I’m just disappointed that Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic comic “The Sandman” is a subpar television program. “Sandman” has the potential to be very good, if not great. It has been painstakingly created over many years and features elaborate costuming and set design, as well as what appears to be very expensive computer imaging.
In a time when fantasy epics are the rage on prestige TV, it is a fantasy epic. Gaiman personally guided it toward the big screen. Its vast cast includes talented actors including Jenna Coleman, Stephen Fry, and Gwendoline Christie.
Nevertheless, “Sandman” is not a particularly good or great programme despite all of its positive attributes. The show (now available for streaming; half star out of four) is a mediocre series that has been made worse by unused potential and Netflix’s funding.
“Sandman” is a puzzling failure because it is painfully slow, drab, and monotonous, if not downright boring. The storylines that make up the comic book epic are haphazardly and perplexingly woven together, never developing into clear story arcs, and not even segmented into engaging stand-alone episodes.
The series is a collection of narratives and feelings thrown haphazardly on top of one another. It’s unclear if this is because the source content was poorly adapted or because it was simply too difficult to adapt.
What is evident is that both comic book fans and first-timers are likely to be confused and turned off. There are over 20 separate items and characters in “Sandman,” yet it all comes down to this:
The titular Sandman, played by Tom Sturridge, rules over peoples’ dreams. Like Desire (Mason Alexander Park) and Death, he belongs to a family of anthropomorphic notions (Kirby Howell-Baptiste, whose episode is the best thing about the series by far).
Dream (also known as Morpheus) is initially imprisoned and kept mute in the waking world for more than a century after being lucky enough to be abducted by a human sorcerer (Charles Dance). In the “Dreaming” universe, his absence brings about chaos, human deaths, and illnesses.
In an effort to rebuild his life after being set free, Dream travels to hell to see Lucifer (Christie) and look for a psychotic individual (David Thewlis). That is perplexing and a touch boring, if you ask me. The show fails to develop likeable characters or any sort of narrative stakes. Not being a smart, talky fantasy series like “Sandman” is the issue.
There are many excellent science fiction and fantasy books that place a greater emphasis on dialogue and character than on action sequences. The issue is that, in the absence of a compelling story and underlying concepts, all of that conversation is useless and empty.
As the season progresses, the performances and storylines become forced and childish, making the episodes all but unwatchable. There is a particular melancholy to this adaption because characters from this tale, which is based on tales weaved into the DC Comics universe, have made successful appearances in other works.
Tom Ellis’ portrayal of “Lucifer” on Fox and then Netflix was wonderful. And “Constantine,” played here by Jenna Coleman as the gender-flipped Joanna Constantine, was a brief (but beloved) NBC sitcom that aired from 2014 to 2015.
In order to explore parts of his “Sandman” tale with much more subtlety, Ryan brought the character to other DC shows on the CW, such as “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” Unlike other series where I was sorely let down by the first few episodes, I genuinely attempted to like this “Sandman” adaption.
I gave it a shot because I enjoy fantasy and a lot of Neil Gaiman’s other works, both on the page and in films. I thought that I must not be understanding the Netflix series in its entirety. I so continued to wait and watch. Instead, the show got worse as I watched more of the 10-episode season. Consequently, I’m not furious.
Beautifully produced, the series stays true to the comics’ Gothic style. Just like I question whether it should have even been made, I wish it were better.