To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.
‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.
After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.
The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.
I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.
There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.
Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.
The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.
This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.
Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.
A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.
Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.
This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.
Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.
I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.
Or when John Dee was thanked.
In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.
The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.
Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.
Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.
The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.
The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.
Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.
Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.
Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.
Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.
There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.
I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.
The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.
To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.