Text: Dmitry Kurkin
Late May on Amazon Prime a mini-series "Good Omens" was released, based on the fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about how an angel and a demon join forces to prevent the apocalypse. The book took a long time towards adaptation (at some point Terry Gilliam showed interest in the project - it turned out what usually happens with Gilliam's projects, that is, nothing) and in the end was embodied in a six-part vaudeville. Pratchett did not live to see its premiere - the writer died in 2015 - but it can be assumed that the series, which carefully preserved elements of his caustic-ironic style, would have liked him.
The end of the world is nearing. The baby Antichrist should already appear in the world, who, having reached puberty, will acquire his true power and launch the scenario of the total destruction of the Earth. The teams of heaven and hell are eagerly anticipating the final battle of Scripture (both are confident they will win), but a couple of players do not share the same enthusiasm.
Demon Crowley (David Tennant), who was instructed by the authorities to plant the devil's offspring in the family of an American diplomat, and his old acquaintance, the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), are too keen on the joys of earthly life. Crowley, as befits a tempting serpent, incites the opponent to start his own game: they will both secretly educate the Antichrist, and he, under the equal influence of good and evil, will grow up as an ordinary person, and the world will live a little longer. Aziraphale is afraid to disobey God's will, and besides, he is constantly worried about by the top management in the person of the Archangel Gabriel (John Hamm as an exemplary incompetent boss who infuriates him with his complacency). But his love for French pancakes, sushi restaurants and a cozy second-hand bookstore, which he pretends to own for conspiracy, turns out to be stronger.
"Good Signs" can hardly be called the best work of one or the other author, but the book deserves its epaulettes of the classics of ironic fantasy by right. Both writers clearly treated her with great fondness, like a strange and wayward child: for Gaiman, she became the first bestseller in prose, for Pratchett, a rare foray beyond the territory of the Discworld he created. And when, in the 2000s, the sluggish prospect of a film adaptation of the novel finally came to life, Gaiman promised a colleague exhausted by Alzheimer's that he would bring the story to the screen in value and safety.
The writer kept his word. The series directly quotes most of the storylines, dialogues and direct speech from the book, without deviating from the original source even in the smallest details - the only thing that was lost on the road was the end-to-end joke that any cassette, lying in the glove compartment of Crowley's car for two weeks, turns into a collection of Queen hits … And even though some of the details in "Good Omens" were updated, they look like an artifact from the early nineties, the time of sophisticated English humor, the kings of which were then Fry and Laurie.
The same goes for the duo Tennant and Sheen, as if they escaped from a forgotten episode of "Doctor Who" - it's hard to believe they haven't worked together before. Their chemistry of acting saves "Good Omens" in those frequent moments when cheerful chaos reaches its peak, the plot wires are completely messed up, and the characters become so numerous that their arrangement on the stage is no longer understandable. The forbidden friendship of an angel and a demon, two allies who, it seems, cannot be allies, is really brilliantly played out in the series.
Behind this kind-hearted bromance, it's easy to overlook the central paradox that actually makes the Good Omens world go round and round.That in the book, that in the series, he is brought to the very beginning: “God is not playing with the Universe at dice; he plays an indescribably complex game that he himself invented. From the point of view of all other players (that is, simply - everyone), this is like playing an extremely confusing variety of poker at unlimited rates in a completely dark room with upside-down cards, and with a dealer who did not explain the rules to you and always smiles mysteriously. Meanwhile, people who remind with reverent trepidation that the ways of the Lord are inscrutable, for some reason, time after time, find themselves in the forefront of interpreters, confident that they already know exactly what the highest plan consists of.
This eternal inconsistency, which amuses Gaiman and Pratchett from the bottom of the heart, is, if spoken in the series, only in passing. But another, perhaps even more important, message has not disappeared: people are by nature not good and not evil - they are just people, and their actions are explained by this. A petition by an American Christian organization to Netflix demanding the removal of the blasphemous series - which was actually released not by Netflix, but by Amazon - clearly confirms the authors' correctness.
PHOTOS: Amazon Prime