Emmy spotlight: ‘Good Omens’ is peak David Tennant, reflecting his greatest hits as an actor

Watching Amazon‘s “Good Omens,” I couldn’t help but think that Crowley was a role that only David Tennant could have played, if only because of how well it combines seemingly incongruous elements of his past performances: the whimsical heroism of “Doctor Who,” the cantankerousness of DI Alec Hardy in “Broadchurch,” and the malevolent charisma of Kilgrave in “Jessica Jones.” If “Good Omens” weren’t based on a novel from 1990, I’d swear it was Tennant fan fiction.

The actor stars in “Good Omens” as Crowley, a literal demon from hell who sets out to do evil across all of human history but develops an unlikely friendship with angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen). Armageddon is coming, and Crowley finds himself torn between his duty to wreak havoc on humanity and the fact that he has actually grown quite fond of the Earth over the millennia. Both he and Aziraphale wonder if the war to end all wars is really worth it at all.

Tennant was famous for his jollity on “Doctor Who,” but his centuries-old Time Lord, who like Crowley had seen humanity across the span of history, was also haunted by loss and guilt. Crowley doesn’t have that problem, and part of the pleasure of “Good Omens” is watching Tennant lean into the sinister side of his nature. If the Doctor was the angel on your shoulder, Crowley is literally the devil on the other, with a mischievous glint in his eye and a devious grin. He can be funny and scary at the same time, as evidenced in one scene in which he literally threatens his plants into growing; it’s an absurd moment, but Tennant commits to it so fully that it’s also genuinely unsettling.

Tom Goodman (Hollywood Reporter) wrote that Tennant and Sheen “are so emphatically into their roles that they make the hour-long episodes fly by.” Mike Hale (New York Times) added, “It’s hard to imagine better casting than Tennant as the cynical but softhearted Crowley, piloting his vintage Bentley at speed through central London.” And Lorraine Ali (Los Angeles Times) thinks Tennant and Sheen are “fabulous together. They embody the deep affection and irritation of a long-term marriage while dancing atop the thrill of a forbidden, clandestine love affair.”

Tennant won a Daytime Emmy in 2013 for his voice-acting in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but he has yet to be nominated in primetime. Will his fallen angel rise to the top of the Best Movie/Mini Actor race?

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