In the UK: Available on Amazon
Globalisation throws up a lot of paradoxes, some of which I’ve remarked on before. On the one hand, globalisation can be a good thing. It can introduce us to different cultures, encourage investment, give us variety and new ideas, and generally enrich our lives. But it can also be a bad thing, leading to homogenisation, cultural appropriation and the imperial imposition of one set of values on another.
I know that’s a bit heavy for both a comparison of Netflix and Amazon and a review of the new adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. But I feel it’s important as an explanation for why despite fine source material, scripts written by one of the authors and a stellar cast, Amazon’s Good Omens is far more annoying than it is funny.
Note for Americans and other aliens
Just in case you’ve never read Good Omens, I’ll point out that as the name suggests, it’s a spoof of classic 70s horror film The Omen. In that movie, the Bible’s Book of Revelations starts to come true and the Anti-Christ comes to Earth, where he is raised by the American ambassador to the UK.
In Good Omens, however, the Anti-Christ gets given to the wrong parents by some Satanic nuns and ends up being raised in a small country village by a nice little middle-class English couple of no note.
Meanwhile, an angel and a demon who have been living on Earth since its very creation decide that actually, the Apocalypse will really ruin everything they’ve come to enjoy about humanity and existence, so do what they can to prevent its advent.
The book is a combination of Pratchett’s humour and satire and Gaiman’s whimsy and horror. While it touches on many topics, its central theme was that maybe if we all tried being nice to another – or at least if everything was nice and middle class and English and everyone just bumbled along – maybe the world would be a better place.
With a timeline stretching back thousands of years and frequent inclusions of parts of medieval/early modern English history, particularly witch trials, it also exhibits a love of history and language.
That love of words – as well as the frequent “notes for Americans and other aliens” to explain quirks of English culture – make it a hard book to adapt. Yet Amazon have had a go, joining forces with the BBC to throw a metric fucktonne of cash at the project, which seems to feature every single famous British actor in the world, as well as more than a few Americans for good luck.
The trouble is that the echo chamber of Amazon-style globalisation has resulted in something that self-consciously presents an international idea of Englishness, rather than the authentic English humour of the book. And by international idea of Englishness, I mean Harry Potter.Continue reading “Boxset Monday: Good Omens (Amazon)”