The Sandman is an American fantasy drama superhero streaming television series based on the 1989–1996 comic book written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. A Sandman adaptation has long been in the works but considered by many to be ‘unfilmable’ – so does this first adaptation succeed? Is The Sandman worth binge-watching?
The premise of The Sandman is an intriguing one –
In 1916, Morpheus, the king of dreams and one of the seven Endless, is captured in an occult ritual. After being held captive for 106 years, Morpheus escapes and sets out to restore order to his kingdom of the Dreaming.
In truth, this premise only holds up for half of the series – presumably the first season – as the second half basically adapts The Doll’s House segment of the comic book series. The premise of The Doll’s House revolves around Rose Walker – a dream vortex that has the ability to make or break the universe. In this context, episodes 6 – 10 find a more cohesive through line for character motivation than the source material.
Ah yes, the source material. The main question that crops up when watching this as someone who has read the source material – would a person coming in fresh to these ideas, concepts, narratives and characters be able to appreciate the story on its own without the background of the source material? Probably. In fact, maybe more so. Let us explain…
The main complaints we have about The Sandman involve the changes made from the source material and not in a positive way like say, The Boys did. Take the representation of The Endless, including Dream and Death et al. In the comics, the Endless are visualised as inhuman, other-worldly creatures but in the series, they seem too ordinary for our liking. Even Morpheus needed to look more ‘alien’ than he does here. That took us out of the series at times. Also did John Constantine need to be gender-swapped? Perhaps this was done to distinguish this version of Constantine from the other versions depicted so far in film and TV. It seems like there was a concerted effort to dis-associate the series from the DC universe, something only geeks like us would frown on, we suppose.
Still, the creative writing of Neil Gaiman still shines through in The Sandman, and for that alone makes this Netflix series worth binge-watching.
… still there’s more …