The television industry in streaming technology is a beast with a foreboding appetite. It must be fed whole series, seasons, and cinematic universes at the same time, for the purpose of being satisfied for a weekend. Reimagined works from other media that previously sat in development hell have suddenly found all obstacles removed from their path.
The Sandman, a 1989-1996 comic book series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg, was widely considered unfilmable due to its serial nature and surreal visuals as lovingly depicted by a number of artists who would follow the Dream story forward into the future. Decades later, the Sandman has finally been translated to flesh and blood as a Netflix series by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins), and Allan Heinberg (The O.
The Sandman is by far the best TV adaptation of the comic book ever. Its a strange and listless series that takes time to establish itself. If you stay awhile, you'll be enthralled.
The Sandman's plan is only described in passing because of its shocking brevity. Instead, he captures Death's brother, Dream (Tom Sturridge), the king of dreams known by many names including the Sandman.
Dream emerges during a time of neglect, and The Sandman takes its toll on viewers. There's London past and present, the world of the Dreaming, and even a trip to Hell itself to meet Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie), a young lady who may inadvertently destroy everything Dream is trying to rebuild.
The Sandman is a remarkably faithful adaptation, which means the show has several shortcomings as a result of it. For example, when The Sandman discusses itself, it becomes more dissonant, putting you in conflict with the contemplative nature of the story. It may surprise you to learn there is a vast scheme at play here, although it is entirely dependent on inconsistent Netflix approval.
The reverence of the comic might make many of the series' adaptations unintentionally funny. Dream, for example, is depicted as a ghostly figure with stars for eyes that cant really be portrayed on screen without extensive makeup and some computer animation. In reality, he is just a brooding, pouty Englishman who isnt necessarily a bad thing when you learn (not a spoiler) that he is but one of the Endless, with older and younger siblings that also
Patton Oswalts' performance as Matthew, an escaped nightmare who is eluding and working against Dream, is similarly pitched, wacky, and somewhat agnostic on screen.
The Sandman is a compelling and sometimes odd comic book advertisement, which sounds like a slapstick praise, but may actually produce the desired result. Part of what made the Sandman comics so popular is their ability to be a refuge for queer people at a time when that was a rarity. Sandman would develop into a story about all stories, from Shakespeare to ancient Greece to superhero comics.
The Sandman isn't a Netflix adaptation. A Netflix adaptation that has to keep its ground rules and aspirations, to create a bingeable experience that could be a monster hit. All of the ways this might tarnish the original work are already present in this series, both visually and structurally.
Thats the difficulty in bringing dreams to life. The reason they stay with you isnt the parts you see clearly, but the images that remain hidden, so real yet impossible to describe, a vapor no one but you knew was there.
The first season of The Sandmans is now available on Netflix.