The Boys: Superheroes for the social media age
Armageddon is coming – well, not if an angel and a demon have anything to do about it. All they have to do is influence the Antichrist. Only problem is, they’ve misplaced him.
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s end-of-the-world classic has finally made it to our screens. After years of false starts and many, many stalls (with Pratchett famously saying that he wouldn’t believe that it was ever going to happen – even if he was at the premiere with a big bag of popcorn). But, Gaiman made good on his promise to his old friend. Not just on the big bag of popcorn at the premiere, but on seeing their words finally brought to life on the silver screen.
Tennant really is delightful as the demon Crowley – who didn’t as much as fall from heaven as saunter vaguely downwards.
And, what a fantastic adaption it is! Gaiman wrote each of the six episodes, as well as taking on the role of showrunner – ensuring that his and Pratchett’s vision was faithfully adapted. There are a few places where the show deviates from the book, but it works well. There’s more of a focus on the friendship between Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant) though, which is easily the best part of the show. Tennant really is delightful as the demon Crowley – who didn’t as much as fall from heaven as saunter vaguely downwards. He balances Sheen’s goody-two-shoes angel Aziraphale perfectly.
Episode 3’s montage of meetings, showing how this unlikely friendship develops, is a lot of fun to watch – some of which was shot right here, in South Africa.
This show not only embraces the end of all things but invites it in (along with four horsemen) for a few pints, and a laugh.
Some of the book’s minor characters are given more screen time and bulkier roles, like some of the demons and angels. We have a few brand-new characters added too, including Jon Hamm’s Gabriel. Hamm plays the overly zealous arch-angel perfectly.
“I am buying pornography” is one of his many amusing moments (in episode 2).
Ultimately, this is a show about the end of the world. But, where other stories are all about trying to overcome the inevitable Armageddon, this show not only embraces the end of all things but invites it in (along with four horsemen) for a few pints, and a laugh.
It manages to examine bigger themes in a way that is both classically Pratchett and Gaiman, without feeling too self-important.
In a world that seems to be slowly self-destructing, the social commentary is perhaps even more relevant today than when the book was published 30 years ago.
Clear out your weekend and watch the entire series on Prime Video now.