Good Omens: First trailer, release date, the Antichrist and more Queen

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s angels and demons end-of-the-world epic gets its first Queen-backed trailer.

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Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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We finally know when the end of the world is coming (and it's not quite next Saturday but it's awfully close) -- and we have a good idea about how it will go down, with the first trailer for Good Omens

Good Omens, a tale about the apocalypse and the angel and demon who want to stop it, came to us from the clever, broody minds of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, first published in 1990. Twenty-nine years later, Good Omens is getting a six-part TV miniseries, written by Gaiman and directed by Sherlock and Doctor Who marvel  Douglas Mackinnon.

The series will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on May 31.

Just let me see the trailer!!!!

OK, OK! Here it is.

There's plenty to unpack here for fans, including the first look at the Antichrist, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, aliens, the gang known as "Them" and a lot more Jon Hamm. It's also, thankfully, backed by the ba-da-ba-ba-da's of Freddie Mercury and the sweet sounds of David Bowie belting out "Under Pressure."

If you have no idea what you just watched then let's talk about everything there is to know about Good Omens, shall we?

Wait, Good Omens is actually getting made?

Yes! Long in discussion between Gaiman and Pratchett, an adaptation has been in (perhaps aptly) production purgatory for a long time. Since at least 2000, various names have been attached to it, including Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp and Robin Williams.

When Pratchett died from Alzheimer's disease in 2015, Gaiman said he wouldn't do an adaptation without his good friend. But he changed his mind after receiving a posthumous letter from Pratchett that asked Gaiman to get it done without him and, well, here we are.

That's great news, but... what is Good Omens?

Oh, of course. I forget not everybody has bought three editions of Good Omens in their lifetime.

Good Omens is about the coming apocalypse, written by fantasy visionaries and real-world friends Gaiman and Pratchett. It was first published in 1990. Gaiman conceived an idea about the Antichrist being accidentally swapped in a hospital at birth, wrote 5,000 words and then put it on the back burner as his Sandman graphic novel series kicked off.

He sent his Antichrist draft to Pratchett for feedback and a year later, Pratchett called him.

"That was the nearest I was ever going to get to Michelangelo phoning to ask if I wanted to paint a ceiling with him," Gaiman told the BBC in 2014

And so, two of Earth's most celebrated fantasy writers teamed to write a comedy about an unfortunate baby-swap and the coming apocalypse. It tells of an angel, Aziraphale, and a demon, Crowley, who have both found Earth a pretty suitable place to live. With the End Times drawing ever closer (the world is scheduled to end next Saturday, after dinner), Aziraphale and Crowley realise their pleasant Earthly lives are in danger. The Final Judgment is coming and Good or Evil is scheduled to prevail -- unless they can prevent it.

With the end of the world comes an outrageous cast of characters, including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Famine writes books about dieting); a witch who prophesied the end of the world back in the 17th century and her descendants; a convent of noisy nuns; the Antichrist and his group of childhood friends, and, of course, a soundtrack backed by the vocal stylings of Freddie and Queen.

It's quite the end-of-the-world party.

Release date and first look

Good Omens will premiere on May 31, 2019, with six hour-long episodes. It'll premiere on Amazon Prime Video and also be available on the BBC , if traditional broadcasting is more your thing. 

During the release date announcement on Feb. 13, Good Omens Twitter account also dropped the opening title sequence, a delightful cut-out animation of Crowley, Aziraphale and all the friends they make along the way.

We first glimpsed a peek of the series on July 20, when Amazon Prime Video gave us our first look at the world of Good Omens in a short featurette.

It gives us but a taste of what's to come, and what stands out is the cast's love for the novel. There's an obvious passion and excitement about bringing this world to life that can, we hope, only be a Good Omen of what's to come. We also got a supershort look at Comic-Con in 2018.

Back on Oct. 6, Amazon unveiled the official teaser trailer.

Meet the cast of angels and demons

David Tennant takes on the role of the demon Crowley, draped head to toe in black and always in a pair of sunglasses, no matter the weather. He'll team up with Sheen, who plays the angel Aziraphale, a picture of perfect laundering in his dashing lights. Fans of the book have heaped praise on that inspired casting, and director Douglas Mackinnon told EW at Comic-Con 2018 that the chemistry between the duo is "a mix you can't believe" likening them to "Butch and Sundance and Thelma and Louise all together."

Josie Lawrence plays Agnes Nutter, the witch who foretold the end of the world, and Adria Arjona will play Anathema Device, Nutter's last descendant. She'll have a big role to play, come the apocalypse.

The forces of Hell find their fearless leader in Beelzebub, played by Anna Maxwell Martin, while on the other side of the afterlife fence we have Jon Hamm taking his rightful place as a charismatic, handsome angel named Gabriel. Gaiman himself calls Hamm "a thing of beauty, and a joy forever" in an early still from set.

He's goddamn right.

We also know Frances McDormand will play God, proving Ariana Grande's theory correct, while Nick Offerman is the father of (not-)Antichrist Warlock Dowling. Standing opposite God is the malleable, inimitable Benedict Cumberbatch as Satan. The series will also feature Michael McKean and Miranda Richardson.

Production details

Gaiman's work has gotten the book-to-film treatment before, with Stardust and Coraline. He's also been responsible for writing the English translation of Studio Ghibli masterpiece Princess Mononoke and highly lauded episodes of Doctor Who. Last year, his treasured mythology-based US road trip novel American Gods got its own TV adaptation and he worked closely with the showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.

But Good Omens is different. Gaiman is serving as writer and, for the first time, as showrunner, and he's trying to create something  his dear friend Terry Pratchett would've enjoyed.

Scottish director Douglas Mackinnon, whose credits include Sherlock and Doctor Who, has directing duties on all six episodes and the show will be overseen by Narrativia, the production company headed by Pratchett's daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, and Gaiman's The Blank Corporation, working in conjunction with the BBC and Amazon .


Concept art from the Good Omens featurette. 

Prime Video

Plot details

Gaiman has been vocal about the fact that he and Pratchett had long discussed ways to expand on the original story, even way back in 1991. The two had often talked about a sequel and what they'd like in an adaptation -- and it seems there'll be plenty of additions for fans to enjoy. The content never made it into a sequel, but it's still been kicking about in Gaiman's head.

"One of the things [Terry and I] talked a lot about was the idea of our heaven, the idea of our hell, how they were set up -- all of that kind of stuff..." Gaiman told EW at Comic-Con 2018.

Some aspects of the novel will be left out, though we aren't sure what exactly that means yet. However, we already know some of the new content Gaiman is looking to deliver. For instance, the angel Gabriel, one of God's messengers, is only mentioned in passing in the novel but will play a larger role in the series.

The story itself works all the way back to creation itself (which is only 6,000 years ago, of course), but it's easy to forget the novel was written in the 1980s, a time where "present day" was all about putting cassettes in our cars and not spending every waking minute craning our necks toward our phones . Some cosmetic changes will no doubt be necessary.

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Editors' note: This article was first published on Aug. 3 and will be updated when new information rolls in.

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