Culture

Audiobook Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

A BBC Radio 4 Full Cast Dramatisation – The Complete Review

audiobookNow then…before I attempt to review this once again allow me to check some things. First no Inquisition – check. No Black Templars – check. Doors locked – check. No one nearby with surprisingly nice hats – check! I think that means the coast is clear. Now to begin the review anew.

In 2014 BBC Radio 4 – with the aid of Neil Gaiman one of the original authors – released an adaptation of Good Omens which is very highly regarded and was relatively recently rebroadcast. So although I do love the original book, my attention will be focused on the Radio 4 version adapted by Dirk Maggs famous for his work on the original radio versions of The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy among several others.

Good Omens audiobookThe plot begins thusly: According to the Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world is going to end very soon. Next Saturday to be exact. Events are now in progress to bring forth the End Of Days! The armies of Heaven and Hell are marching forward to the small, not at all important village of Lower Tadfield. Atlantis is arisen, fish are falling from the sky and numerous ‘miracles’ are occurring. The Divine Plan is coming along nicely. Except for Crowley – the demonic inventor of the M25 – and Aziraphale – angelic rare book dealer. They have become rather fond of humanity and their arrangement after all. To prevent Armageddon they have to stop the Antichrist. Only one problem: they have misplaced him.

This adaptation is utterly hilarious. The story is one that you can’t stop listening to. I practically listened to the whole thing in one sitting. Even the side characters are brilliantly performed and written. Crowley is the perfectly sarcastic kind of demon that I could imagine as a surprisingly fun bureaucrat. His voice is utterly perfect as performed by Peter Serafinowicz. (Now that I’ve heard his Crowley voice I’m going to hear it in my head whenever I imagine anything involving a demon aren’t I?) Mark Heap as Aziraphale is also brilliant as the school know it all who somehow has angelic powers. And that’s not even getting into the Witchfinder General Shadwell – Clive Russell – who I can only describe as a completely mental witch finding relative of Groundskeeper Willie and his much more reasonable – although somewhat of a wet blanket – assistant Newton Pulsifer as played by Colin Morgan. Both are utterly bizarre in their performance but it fits them both perfectly. Without giving anything away to first time listeners the Antichrist – played by Adam Thomas Wright – suits the piece wonderfully. I quite literally couldn’t stop laughing all the way through.

I could not possibly recommend this adaptation any higher! Even if you usually stick to reading or listening to the original books in most cases, I can promise you that this is an adaptation where Radio 4, Dirk Maggs et al worked at the top of their game. There’s also a rather entertaining cameo appearance by both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in the first episode! Even if you aren’t exactly sure, give the adaptation a chance. No matter what the original novel is still the classic it always was and in my humble opinion this adaptation does it justice.

Comedy is always completely subjective (as always) so I can’t promise it’s perfect – as can be a problem when reviewing comedy works be they Pratchett, Gaiman, Finnemore or Wehn among others – but I can assure you that this is true to the spirit of the original. I won’t be comparing this to the also recent Amazon Prime live action adaptation – requested personally by Pratchett – partially because I haven’t seen it and partially because I don’t want to lose my thread to ‘adaptation loyalty’ to the original book. The important thing is this version feels very much like it was in the spirit of both the original authors. I had to resist the urge to laugh long enough to write this!

NephriteBut as for next time? It’s time for my first review by reader request. Another Terry Pratchett. Namely the story of The Wee Free Men. I’m curious myself about this one so I hope to return soon!

Sayonara!

Nephrite

 

1 reply »

  1. Well, it wouldn’t do we were all the same, or liked the same things – here goes – just my opinion – a bit of healthy …disagreement/discussion?

    I recorded ‘Good Omens’, from the telly, started to watch the first episode, and lost my temper and patience with it.

    Try reading….. C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Screwtape Letters’, then, moving on a bit in time, Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Sirens of Titan’ – forward a bit more – Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ ( tho’ I do think he ‘borrowed’ a bit heavily from Kurt Vonnegut). Philip Pullman did something similar in his ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy – but he does have a tendency to ‘borrow’ from C. S Lewis.

    I don’t want to knock Terry Pratchett, as, whenever I saw him interviewed on the television, he came across as a thinking, amiable man, with a wry, sideways view of the world – often the only way to deal with viewing it.
    But…….what I saw of ‘Good Omens’, gave me the impression that Terry Pratchett had ‘cherry picked’ ideas, and thrown them together, then, the telly people made an annoying interpretation of what he had written.
    I deleted the remaining episodes which we’d recorded.
    I do like David Tennant – but even his presence wasn’t enough to save it.

    I enjoyed reading the ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy – had a similar reaction to the television adaptation – in fact, worse – I was furious about the television adaptation as it messed about with two of my favourite characters in literature – The Hero of All Bears, Iorek Bernison, and, Lyra.

    Right, I’ve got that off my chest.

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