Television in the age of streaming is a voracious beast. It has to be continuously powered with entire series, seasons, cinematic universe all at once, just to be determined for a weekend. The need to attract subscribers is paramount and there are only so many stories in the world to tell them. Driven by this business-oriented need to reduce art to jars – or content, as it is now called – adaptations of works enjoyed in other media were made with breakneck speed at the end of the year, when projects previously languishing in development suddenly find all obstacles removed from their path.
Sand sellers – the popular comic book series from 1989-1996 written by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg – is one of those projects. It is largely considered uneditable due to its serialization and surreal visuals as lovingly portrayed by a group of artists who will carry the story of The Dream forward after Kieth and Dringenberg leave the series. , a screen adaptation that repeatedly failed to materialize despite numerous attempts starting in the 1990s. Decades later, Sand sellers was finally turned into flesh and blood like a Netflix series developed by Gaiman himself with David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) and Allan Heinberg (OC, Among other things). Its arrival immediately raises two questions: Will the skeptical demand for the content specialist bring it here as? a shell of what it could have been? And does it prove the holders of comic books, a singular work of the media, are “unrecordable”?
The good news is simple: They succeeded. By Netflix Sand sellers perhaps the best imaginable television version of the comic. The series stays true to the source material on a Peter Jacksonian level while also making some necessary compromises for its new medium. For comic book readers, those compromises are notes of discord that can be hard to ignore in a show that is otherwise a delightful review of an old favorite. For those who come to the new program, they’ll find a strange and listless series that moves with eerie rhythms and avoids traditional conflicts. It’s a story that takes time to make a case for, but will keep you hooked if you stay for a while.
The story begins with a shocking abruptness. Wealthy amateur occultist Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) assembles the last few bad vibes objects he needs to perform a ritual he hopes will grant him immortality. In one of the many moments where Sand sellers Assuming you’re familiar with its backstory, Roderick’s plan is only detailed in passing: He hopes to jail the personification of Death and force them to make his bid. Instead, he captures Death’s brother, Dream (Tom Sturridge), the king of dreams known to many – including Sandman – and imprisons him, in the hope that he can wear Dream down to give him what he wants.
After nearly a century of captivity, with Burgess’ son serving as warden when Roderick died, Dream escaped in a moment of carelessness, and Sand sellers shape. The first half of the season follows Dream as he rebuilds himself, serving as an introduction to the world. As Dream collects relics of his power, Sand sellers show viewers the scale of the program. There’s London in the past and present, the world of dreams, home to all sorts of fantasy and nightmare creatures, and even a trip to hell to meet Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie). Then, in the second half of the season, viewers are introduced to Rose Walker (Kyo Ra), a young woman who can unwittingly destroy everything Dream is working to rebuild.
Sand sellers is a remarkably faithful adaptation, which means that the show shares the weaknesses of the original material: Namely, its opening doesn’t make the best case for the story the viewer is in . While it’s refreshing to watch a fantasy series without feeling the need to constantly explain, when Sand sellers It is self-explanatory, it’s a matter of blatant contrast to the contemplative nature of the story, and it feels all the more discordant. Like the comic it’s based on, it’s not immediately obvious why you are being introduced to all these characters (and you will be introduced to so many figure) and how they fit into the overall scheme of things. It may also surprise you to study there To be There’s a big plan going on here, though making that happen is entirely up to Netflix to change the green light for future seasons.
For the uninitiated, the comic’s revered status can make many of the series’ selection of adaptations unintentionally comical. For example, Dream is depicted in the comics as a ghostly man with eyes filled with stars, an ethereal presence that cannot truly be portrayed on screen without thorough make-up and perhaps is some computer animation. In the show, he’s just a guy; Tom Sturridge is particularly committed trust he is the embodiment that you can see on the page. But in reality, he’s just a sullen, pouting Englishman – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you know (not a pervert) that he’s one of the Endless, with the Older and younger siblings also personify abstractions like Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) or Desire (Mason Alexander Park).
There are a bunch of little details like this that may or may not reach any given viewer. Patton Oswalt’s performance as a talking crow named Matthew. Boyd Holbrook’s recurring role as Corinthian, a nightmare dodger hiding from nightmares and working against the Dream, is also oddly presented, brimming with seductive but somewhat menacing men lazily on the screen.
Final, Sand sellers effectively serves as an alluring and sometimes quirky ad for the comic book, which sounds damned with lackluster compliments but can actually be the desired outcome. Part of what was created Sandman comic books are so beloved is how they have become a haven for social outcasts and eccentrics, a place where quirky characters happen to pop up at regular intervals. It is a work of alternative art published with DC Comics’ vast corpus, growing by estimate until its countercultural tendencies truly become culture – an ambition that has always been there. that, like Sandman will grow to become a story about all of stories, from Shakespeare to Ancient Greece to superhero comics. Dreams, after all, are made-up stories.
By Netflix Sand sellers can’t be like that. Despite being the best possible Netflix adaptation, it is still a Netflix adaptation – a project subject to the limitations and aspirations of the platform, to create an effortless experience that has the potential to be a monster. All the ways that this could compromise the original work are present in this series – visually, tonal and structurally. By Netflix Sand sellersas honest as possible, still an adaptation with the roughest edges smoothed out, a dark fantasy never before that darkness, an allegory that explains only one small too much.
That’s the trouble with trying to make dreams come true. The reason they stay with you is not the parts you see clearly, but the images that flicker out of reach, so real but indescribable, a little bit that no one but you knew was there.
Sand sellersThe first season of the series is currently streaming on Netflix.