SPOILERS Discussion of Good Omens, the series

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=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#41
Sister Jennifer asked: What was the thinking behind Death's face I wonder?

It isn't the Discworld Death, although it's similar. It's an Earthly Death, the same as War is an Earthly War, unlike the Discworld War. The Good Omens Death is more of a Neil Gaiman concept. In the Good Omens book, Death does speak in all-caps, but that was changed for the subtitles because all-caps is inaccessible for some people.
 

Dotsie

Sergeant-at-Arms
Jul 28, 2008
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#42
Here's probably the one thing I really didn't like and don't know why they did this; Aziraphale and Crowley as the nanny and the gardener, Crowley looked ridiculous. That was a really important part of the story that I think could have been more subtle.
Often in the dramatization of a novel, it is decided that there are too many characters and they are trimmed giving the main players have more involvement. It's been a while since I read the book and I'm starting to doubt myself, but in the original version Aziraphale must have involved heaven, to get St Francis to join in the attempted conversion of the antichrist to good, and this was the implication - right? And the nanny was sent by hell to make sure the antichrist followed his true destiny - yes? But then at the end the Metatron was quite clear that armageddon was going ahead no matter what (same as in the TV version), so why bother trying to convert the antichrist?

It made me wonder if I'd always interpreted the book incorrectly, and A&C were always the gardener and the nanny. But I think not.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#43
in the original version Aziraphale must have involved heaven, to get St Francis to join in the attempted conversion of the antichrist to good, and this was the implication - right? And the nanny was sent by hell to make sure the antichrist followed his true destiny - yes? But then at the end the Metatron was quite clear that armageddon was going ahead no matter what (same as in the TV version), so why bother trying to convert the antichrist?
Gaiman has said that interpretations are head-canon, and he's all for it.

As I vaguely understand it, saints were human beings, unlike angels. They may appear at times, both to groups and to individuals, to inspire. I don't recall ever hearing that they had to get permission, so heaven doesn't necessarily pay close attention. Aziraphale was still an angel, so maybe (in the book) he went directly to St Francis and asked him to intercede for the sake of this one boy who was at risk. Heaven seems like a pretty boring place, so maybe St Francis was eager to help out. What's eleven years out of eternity, anyway?

I don't have a clue about any details of hellish bureaucracy beyond Dante and a few Chinese fairy tales, but presumably something similar goes on. Nobody checks up on the accuracy of Crowley's reports, they just take his word for it. So maybe he hinted to Ashtoreth that she could get a few points with the boss by advising the offspring. Or maybe she was always going to be sent, once Crowley had made the delivery.
Still, I prefer the version in the TV series.
 

Molokov

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Sep 29, 2011
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#44
It made me wonder if I'd always interpreted the book incorrectly, and A&C were always the gardener and the nanny. But I think not.
You're correct, Dotsie. In the book, the nanny and the gardener are definitely referred to as 'agents' of Crowley and Aziraphale, rather than being the demon and angel themselves (We re-read it after watching the show).

In the BBC radio series from 2014, the nanny and gardener are played by the same actors as Crowley (Peter Serafinowicz) and Aziraphale (Mark Heap), intimating that it's them wearing disguises. This was introduced presumably by Dirk Maggs, the writer/producer of the radio series. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Neil Gaiman liked that idea so much that he put it into the TV show script. As you can tell, it involves fewer actors (i.e. cheaper), gives some good visual gags, shows off the acting prowess of our two leads, etc, etc. I actually prefer it this way - it means rather than using 'agents', C&A get directly involved in Warlock's upbringing.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#45
Yes, it seems likely to me too, that they would have been more directly involved rather than just showing up for the 11th birthday party. There's even reasonable motivation other than their own. Heaven, if they ever checked (and those photographs indicate that someone was watching even if nobody followed up the information), might have wondered why the antichrist was being left entirely alone if Aziraphale was supposed to be thwarting wiles. If Hell had checked, they might have wanted more evidence that the antichrist was being trained to be ready for when his powers developed. Fortunately, the other angels never bothered to check their work, preferring to do personal surveillance to try to get something to use against Aziraphale.
 
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=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#46
Meanwhile, Aziraphale was using bibliomancy.

Bibliomancy is the practice of opening a book (traditionally a Bible) at random and poking a finger blindly at a paragraph or sentence, for the purpose of fortunetelling.

That is what Aziraphale is doing when he first opens The Book halfway through. It works for him, showing the prophecy specifically written for him to read.

