won [78]
Best Comedy of the Year Good Omens Won
Dragon Award Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series Good Omens Won [79]
Online Film & Television Association (OFTA) Television Award Best Make-Up/Hairstyling in a Non-Series Good Omens Nominated [80]
Best New Theme Song in a Series Good Omens Nominated
National Television Award Best Comedy Good Omens Nominated [81]
C21 International Drama Award Best English Language Drama (Series) Good Omens Nominated [82]
TV Times Award Favourite On-Demand Show Good Omens Won [83]
Nebula Award Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Neil Gaiman (Episode: "Hard Times") Won [84]
2020 IFMCA Award Best Original Score for a Television Series David Arnold Nominated [85]
BSC Award Best Cinematography in a Television Drama Gavin Finney (Episode: "Hard Times") Nominated [86]
Sandford St Martin Award Radio Times Readers' Award Good Omens Won [87]
Tell-Tale TV Awards Favorite Limited Series or TV Movie Good Omens Won [88]
Favorite Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie Frances McDormand Won
Favorite Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie David Tennant Won
Michael Sheen Nominated
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Neil Gaiman, Douglas Mackinnon Won [89]
Peabody Award Entertainment Good Omens Nominated [90]
BAFTA TV Craft Award Special, Visual & Graphic Effects Milk Visual Effects, Gareth Spensley, Real SFX Nominated [91]
Scottish Comedy Award Best Actor David Tennant Won [92]
European Science Fiction Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Good Omens Won [93]
2024 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Good Omens Pending [94]

See also

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