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The Sandman - Episode 1.1: Sleep of the Just - Review

  The long awaited The Sandman dropped season one today on Netflix. Showrunner Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, Grey’s Anatomy, Party of Five) co-wrote “Sleep of the Just” with the comic creator and writer Neil Gaiman and David S Goyer (Blade, Constantine, Flash Forward) who had originally been working on a movie adaptation. I liked the episode (and I’m a fan of the comic), but Heinberg’s credits didn’t initially inspire me with confidence. The episode was directed by Mike Barker, whose other credits include The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, Outlander, and Broadchurch – a pretty terrific resume! 

        The episode is as richly visual and you would hope it would be. Many of the images have direct references in the comics. Despite being called the comic that could never be filmed, they’ve done an excellent job of recreating the images and atmosphere. The acting is terrific so far – with a cast of thousands still to come! This review will only comment on the first episode. Even though the entire series dropped, I plan on taking my time to savour it, so you can expect to see these reviews about once a week.

The title “Sleep of the Just” is the title of the first issue of the comic – the episode itself seems mostly to be referred to as 1.1, but it’s clear the story is being told essentially in the order of the comic issues. The narrative is a bit re-worked, but plenty of shots are right out of the comic, as I’ve already noted. 

 

      The changes that they have made aren’t especially jarring, such as having Dream (Tom Sturridge) try to stop The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) in 1916 just as he’s summoned by Roderick Burgess’s (Charles Dance) black magic. Dance is absolutely terrific playing yet another dysfunctional father. Alex, the subject of Roderick’s abuse, is played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Laurie Kynaston, and Benedick Blythe. Burgess’s death, of course, is nothing like it is in the comic. I think I’m going to really enjoy Holbrook as The Corinthian, and I never get enough of Dance.

The Corinthian is going to keep popping up… We get to see a little of Ethel Cripps (Niamh Walsh), which isn’t in this issue but whose story is important and it comes up later in the comic storyline. Walsh was also in Good Omens, so clearly Gaiman likes her! We don’t get the story of Ethel stealing the magical items that Roderick stole from Morpheus (Dream) until later in the comic. 

I’m curious as to how easy to follow the narrative was for people who haven’t read the comic. In point of fact, the comic itself can be challenging, but it’s supposed to be as it mimics dreams – which never make real, logical sense, do they? If you’re wondering about all the little hanging threads, don’t worry. Those will get picked back up – like the people trapped in their dreams and the ones trapped in a sleepwalking state. 

Sturridge does a great job as Morpheus. It will be interesting to see the character develop – and he will do a lot more than simply sit and stare out of a glass ball for the rest of the series. He’s set up for the traditional quest now as he’ll have to go about retrieving his red crystal, sand, and helmet in order to save his own realm.

It’s hard to say who I’m most excited to see coming up. Definitely can wait for Mark Hamill ans the voice of Mervyn Pumpkinhead, who we just see in the background of this episode. I’m also looking forward to Patton Oswalt as the Raven. I have to admit that I was dying to see Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, but actually think she looks a bit odd in the promos – what have they done to her hair?

What did you think of the episode? I’d give it a solid ‘A.’ Good writing, good acting, and good attention to details. I’m enjoying it so far – Have you watched the whole season yet? Who is your favorite character so far? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!




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