Synopsis: A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven. The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus. The Dream King. As he mends the cosmic – and human – mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.
The Sandman Season One adapts the first two comic volumes. Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. And does so spectacularly. We see Dream get captured by Roderick Burgess and eventually escape. Only to start a quest to retrieve his stolen tools and rebuild the Dreaming. Additionally, the Sandman must end Rose Walker, the dream vortex’s, threat and save the dreamworld and the real world. Further, the comics’ storylines are masterfully interwoven and updated for a 21st-century audience. There were also some nice references to other Sandman comics like Overture and Death: The High Cost of Living. I got a kick out of Jed being his own “Sandman”. I also cried when Morpheus said, “I am hope”. Thus winning his duel with Lucifer.
On top of that, I enjoyed how the characters’ motivations were more fleshed out. Ie the Corinthian believing that Dream doesn’t care about his subjects. And John Dee styling himself as the hero of his own narrative. Moreover, I loved the real-world drama that Rose’s search for Jed and Lyta’s pregnancy brought to the show. Which was brilliantly worked into the story arc and given as much importance as the fantasy elements. The ending was sweet and satisfying. As was the nascent threat from Lucifer Morningstar and Azazel. Which I sincerely hope we’ll get to see in Season 2.
Tom Sturridge is the perfect Sandman. Showing Dream’s moral ambiguity and also his rigidity of attitude. Over and above that Sturridge brought subtle humour and playfulness to his role. Jenna Coleman and David Thewlis gave the performances of their careers. As Johanna Constantine and John Dee respectively. Coleman absolutely owned the screen. And Thewlis showed his range and titanic charisma. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is sensational as Death bringing the micro-expressions of Didi’s awesome power and gentleness and age.
Charles Dance is brilliantly horrible as Roderick Burgess. Kyo Ra by contrast is utterly likable and watchable as Rose Walker. Gwendoline Christie captured Lucifer’s conniving seductiveness. Boyd Holbrook is charming and villainous in equal measure. Mason Alexander Park is a fantastic and subtle Desire. Razane Jammal brings out Lyta Hall’s emotions brilliantly. Stephen Fry is a phenomenal Fiddler’s Green. Vivienne Acheampong anchored her Lucienne scenes with dependability and common sense. Sanjeev Bhaskar and Asim Chaudhry were perfect as Cain and Abel.
Patton Oswalt was excellent as Matthew the Raven. As was Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead in their scene together. Niamh Walsh and Joely Richardson were completely believable as the same character at different ages. Sandra James-Young depicts Unity Kinkaid’s warmth and kindness to a tee. And Donna Preston is very good as Despair.
The Sandman’s CGI of the Dreaming was beautiful. As were the effects of Dream being snared by Burgess’s binding spell. My one complaint is I thought the Corinthian’s eyes could perhaps have been better realised. Other than that, the CGI throughout this series was spellbinding. Special mention to when Fiddler’s Green becomes a place again as well as the rendition of Hell we saw in episode 4. I also loved when Morpheus holds John Dee in the palm of his hand. By the same token the FX of the Sandman’s shadow sending Galt to the darkness were great. As was Galt’s recreation in the season’s closing moments.
The Sandman’s incidental music really created that jarring, uneasy feeling that dreams sometimes give you. Being ever so slightly dissonant and not what you would expect.
The Sandman Season One is the perfect Sandman adaptation. It is representative of Black, queer, trans and mentally ill people. As well as retaining the feminism that runs through all of Mr. Gaiman’s work. I’m not going to lie, this show is very dark and twisted at times. But with an undercurrent of hope present. If you’ve never read the Sandman, watch this. If you’re into fantasy and horror, watch this. It will make your mind bigger on the inside and give you empathy for others. As well as telling a story unmatched in any medium.
Check out our The Sandman: Endless Nights review here
Check out our Mirrormask review here
- Incidental Music10