Book Adaptations: Best Additions to ‘Good Omens’

Screenshot of Michael Sheen and David Tennant from ‘Good Omens’. Copyright goes to Narrativia, The Blank Corporation, Amazon Studios, and BBC Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

Today I would usually write a Twins in Media post, but from here on out this week is going to get a little hectic with schedules. It is the week of Christmas, after all. Nevertheless, I do want to give you some geeky goodness today, and after some new merch was FINALLY announced for this series, I thought it only fitting that I talk about my favorite book adaptation of all time. Between the acting, the accuracy to the original content, and the very likable leads, there isn’t much to dislike about this show. However, there are some differences from the book. While there are some things that were added to the show some might not find favorable, I find that most of Neil Gaiman’s additions to it were fitting. He’s one of the original authors of the book so I tend to trust his judgement on most of these things. With that said, let’s go through my favorite additions to the show that were absent from the book.

Episode Three’s Cold Open:

The entire backstory of Aziraphale and Crowley is only vaguely mentioned in the book. However, my favorite part of the entire series is the detailed history of how Aziraphale and Crowley became friends shown at the beginning of episode three. In the episode we see them meet in the Garden of Eden, where Aziraphale gives Adam and Eve a flaming sword and worries he might have done the wrong thing. We see them meet again to watch Noah enter the arc and Jesus being crucified. After they become better acquainted with each other we see them starting to invite each other out for food and saving each other from some potentially dangerous situations. We also get to see their arrangement, which is an important part of their relationship. Aziraphale and Crowley agree to do each others work in every area they’re sent, preventing them both from unnecessarily having to go to the same place at the same time to negate each other’s work. Even better, they make the arrangement while watching Shakespeare direct a rehearsal at the Globe Theatre. After this we get to see them fall out over a misunderstanding involving holy water, resulting in some of their uncertainty regarding their relationship that we see throughout the series. It explains a lot about the characters, and it’s fun to see them throughout history. It’s strange to picture this story without this wonderful cold open, which is remarkable for a sequence that wasn’t in the original book.

Gabriel and Heaven:

Jon Hamm is absolutely brilliant in the role of the angel Gabriel. He balances obliviousness with self-righteousness in a way that makes you love and hate this character at the same time. He’s a douchebag, but you can’t help but enjoy watching him when he’s onscreen. Gabriel was mentioned in the book, but was never actually present. This is especially odd because all of the demons we see in the series were in the books. We received much more of Crowley’s relationship with his co-workers than we did of Aziraphale and his co-workers in the original book. The series made up for that. We get to see what Heaven looks like and the way the angels treat Aziraphale. We get a glimpse into how corrupt some of the angels in Heaven are. We also get to see what they’re capable of. But I’ll get to that in a little bit. Plus, the scene where Gabriel visits Aziraphale in his bookshop is one of the highlights of the entire series.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

There’s a few changes with these characters. One major change that most noticed immediately is that Pollution is a woman in this series. It doesn’t change much about the character, but I do appreciate that the actress they picked for the role provided more female representation, as well as Asian representation within the cast. Another major change is the absence of the motorcyclists who followed the Four Horsemen in the books. These characters attempted to take on names of evil things to mimic the names of the Four Horsemen, which mostly ended in them picking convoluted names that described minor inconveniences. They all end up dying horrific deaths before the final battle at the end of the book. While parts of these characters were hilarious, the joke sometimes felt like it ran on too long in the book. This was especially true because, like the show, the book cuts from storyline to storyline. Sometimes it felt you were right in the middle of the action with Adam and his friends or Aziraphale and Crowley, only to be thrown back into a storyline that was comical, but not nearly as interesting. Their absence left the show’s moments leading up to the final battle feeling more concise and tense. And the deaths of the Four Horsemen in the show are a bit more powerful. Each one of The Them that takes on each of the Horsemen gets their turn to take up the Flaming Sword and deal a final blow. Pepper standing against War is an especially powerful scene that doesn’t seem as powerful in the book.

Aziraphale and Crowley Escaping Death:

The entire last part of the series doesn’t happen in the book. Once Adam defeats the Devil, it’s over for the characters. They get to go on living their lives. But why wouldn’t Heaven and Hell try to get back at Crowley and Aziraphale for ruining their plans? Neil Gaiman put this ending in the show to surprise fans, and he didn’t disappoint. Aziraphale is warned through a prophecy in Agnes Nutter’s book that his extended life might come to a horrible end if he and Crowley don’t act quickly. In the next scene we see Aziraphale and Crowley meeting up in the park, only to be kidnapped by their respective co-workers and sentenced to death. This entire scene makes the angels in particular seem terrifying. They sentence Aziraphale to stand in a tornado of hellfire, which Gabriel gets shockingly aggressive at attempting to force Aziraphale into. Meanwhile the Demons are more nonchalant about sentencing Crowley to bathe in holy water. But Crowley ends up enjoying a nice bath in his holy water and Aziraphale is not only unharmed by the hellfire, but he spits some at Gabriel just for fun. Of course, it’s revealed that Aziraphale and Crowley switched places, explaining why neither was hurt from their supernatural death sentences. The trick works, though, and Aziraphale and Crowley get an extra happy ending with the confirmation that they don’t have to worry about Heaven or Hell anymore. It’s another one of my favorite storylines in the series that feels like it belonged there in the first place.

That’s my list! ‘Good Omens’ has been out for a while, but if you haven’t watched it, you should really go do that now. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime and it deserves all the hype it gets. If you also haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. I’ve heard some book readers refer to it as a difficult book to get through, but I don’t find that true. If you like the series, you’ll get a lot of the story you know and love. You just have to be ready for a lot of side notes, which is a trademark of Terry Pratchett’s writing. In any case, I’m glad this series is finally getting recognition from some of the bigger merchandise companies. I hope that we see more as time goes on. And who knows, maybe Neil Gaiman will give us a season two eventually.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

2 thoughts on “Book Adaptations: Best Additions to ‘Good Omens’

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