It was a project that was long thought to be so unfilmable, even the creator didn’t want anyone to try to adapt it. But it seems that despite recent quality control issues, the stars have aligned and Netflix has done justice to The Sandman with its first season, live on the service today.
The Sandman has been well-reviewed so far from critics and fans alike. It currently has an 88% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience rating of 92% at the time of writing, praising the show as a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the classic Neil Gaiman story.
“From clever casting and strong writing to extraordinarily creepy, noir-meets-horror production design that makes thoughtful use of digital effects, this is easily one of the best small-screen comic book adaptations ever made,” says one glowing TIME review.
The Sandman consists of ten episodes that range in length from 37 minutes to 54 minutes, with most around 45-48 minutes. Pretty standard, but not “Disney superhero short” where all recent Marvel series were no more than six episodes apiece. Of course, despite being based on a DC comic, Sandman is quite a different genre, much more fantasy than superhero.
The Sandman isn’t presented as a limited series, meaning if it does well on Netflix, it could be coming back for more. Given these early scores and Netflix’s previous issues with comic book adaptations (Cough, Jupiter’s Legacy), I think they’d enjoy a hit like this, and it’s the icing on the cake that it’s a hit of all things. sandman project they made work, which is a difficulty level that exceeds most other customizations.
One of the reasons it works? That’s probably because Neil Gaiman finally agreed to sign up to help develop the adaptation personally. It took 35 years to get this adaptation made as it went through pitch after pitch, concept after concept, before finally manifesting itself as this Netflix show. Why did Gaiman change his mind and choose this format? Because of the way television changed, mixing the big budgets of movies with the long stories of long series of episodes:
“Times have changed and suddenly the idea that you have a 3000 page story that can be turned into 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 hours of quality television – it turns into something that is actually a huge feature and a wonderful thing,” said Gaiman.
For now, this looks like a win for everyone, Gaiman and his team, fans of the original, and Netflix, which needed wins in the face of the tougher times of late, with cuts, layoffs, and cancellations. The Sandman looks like a hit and could, over time, turn into that “40, 50, 60, 70, 80 hours of quality television” that Gaiman is so excited about. We’ll have to see.
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