The whole story involves bibliomancy using Agnes's book. Anathema''s family fortune came from correctly interpreting paragraphs (book-canon). When the card-file is scattered, Newton points out that any card Anathema picks will have to be the right one - bibliomancy again.
 

=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#47
This whole thread is all spoilers, right?

Demonic fashion statements.
Supposedly the demons look like that because of the old canard about evil being ugly by nature. But in Good Omens, it varies. Beelzebub's facial goop isn't the same at all times. There's more of it in, I think, the trial scene when they're being official, and there' s none at all visible when they rise to confront Crowley at the airfield and deal with Gabriel. So it's controllable, and that makes it a fashion statement among demons.
Demons seem to want to have something that marks them as non-ordinary even when taking humanoid form. (It may even be a privilege.) Crowley has a snake tattoo, and snake eyes which he covers with sunglasses.

Once they are invented, Crowley wears sunglasses supposedly to help disguise himself as human, but he doesn't need to. He was able to make people just not notice his eyes during the previous millennia. Both Aziraphale and Crowley do the "Don't Notice Me" thing while walking through the wreckage at the paintball riot. (That's also the trope of walking through a mess and not getting dirty.) It's just easier to wear the sunglasses, but that's not the real reason. For the first few hundred years sunglasses were a sign of wealth and privilege (I think Nero's were made of emeralds), and a thousand years later they still indicated coolness.

Crowley doesn't have to have snake eyes, either. If he did, he could never have passed for Aziraphale in Heaven. Similarly, Aziraphale had to manifest snake eyes in his visit to Hell.
That means that the snake eyes, as well as the sunglasses, are like the fake bullet-hole decals on the Bentley windows. Crowley wears them because he thinks they're cool.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#48
I have another idea about the difficulty Crowley had walking into that church in 1941 because of the consecrated ground (Episode 3).
Online, I read a statement by someone who had discussed it with a priest, who is reported to have said that simply wearing shoes would have been sufficient to protect Crowley.
In the series we see that he could lean on a pew with no trouble, so furniture wasn't too holy to be touched.
We do have book-canon to support a solution.
In his first description in the novel, Crowley is said to be wearing snakeskin shoes - "at least we assume he's wearing shoes". Perhaps he really isn't wearing shoes, so when he says it's like going barefoot at the beach on hot sand, it's because he is going barefoot in a church.
 

MrsWizzard

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Aug 30, 2009
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#49
After a quick scan I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet, but there are SO many PTerry books hidden around Aziraphale's shop.



I found this, funnily enough, because I thought it looked similar to my copy of The Hobbit and my first thought was, "Oh, that's funny because Terry was inspired by Tolkien!" Turns out it was Feet of Clay!

I found a video elsewhere of a camera panning down from the top book and it turns out the whole stack was Discworld books! You can also see PTerry's hat in the background just above it.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#50
Angelic fashion statements? Or marks of corruption?

We saw three angels bully Aziraphale, beating him on a street corner. They were Michael, Uriel, and Sandalphon.

I believe it was after we saw the darker side of the angelic bullies that I noticed that Uriel was wearing what apparently is an odd bit of makeup in Heaven, that didn't show on Earth. There are spots of lighter color slightly diagonally across Uriel's face, and other patches on the cheekbones, etc. They look almost pink. Since they don't show all the time, but they are definitely not a reflection or other trick of the light, they may be some kind of deliberate facial decoration.
I feel that this is precisely parallel to the demonic sores and other goopy-looking stuff on demons' faces, especially Beelzebub's, which vary according to the audience. (Beelzebub's didn't show at all in the scene at the airfield.)

When Michael is making that private telephone call to someone Below, there is a peculiar smudge on their right cheekbone. In one view it's just a small smudge, in another it seemed larger. Since I doubt that the makeup crew of the production company would have allowed an accidental smudge to get past them, it must be meaningful. But it doesn't look pretty, like Uriel's decoration. It looks like the beginnings of something that might become rather unfortunate looking. With that in mind, even Uriel's seems a bit off.

