Show Review: The Sandman

Netflix’s new 10 episode series adapted from the 1990’s DC comic book series, The Sandman, released August 5th, 2022, is an evocative yet refreshing addition to the supernatural genre.

The show, developed by Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman comics, produced by DC and directed by film producer Iain Smith has gained massive success, having earned its spot as the #1 streamed show on Netflix for three consecutive weeks after its initial release.

The Sandman follows Dream, or Lord Morpheus, one of the seven Endless of the universe. After ruling within his domain, the Dreaming, since the start of life, Dream is captured in the early 20th century during an amateur magic ritual, intended to enslave his sister Death, one of the other Endless. 

During his century long captivity, the Dreaming falls to ruins. The waking world faces the “sleeping sickness”, a state of eternal sleep. The nightmare Corinthian, a creation of Dream, flees to the waking world. And without the dream lord present to stop him, he wreaks terror on the people of Earth as a methodical serial killer.

Finally though, over 100 years after his imprisonment in the basement of a London mansion, Dream finally escapes, and works to reclaim his three magical tools that give him his power, repair the Dreaming and restore order to the waking world.

In the midst of Marvel Phase 4 and their never ending supply of mediocre shows, DC, despite the history of equally bad projects , has given us a new, refreshing and honest adaptation of an old but beloved comic book series. 

Despite containing nods to DC within the show, such as the inclusion of the magician Constantine, The Sandman is a standalone project and not canon to the DC main universe, which in my opinion this only serves to benefit the show. 

The concept of universal beings in The Sandman was tackled unbelievably well, being one of the best interpretations I’ve seen in the superhero genre, gaining its spot as one of my favorite aspects within the show. 

Episode 6, “The Sound of Her Wings”, follows Dream and Death, “siblings”, as they walk around London. Death speaks to her brother, saying that “The only reason we (The Endless) even exist [is that] we’re here to serve [humans]; we’re here for them.”

Throughout the same episode we see multiple people die, from cases of old age to a car accident; in the show it is portrayed as an out of body experience of sorts, where the person is unaware of their end until they are greeted by the comforting condolences of Death.

 She allows them time to comprehend their death, and even gives one man a chance to pray before wishing them off to an unseen afterlife. In this show, death is depicted as just the next step after life. I think this portrayal of death, while a popular concept, was done very elegantly, and despite it being a TV show, it felt comforting.

Throughout the series, The Sandman tackled many heavy topics, from mental illnesses and child abuse to the broken foster care system, but nothing was more masterfully approached than the topic of diversity. 

Every subtle moment of diversity and representation within this show felt completely natural and not in the slightest bit forced.

Between gender swaps,racial diversity, sexual orientation and gender identity, the show was constantly surprising me with refreshing and interesting takes on different characters.

In my opinion, The Sandman is what modern day movies and shows should look up to when addressing the idea of variation and representation. 

Unlike many other aspects of the show, the pacing was inconsistent. The first six episodes were paced incredibly well, with a fair distribution of fast paced action, plot developing moments, and some truly standout psychological aspects.

In contrast, the  final four episodes had a major shift in focus for the plot that felt out of place as the second half of the season. While it was still very entertaining, the plot accelerated much too fast near the end, and resulted in a rushed season finale that left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied, especially with the amount of build up it was given.. 

Even with a relatively happy ending, the season finale leaves the show with a cliffhanger and sets up for a Season 2, Netflix has yet to confirm its renewal.

With the exceptional writing, beautiful visuals and compelling story, the only real drawback was the pacing. I am super hopeful and excited to see what Season 2 will have to offer as I give The Sandman Season 1 an overall 9/10.