Good Omens is a novel written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a concentration of irony and catastrophism which, with a typically british and a burst of quotes, tells the story of two age-old friends, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, who decide to prevent Armageddon because they are too fond of the Earth and of human beings. An irreverent and passionate book that, after 29 years, inspired a Prime Video and BBC Two television series (written by Gaiman himself), which managed to perfectly capture the soul of the text. One show which among other things, driven by an irresistible duo formed by Michael Sheen (Aziraphale) and David Tennant (Crowley), has made a clear choice: to remain faithful to the book, but adapting to the times.
A rejuvenation that has led to the creation of one second season of Good Omens, despite the former having closed all links to the original source. While we await the arrival of the new episodes, scheduled for July 28, 2023, it is appropriate to reflect on the opportunity eh risks of this operation.
The miniseries turned series
Before going to see in detail, precisely, what could be the critical issues, but also the strengths of Good Omens 2, it is advisable to first reflect on the very nature of the product. The showin particular, before the actual release (May 31, 2019) and also for a couple of weeks after the launch, it had been advertised as a miniseries (in jargon, limited serie) or a title in itself that did not need seasons because it perfectly embodied the small book of origin. Subsequently, at the end of June 2021, the news of the second season arrived, and, from that moment on, Good Omens it has actually become a real series, with all the risks involved. A totally unexpected announcement that brought down many certainties and fueled many doubts about the return of the realization that had already said everything at least about the main source. There is only one truth: the public was easily “deceived” and, probably, much of the fear derives from the fact that the work turned out to be not a simple transposition, but an ambitious reinvention of the book.
Good Omens 2: the release date of the new episodes revealed with a funny parody video
The Experimentalism of Neil Gaiman
For those who know the mode of operation narrative of Neil Gaiman, this approach shouldn’t surprise too much: just think, for example, of that hidden gem of American Gods, a series inspired by the novel of the same name by Gaiman himself who, right on the small screen, from the second season onwards, decided to go beyond the pavement by exploiting the television medium to expand the story, enriching it with new artistic flashes. The difference between the two products, however, is that in the case of Good Omens the glue with the main source is already exhausted, while American Gods, while bringing many innovations, continued to deal with literary material in parallel. So it is therefore difficult for us, in reality, to also take The Sandman as an example because, although there are some intelligent and virtuous additions to the acclaimed comic, even on this occasion the show and the source still travel together. On balance, therefore, as far as we were accustomed to this revisionist artistic philosophy, it is the first time that the author has tackled an exploration that goes beyond adaptation.
Face to face with the language of television
The famous British screenwriter and writer, therefore, finds himself after years (precisely from 1996, the year of release of Neverwhere), having to deal directly, in no uncertain terms, with the language of television. A detail that, depending on how you look at it, can be good or bad. Sure to finally find something new and original is a very important achievement, especially in a television and film landscape full of reboots, sequels, remakes and spin-offs, but it is also true that Gaiman’s storytelling skills have not always adapted very well to the filmic and serial world. Going back to talking about American Gods, it must be said that the totally innovative moments (without any link with the novel) have often led to little organic digressions that have excessively weighed down the story and this derives from its eclectic and explosive writing style, which in some cases fits best on paper and poorly on screen. With an entire season unbridled or restrained, the artist must demonstrate that he has mastered the correct alphabet.
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A plot wrapped in a blanket of smoke
Another decidedly critical element is the total lack of information about it Good Omens 2. At the moment we are certain, only, of the involvement of Michael Sheen e David Tennantas well as a few words spent by Gaiman himself, who substantially anticipated that we will see new characters and new stories, but who revealed, at the same time, that some ideas about sequel in reality it had already been drawn down at the time with Pratchett, but which was not then realized. Therefore, if on the one hand the unknown, as often happens, terrifies us in the most absolute way, knowing that in any case we start again from some stable narrative point bodes well because at least it denotes continuous processing and reflection on the reference story. Furthermore, always from the author’s statements, we understand how another catastrophe is ready to mess up the plans of our favorite couple and we hope that, although there may be a similar incipit, the narrative development takes a different drift from what we have seen in the first season.
The right expectations
In conclusion, it is clear that Good Omens 2 it is a very delicate product that could give a lot of satisfaction or, on the contrary, turn out to be a bluff even in the light of the excellent reception (public and critics) reserved for the first season. Let us not forget, however, that, beyond the actual qualitative result, going beyond the limits that literary narration imposes also allows us to explore interesting aspects, without fearing any judgment or comparison. In other words, putting the technical and aesthetic opinion on the new episodes into a corner, one can also simply admire and praise, at the same time, Neil Gaiman’s attempt to expand his creature. What then the adventure of Crowley and Aziraphale will prove to be more subdued than usual is still a possibility to take into account, but with the right spirit, clearly irreverent and light-hearted, the show could amuse us without too much pressure, especially if we start with expectations consistent with the production and content difficulties of the project.