I begin to wonder whether both Uriel and Michael are beginning to show their own corruption.
When Michael finked on Aziraphale and showed Gabriel the photos of Aziraphale with Crowley, Gabriel did allow for the possibility that there was a reasonable explanation. Gabriel doesn't show any blemishes, but it was in that scene that I first noticed Michael's. Gabriel wasn't in on the bullying session on that street corner, but both Michael and Uriel were. I haven't noticed a major blemish on the third bully, Sandalphon, yet, but I'll have to try to look at that scene again. I think it's possible that Sandalphon didn't actually hit Aziraphale. If so, then he may not be actually corrupt, just misguided.
ETA: I found a clip of it on a music video. it looks like it's Sandalphon and Uriel who hit Aziraphale, then Uriel shoves him against the wall. I'm not sure if Michael just stands there smirking or joins in.
 
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Oct 1, 2009
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#51
It's been many years since I read the book, and I remember very little about the plot, so my reactions are solely about the TV series itself. And since Gaiman himself wrote all the episodes, I'm looking at this from more of a writer's view and an overall series impression.

The best parts were the scenes between Tennant and Sheen, and to me they seem like the scenes where Gaiman spent most of this energy (and had most of his fun). Now, how much of the dialogue comes from the books (and therefore how much of it might have been Pterry's original lines) I don't know. But these scenes work wonderfully. I find that the series often drags when neither A or C is in a scene.

My only complaint about Sheen is that at times he seems to be imitating Anthony Daniels voicing of C3PO in the Star Wars movies, especially when he takes over the body of Madame Tracey.

And while I always enjoy seeing Michael McKean in a series, I think his portrayal of Shadwell was a bit over the top--too much of the deer in headlights at times.

I also thought that John Hamm was perfectly cast as Gabriel, the epitome of a soulless bureaucrat. And it's always nice to see Bill Paterson doing his cranky old man thing.

But I found the rest of the actors to be not so engaging. The actors playing Anathema and Pulsifer were just dull and their storyline was dull. I do kind of wonder why they were in the book in the first place other than to add youthful love story appeal for those not interested in the ageless, loveless mythical characters. Gaiman's lines for them are not particularly witty, and their role seems to mainly expositional, i.e., "Agnes predicted all this, and our role is to do something important." And, really, in the end, all they do is stop the missiles from launching (well, Pulsifer, actually). Theoretically, Adam could have done this as well.

I also found all of the kid actors, particularly the one playing Adam, to be rather dull. The fact that Adam needed to have colorized red eyes to "be evil" points out that he wasn't able to carry off the "lapse into evil" thing through acting alone. The other kid actors didn't venture far beyond stereotype.

And the the four bikers were just so disappointing. Maybe because Pterry did so much of a better job bringing them to, er, life in Thief of Time that their portrayal in the show seems so uncompelling. Death in particular looked like a bad Halloween costume and David Cox's voicing was horrible--couldn't Stephen Briggs or Nigel Planer have done the voiceovers?

Overall, I thought the series was pretty good and very entertaining at its best parts, but I think Gaiman would have benefited by having a more seasoned TV writer co-writing the scripts with him to sharpen up some of the duller areas. At least the show is a much better adaptation of a Gaiman novel than the harrowing, nearly unwatchable mess American Gods turned into in its second season.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#52
Almost all the dialogue comes directly from the book, except for the beginning of Episode 3, where their relationship develops through the centuries. However, we don't know just what was talked about when Sir Terry and Neil were considering what they would put in a sequel if they wrote one. Some of that may have been involved.

I liked when Sheen got to use his natural deep-note voice during the drunk scene.

I thought that was the actress doing the voices in the Madame Tracy/Aziraphale scenes, with the possible exception of "Ron".

In the novel, Adam doesn't have red eyes, but he does have a change in his eyes: "not devilment, because that was more or less there all the time, but a sort of blank greyness". Dog, however, does have glowing red eyes at times: "the usual glowing stare" at the cat, and not wanting to be "back with the ole glowin' eyes". As for the other kids, I think that was the director's choice. I thought they did rather well in the "sealed mouths" scene.

As for the existence of Pulsifer and Anathema in the novel, consider: the basic idea was William the Antichrist. The Antichrist was predicted in Revelation. Revelation was a book of prophecy, and since Terry apparently disliked the idea of prophecy, he made Agnes Nutter the only accurate prophet. To connect that directly to the angel plot, Aziraphale was made a collector of books of prophecy.
The prophecies have to be brought into the story somehow, so they come to a descendant. Instead of having them as clunky chapter headings for the chapters in which they happen (which I recall was done in some novels), they are written in disorder and obfuscation, like those attributed to Nostradamus. So we have Anathema who has memorized and studied them all her life, and still gets some of them wrong. Her being rich is implied in the book by the prophecy about the Apple no one can eat, that someone in the family interpreted correctly. (That also implies that someone was in America at the time because Jobs had real trouble finding investors at first. It would have been very tricky for an English family to have invested back then.)

