I rarely get a chance to spend a weekend mostly chilling and watching TV, but with the launch of two much-anticipated shows this week, I simply had to carve out time to stay in and watch them.Good Omens is one of my favourite books. I read it when it came out – nearly 30 years ago! – and have read it so many times since that my beloved old paperback eventually fell to bits, despite me buying one of those nerdy plastic covers for it, forcing me to replace it with one of the posh hardbacks they do for the Pratchett books now. (To put this in context: I usually don’t save books after I have read them, preferring to give them to charity or friends straight away. I have only a handful of books I keep for rereading – most of them are Pratchett’s). I was excited when Sheen and Tennant were cast – they seemed a perfect fit for the role – but nervous as to how the TV would be translated onto screen.Still, that didn’t stop me from inviting my friend M – who also loves the book, but doesn’t have Amazon Prime – over to mine for an all-day viewing party. Watching it in company (and with a steady stream of fizz to hand) made it an even better experience, and overall I was pleased with what they did with it.
It was inevitable it would be a bit more Americanised – gotta keep an eye on those international markets – and generally that worked (though Michael McKean was miscast, I thought – his accent was pretty painful). Diversifying the cast made sense – it’s 2019, after all – and the show skillfully excised some of the novel’s more dated conceits. It could have been more sharply edited: I felt like the voiceover was too exposition heavy and in places just there so we could keep in some jokes from the books, and some scenes were too long. (To be honest, I could have done with the actual plot being wrapped up in 5 eps and the 6th just being scenes from Crowley and Aziraphale meeting up through history).But ultimately, none of that mattered. The central pairing worked gloriously – both actors playing it romantic AF while staying within the boundaries of the source material. The show was cameo heavy (“I bet loads of actors begged to be in it, even for 5 minutes” M opined) but that generally worked – if you’re going to do a show about angels and demons, might as well get a stellar cast. Delightful small touches abounded, and my only sadness is I couldn’t get to London to check out the pop up bookshop.
Deadwood, of course, couldn’t be more different, though it inspires similar levels of passion in its fans. The series was cruelly cut short back in 2006, after 3 seasons that marked it as the precursor of today’s ‘premium TV’. An astonishing cast and great writing elevated the show from the norm – you will never see swearing used to such poetic affect – and it created a universe as detailed, colourful and starkly beautiful as The Wire (another show that used language exquisitely). So would the reunion film satisfy the fans?
Well, this fan, certainly.
While the story at times felt a little perfunctory, the film was packed with so many gorgeous touches it was impossible to resist, and seeing these characters together again was an aching, bittersweet pleasure – everyone a lot older, some wiser, some crumbled by age, some matured into something like contentment. Everyone got their moment, Ian McShane got to steal a whole lot of scenes, and Timothy Olyphant got to stride about town in a cowboy hat (“like Raylan Givens’ hot ancestor”, my friend T put it) and I got to swoon over him, so everyone went home happy.Now the only question is: when do I have time to watch them again?