Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ Is Well Worth the Decades-Long Wait

Finally, The Sandman Arrives on Screen. Fans of Neil Gaiman’s classic fantasy-horror comic series—which ran from 1989 through 1996, cracked the New York Times best-seller list, and spawned a whole universe of spinoffs and sequels—have been waiting for this moment for something like three decades. The movie was first supposed to be it. After that, it was abandoned in Hollywood’s development hell as Hollywood continued to adapt other Gaiman works. Coraline. Stardust. What to say to girls at parties. The streaming age brought television series that were based on American Gods, Good OmensAnd even more LuciferThe character was first introduced as a part of the series called. It Sandman. But various adaptations of Gaiman’s masterpiece kept stalling out, plagued by bad scripts and creative differences.

It’s the 10th episode. Sandman After a 2018 deal, series has finally arrived on Netflix. It was managed by Gaiman and David S. Goyer as executive producers.Foundation), and showrunner Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman). The only problem is that it will not please some segments of an audience that has been waiting decades for this show. However, the wait was well-worth the reward. The show is a masterpiece of small-screen comic adaptation, with its strong cast and writing as well as a clever production design that uses digital effects to create an eerie noir-meets horror atmosphere.

Gwendoline Christine in “The Sandman”


The Sandman dates back to DC Comics’ 1930s Golden Age, but Gaiman’s version constituted a complete reinvention. Dream, Morpheus, or any other mythologically-derived name, the title character is part of the Endless family, an anthropomorphic representation of natural forces. Two of his siblings are Despair and Desire. “When the waking world leaves you wanting and weary,” Dream narrates, as the camera sweeps across a graveyard of nightmares and an enchanted palace of fantasies, in the show’s open sequence, “sleep brings you here to find freedom and adventure.”

In both the comics and the TV series, we meet Dream (a movingly vulnerable Tom Sturridge, recently seen in HBO’s Irma Vep() in what is surely the most terrible day of his immortal life. It’s 1916, and the members of an occult order have gathered on an English estate for a ritual that they hope will summon Death, so that they can entrap her in an orb and force her to do their bidding. Because he’s descended into the waking world in pursuit of a “rogue nightmare,” a.k.a. the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), who’s entertaining himself by causing havoc among humans, Dream is the Endless they capture instead. Too proud to give up his liberty to satisfy Charles Dance, his mortal captor, he spends an agonizing century locked in prison.

This is all essentially a prologue to Dream’s escape and return to his kingdom—now crumbling and all but abandoned. He must reclaim the three stolen objects which have the ability to rebuild with the assistance of Lucienne, his dream librarian (Vivienne Ampong). Matthew is Patton Oswalt’s voiceover. The first six episodes are very similar to those in the comics’ first volume. Preludes & NocturnesThe quest will lead him to Earth, and literally past the gates to hell. In the back section of Season 2, there is an abrupt shift, but not unavoidable to Parallel Volume 2. The Doll’s HouseThe story centers on Rose Walker, a Vanesu Samunyai who has taken control of her life and is looking for her lost child brother. She also discovers that she may have the potential to cause mass destruction.

Emma Duncan, ‘The Sandman.


More compelling than these serialized arcs and their protagonists—who exist largely as our guides through The Sandman’s uncanny realm—are the episodic stories, one-off set pieces, and oddball supporting characters. The most memorable episode in the series features David Thewlis playing the psychotic John Dee. DC’s Doctory Destiny), in a 24-hour diner, where he uses power purloined from Dream to make a handful of employees and customers interact honestly for once in their lives. A multi-part symphony of conflict, confession, and violence ensues; it’s actually an improvement upon Gaiman’s fan-favorite diner issue. There are great, warped concepts like this everywhere: a convention for serial killers, a Dream Realm Cain (Sanjeev Baskhar) who’s always murdering a self-resurrecting Abel (Asim Chaudhry), a man granted immortality in 1389 who meets up with Dream every hundred years for a beer and some reflections on why he still loves being alive.

Casting was always going to be crucial for this project, and Netflix’s The Sandman Absolutely nails it. That doesn’t necessarily mean finding the actors who look most like the comic characters. Lucifer Morningstar, the biblical fallen angel who rules over hell, was famously drawn to resemble David Bowie in his big-haired, late-’60s folk singer era. The character of Lucifer Morningstar is played here by Game of Thrones’ statuesque Gwendoline Christie, who embodies Lucifer’s winsome insouciance despite being, you know, a woman. Kirby Howell Baptiste is a brilliantly wise and serene take on Death. She comforts newly deceased people and guides them to their afterlife. Casting is a concept that has been around for ages. Hedwig the Angry Inch John Cameron Mitchell, mastermind of Florida’s boarding house owner and drag singer merits a bonus. Dream may be a strange man, but Sturridge has the perfect combination of baby-face and scowl. He beat 200 other actors for this role.

Vanesu Samunyai and Tom Sturridge in “The Sandman”

Liam Daniel–Netflix

It’s theoretically easier than ever to make a CGI-heavy genre show look good, but that hasn’t stopped studios as deep-pocketed as Marvel from repeatedly failing to do so. The Sandman Gary Steele, production designer (OutlanderVisual effects can be used so artistically by ). Many of the landscapes in Dream’s kingdom, hell, and other supernatural spaces are clearly computer generated—and for the most part these elements look purposely animated, like extremely detailed versions of the comic-book art. The waking world is almost identical to our Earth except for the presence of more bars and greasy foods, as well as dark alleys.

The imagery complements storytelling that stays true to Gaiman’s sensibility—a mix of fantasy tropes, literary and pop-cultural references, gothy aesthetics, and archetypes grounded in global mythology that is as thoughtful in its own way about how people use the omnipotent heroes and villains we invent through fiction as Watchmen. At times, the show does seem too eager to make characters explain aspects of Dream’s journey toward a greater understanding of the human experience that are already apparent from the narrative. For viewers who aren’t particular fans of the genre, some characters’ artificially grand fantasy-speak might elicit the occasional giggle. This doesn’t take away from the story. The Sandman’s clever story and gorgeous spectacle. A likely megahit at a time when Netflix could really use one, it rivals anything in Disney’s superhero arsenal but has enough personality to render the comparison pointless.

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