ABC has got Agents of Shield, Netflix has Daredevil, The CW has The Messengers – basically, this is a superhero series under a slightly different guise. We’ve got a Professor X figure who has woken from a coma and is the conduit to God; then there’s someone who has prophetic visions, which, at the moment, are proving rather Cassandra-like; another character has super-strength; another has the gift of healing (think Lucy from the Narnia tales but not needing the cordial); and yet another who has convenient telepathy – convenient in story terms, that is, rather than for him. And of course there’s the final member of the group, the necessary unbeliever (in all senses), who’s told that she has a power that’s yet to be recognised… Stop me if a lot of this is sounding familiar.
Where it is different is the blatant use of Apocalyptic terminology – that’s Apocalyptic with a capital A, referring to the last book of the New Testament. Yes, this motley crew are destined to do battle to prevent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from bringing about the Rapture. Anyone who’s read or listened to the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman Good Omens may have a bit of a problem with taking this too seriously, and the oh-so-serious tone of the piece is a little off-putting.
There continues to be enough in the episode to keep the interest, but if it descends into a cycle of “he has the vision, they go to stop it, the Man (i.e. the Devil) does something to stop them, they all end up back in a place by coincidence, rinse and repeat”, then the series is going to stall incredibly quickly. It’s a brave idea to tackle Christian iconography so head on, even with the requisite cynic on board, and it’s interesting to see that its ratings in the all-important 18-49 demographic increased week on week…
Verdict: Good Omens done seriously – or The Avengers for the God Squad? 7/10