Pulsifer is a kind of Rincewind clone - he wants desperately to be a computer wizard, but has negative talent for it. It's his superpower to break computers, and he's aware of it* - he asks whether he can be allowed to do the numbers on paper (so someone else can enter them into the computer). He can do all the number-crunching on paper, which I think must be harder without the programs that do half the work for you. He's also alert to patterns - he noticed the anomalous weather around Tadfield. He's also the voice of freedom, asking Anathema if she wants to be a Descendant all her life.

Actually, Anathema isn't controlled by the prophecies as much as some people on other sites seem to think. She is free to misinterpret them, to fail to act on them, to reject them. It's just that she has studied them and seems to be the one who is likely to do something important, since Agnes said she would be present at the time and place - not necessarily to save the world, but she would be there. (Though it seems that Agnes did know, we aren't told the prophecies nobody interpreted correctly that might have given Anathema some more precise help. "He is not what he says he is" could apply to most of the characters in the book.)

*I identify a bit with Pulsifer, because I don't think like a computer programmer. I have broken computers by following the instructions _precisely_, to the point that I was given a new one because they couldn't figure out what I had done. Eventually I learned a deep distrust of programmers, which has saved me several times. I have twice identified deliberately bad instructions in a program, instructions that could only have been written to cause trouble with malice aforethought.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#53
Since, true to the book, they almost always meet in restaurants, it makes sense that Aziraphale was almost always shown at the end of the meal, with the last tiny bite. Otherwise Michael Sheen would have really packed on the pounds, given that most scenes have to be shot repeatedly. (The kid playing Adam remembered getting brain freeze from having to eat "so much ice cream".)
Still, I wish they could have worked in the little joke at the end of Tuesday, where Aziraphale eats a deviled egg and then helps himself to Crowley's angel cake.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#54
I spent approximately eight hours yesterday just going through one tumblr website, and I only got to page 30. While a lot of it is NSFW, there are some magnificent deconstructions of Good Omens, mainly the series but a few of the book. I recommend it.
https://apple-duty.tumblr.com
 

Dotsie

Sergeant-at-Arms
Jul 28, 2008
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#55
Just a thought on the changing appearance of the demons and angels, I thought that they were supposed to have a true form in hell/heaven, and a more humanised appearance on earth, as referred to in the book with Crowley once. More extreme costume changes wouldn't have been appropriate, but sometimes the changes were a bit weird - the lord of the flies had a cloud of flies in hell, but a 'fly hat' on earth. I don't remember Michael's smudged cheek, but a mark of corruption sounds reasonable.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#56
That's what I read, too: a true or at least true-er form in hell/heaven, and a slightly more human appearance on earth.
Michael's splotch might just be shiny makeup that only shows from certain angles. When they smirk and turn around just after showing the pictures to Gabriel, another splotch briefly shows on the left cheek.
An interview/article somewhere quoted a statement that they were originally going to give Beelzebub fly-eyes (I guess with facet-look contacts), but the actress can't wear contacts and they couldn't glue big fake eyes to her face either (sensitivity issues, I think) so they compromised with the fly-hat and with the cloud of CGI flies in hell along with the rotting facial goop. I think it works well, especially with Hastur's frog (sometimes hidden by a fright wig) and Ligur's lizard.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#57
Someone* quoted on apple-duty.tumblr pointed out a detail I'd missed:
The entrance lobby for the heaven and hell office building isn't a solid floor - it's water.
(They posted gifs showing that the water ripples around Aziraphale's shoes.)
To get to heaven's escalator, Aziraphale has to walk on water.
To get to hell's, Crowley sinks down through the water before flipping upside down.

*@f*ckyeahgoodomens name *ed
 
May 20, 2012
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#58
A very British joke: the Archangel Michael pours the holy water into the tub.
From the tub, "Crowley" addresses Michael casually to make them miracle him
a towel.
That's funny enough as it is, but it also resonates with the whole butler- maid- gentleman's gentleman thing of drawing the master's bath and bringing him a towel. Michael has been made to act as Crowley/Aziraphale's servant, in front of a room full of demons. It is extremely demeaning, and they'll never live it down.
 
May 20, 2012
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#59
Among some of the online communities Hastur's toad/frog and Ligur's lizard have been named Lurky and Murky.
 

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