The Jelly List: Book adaptations to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Adapting books to the screen has always been very challenging. Video is a vastly different medium from books, wherein the directive is to “show, not tell.” Scenes and internal dialogues painstakingly detailed in novels will be hard to interpret on the screen. Also, some novels, even though widely successful, might not have enough of a following to justify the expense in producing and marketing a feature film or a series on network television.

Fortunately, the massive popularity of over-the-top (OTT) services gave rise to book adaptations specifically for online and on-demand video streaming. Freed from the constraints of content and length for film and scheduling constraints of network TV, and taking advantage of the data gained through subscriptions and online transactions, multi-episode series covering increasingly edgy and conplex topics are being produced. These result to more freedom in storytelling and to more expansive and lived-in worlds for book lovers to reaquaint themselves with and for non-readers of the books to discover and grow to love.

Amazon Prime Video, the video-on-demand service operated by online retailer Amazon.com, has joined the fray in producing book adaptations that are sure to capture new audiences as well as further endear the works to their existing fans. Novels being adapted into Amazon Original Series include:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet

Two of fantasy literature’s rock stars – Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett – collaborated on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The novel was a hilarious ride through the adventures of an angel and a demon who became friends and their efforts to stop Armageddon as heralded by the birth of an unwitting AntiChrist.

Its adaptation stars Michael Sheen as Aziraphale the Angel and David Tennant as Crowley the Demon. The miniseries premiered on May 31, 2019 and has received rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes owing to Sheen and Tennant’s “very nearly holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry.” Despite a petition – erroneously addressed to Netflix at that – to cancel the series, the production has received a slew of nominations in the Saturn Awards and the Primetime Emmys.

Jack Ryan based on the Jack Ryan Novels by Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character has had quite a good run in cinemas with winning portrayals from some of Hollywood’s top actors: from Alec Baldwin in Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears, and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

John Krasinski now portrays Jack Ryan in the Amazon series as a former Marine and financial analyst wrenched from the security of his desk job after discovering a string of dubious bank transfers and sets about matching his wits against rising a extremist named Suleiman. The series premiered on August 31, 2018 and has already been renewed for its second and third seasons.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle depicts an alternate reality wherein the Axis powers win World War II. Here, the United States was divided among Japan and Germany as the spoils of war: the Greater Nazi Reich in the East and the Japanese Pacific States to the West. Set in 1962, several years after the war, characters are tantalized by the writings of “the man in the high castle,” which hint at the truth that the Axis actually lost the war.

The series incorporates fantastical elements such as having “multiple Earths,” as can be seen in films collected by the titular “man in the high castle,” a mysterious leader of the resistance. The show’s pilot has been said to be “Amazon’s most watched” and has gained praise on Rotten Tomatoes as “unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by fully developed characters in a fully-realized post-WWII dystopia.” The series premiered on November 20, 2015 with three seasons already released. It has also already been renewed for its fourth and final season.

Really, it’s a great time to be alive for book lovers who want to see their favorite tomes come alive on-screen.

What book do you want to see adapted to a series? Let me know in the comments.

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TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens” to be released in 2019

The creatively twisted minds of two of Britain’s greatest modern fantasy writers produced Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (or more commonly known as just Good Omens). The fruit of a very successful collaboration between Neil Gaiman (“American Gods,” “The Graveyard Book,” and “Stardust“) and Sir Terry Prachett (“Discworld“) published in 1990, Good Omens is a quirky and entertaining novel that tells of the coming of the Apocalypse. The book is chock-full of humorous situations: from a witch’s super-accurate predictions of her execution, the birth and childhood of the AntiChrist in the English suburbs, the coming together of the Four Horsemen, and the mad antics of the legions of Heaven led by Aziraphale the Angel and Hell led by Crowley the Demon (both of whom happen to treat each other as friends) as they prepare for the endtimes.

I first read the book in the late 90’s and I did think the story would translate well onscreen.

A film adaptation was in fact planned in 2002 in which Robin Williams and Johnny Depp were set to star as Aziraphale and Crowley respectively but financing fell through.

A radio dramatization was aired in BBC Radio 4 in 2015, wherein Gaiman and Pratchett had cameo appearances.

Nearly two decades after first reading the book, I’m thrilled to find out that a TV adaptation is finally in the works, starring no less than Michael Sheen (“Underwold: Rise of the Lycans,” “Midnight in Paris“) as Aziraphale and David Tennant (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Broadchurch“) as Crowley.

This TV series couldn’t have come at a better time, being the new Golden Age of Television, and judging from the recent success of the TV series based on another Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods.

The 6-episode series will be released on Amazon Prime in 2019, followed by a conventional broadcast on BBC Two.

This post contains affiliate links.

Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and read from thousands of books available in the Kindle Unlimited catalog. Get your first month FREE.

No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime and anywhere.

No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

Not yet an Amazon Prime member?

Sign up for a 30-day free trial today and get access to all the perks for members such as:

  • Free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime
  • Unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows
  • On-demand, ad-free music listening
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Free same-day delivery in eligible areas