I don’t even remember the first book I ever read by Neil Gaiman. It could very well have been American Gods, which blew me away with its dialogue and well wrought fully fleshed out world. But it took me a while to switch over to his comic book series The Sandman. Not because I don’t like comics: I love them. I just did not see how I needed images to accompany his writing. It seemed redundant. I was wrong, of course. The Sandman is an awesome comic book series with great artists contributing. And then they wanted to make it into a tv series. Ha.
Long time coming
Over the years many attempts had been made to get The Sandman onto a screen in some form or other. It kept being a project here or there, until Netflix stepped in and made it happen. The first season has been released and I am very happy with it. We watched one episode per week and I think that helped. I don’t think binging a series with so much detail is a good thing. The week-long break between each episode gave us time to absorb and reflect. Also, it extended the joy of watching this series.
The only thing I was worried about was that there were so many little stories in the comic books. If all of those stories had been weaved in, the episodes would have had so many storylines that it would have been hard to have a consistent storyline. But the adaptation of The Sandman was done very well. Plenty of weird off-shoots that still managed to tie in and weave back to the main plot of the season.
The Sandman: what is it about?
In a world where abstract ideas such as dreams, death and desire are walking around personified, some mortal wizard tries to capture and imprison Death. But he makes a mistake and captures Dream, also known as Morpheus, instead. Dream is kept imprisoned in a glass bottle for a hundred years, during which time his realm is without leadership. That doesn’t go well for mortals who need dreams. Dream manages ro escape eventually, a little pissed off that his family hasn’t even tried to help him. But his essential tools and equipment have been taken from him. His first quest is to retrieve this objects so he can once again rule his realm.
That’s the top layer of the story. Or the bottom one, if you prefer. On another level it is about a young woman who has been looking for her younger brother for a long time, after she and her mother fled her abusing father/husband. The father has passed away, but still the young woman is no closer to finding her brother and reuniting the small family she has left. On top of that, she has a special connection to Morpheus, one that could be dangerous for her.
Oh, it’s weird. But good.
The Sandman is a weird tv series. It’s fantasy, but not with your standard cut-and-paste elves, dwarves and dragons. Though there are magical creatures and ethereal realms. Neil Gaiman created a wonderful world in the comics and made sure it was translated well for a tv series. But you have to be able to suspend your disbelief for a little. There are plenty of real world hooks, such as the young boy who had been kept from his sister and mother. It is relatively easy to relate to that, as I think many people have been involved in or witnessed awful breakups of families. But then you also have to enter the boy’s dreams and believe them.
So it may not be a series for everyone. But you may be surprised. One of my aunts watched this. I didn’t expect that. So give it a chance too. The quality is quite nice, the dialogue feels so genuine in places and it has a role for Stephen Fry. What more can one ask for? The Sandman is definitely one of my current favourite series. Now, who is going to pick up American Gods and finish that series?