There are a lot of big genre shows on the way in 2022: House of the Dragon, The Lord of the Rings, not to mention the return of favorites like Stranger Things and The Boys. But for my money, the most exciting series coming down the pike is The Sandman, Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic series published by DC between 1989 and 1996.
The Sandman is about…y’know, finishing that sentence is always hard. The main character is Dream (Tom Sturridge), the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. The story begins when a group of occultists capture Dream in a failed attempt to imprison his sister Death (who’s a complete sweetheart, as it ends up). After he escapes, he sets about fixing all that’s gone wrong in his realm over his decades-long captivity.
But that’s selling The Sandman short; it’s far grander and weirder than that. Over the course of the story, we see what really inspired William Shakespeare to write A Midsummer Night’s Dream, attend a serial killer convention, learn that cats secretly want to rule the world, visit hell (where Lucifer is played by Game of Thrones veteran Gwendoline Christie), and much more. It’s a sprawling, highly imaginative tale that I have a hard time believing Netflix can pull off…but if they can, we are in for a treat.
If Netflix adapts The Sandman faithfully, it will be disturbing in places
The Sandman also deals frankly with some pretty intense themes; not all dreams are pleasant. The first season will (likely) adapt the first volume of the comic series, Preludes & Nocturnes, which includes the infamous story “24 Hour Diner.” In this tale, the DC villain Doctor Destiny (I’m betting Netflix will file off the DC serial numbers) gets ahold of Dream’s magical ruby while he’s imprisoned and uses it to brutally torture a group of people in a restaurant, until Dream finds and stops him. That’s one of the series’ more bombastic stories, but if Netflix is going to adapt it, it’s going to be nasty.
That’s why it’s not surprising to hear from CBR that The Sandman has been rated TV-MA, for “language, violence, sex, self-harm, suicide, [and] smoking,” according to the information available on Netflix itself. “For Mature Audiences. May not be suitable for ages 17 and under.”
The Sandman spans a lot of different tones, from warmly funny to darkly ironic to tragic in the classic sense, but much of it is indeed suited for mature audiences, although it’s never gratuitous. This show is a big swing for Netflix, and I hope they hit it out of the park.
The Sandman comes out sometime this year. Bring it.