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Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN adaptation for Netflix


Werthead
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Quite intrigued by all the discussion of this series. I’ve seen 7 episodes now, and I think it’s fair to say it’s an excellent adaption of some slightly uneven material, which seems to be the consensus of the early Sandman stuff (I’ve read Preludes, nothing more).

A can’t quite manage to declare it a phenomenon as some people seem to feel though, there’s just too much missing when it comes to an actual season of television as we’d usually think of it. So far, we’ve seen very little of the stakes if Dream doesn’t do his job. He didn’t do it for a century, and some people went to sleep and some people couldn’t sleep. But life went on apparently? So are we rooting for this guy? What exactly is it he does anyway? Death escorts souls to the other side, what’s the Dream equivalent? 

What’s the actual story? He retrieved his things and gained some classically-nebulous “power”. So that he can … well we don’t know. Be Dream I guess. And now he’s wandering around semi-involved in some other stuff. In almost every TV show I can think of, in some way, there are characters who intrigue you, for whom you want to follow and see what happens to them. Good characters, bad ones, good events, bad events. I just don’t see that here. I’ll definitely keep watching, as it’s very good television, but it almost feels like each episode may as well be the pilot for a new show you’ve decided to watch and you’re still finding your bearings with. There’s not really a through line of story, or of character, or of theme. 

Which all sounds quite harsh, but I really think it’s very good. I’m just wrapping my head around how it manages that when it’s eschewed so many aspects of what we’d normally consider a story. It borders on being more of a Black Mirror style series, just with Dream as a familiar face each time. But it also doesn’t have the impact of Black Mirror episode to episode, it’s not quite confident enough yet in what’s it’s actually saying.

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I am hearing a lot about "wokeness" in this adaptation and while I am aware of the changes, I can't say I am bothered one bit by them.

Here is a thing. The criticism about "woke" is on aesthetic level, if I may say that way. Or visual. The criticism I am reading is focused more on the fact that Lucifer is not male, or Death is not while female etc. I haven't seen much of saying that anyone actually failed in what they were supposed to do - bring these fantastical beings to the screen. Contrasting this to Game of Thrones where visual aspect was always pleasing, but the substance was lacking, here we have that some people find that aesthetical, visual aspect lacking or inappropriate, while they don't delve too deep into whether these changes affected the narrative of the series.

Lastly, this is a modern adaptation helmed by a modern, and if you please, woke, author. He seems to be perfectly content to adapt his work into a modern TV adaptation. I don't see anything political or even problematic about it. I mean, if works like these don't give us opportunity to "play" with roles and even focus more on certain intangible aspects of casting and not just visuals.

And as I have written on Twitter, it seems we will need George R.R. Martin to return the favor and proclaim "N.G. is not your b**ch" :D

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We've discussed this before, I'm sure. But the original definition of 'woke' is simple. Black folks on Twitter would tell each other to 'stay woke', semi-seriously, meaning to stay alert to the ways in which systemic racism affected and endangered them. If you're using another definition, it is almost certainly a definition intended to undermine and discredit the original, much in the same way as right-wingers have done with 'social justice', 'political correctness', and a variety of other terms that mean fairly reasonable and innocuous things that right-wingers hate because they highlight problems that only affect the disempowered.

Anyway, point is, none of the casting in this series is remotely a problem from a demographic point of view. Still plenty of cishet presenting white men in important roles. Calm down.

On 8/14/2022 at 1:05 AM, Corvinus85 said:

I am also confused about the nature of the Endless. So searching online I found a bit what they are, but why just these grimm aspects of life? What about love, hope, optimism, etc?

I'm a bit confused by this because these things are all part of the Endless too. They mostly have positive sides. The thing about Gaiman's portrayal of Death that made it catch on is that he views love and care as an integral part of what she does. Love in other forms comes into what Dream and Desire do, too. Delirium is originally Delight and that's a very positive thing: even as Delirium, she has positive aspects.

Then again, the comic was originally pitched as a horror comic, as others have noted, running as part of a stable with Swamp Thing and Hellblazer and other 'mature' DC titles that had a horror theme. So there is that influence in the stories. But as concepts, there's nothing inherently grim about dreaming or desire.

 

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I'm still slowly working my way through the series, just through lack of time more than anything else. I got stuck at Ep5: 24/7, because I've also been doing a re-read of the comics, and it has been a very long time since I saw them, and certainly missed quite a few it seems. 24/7 in the comics isn't a story I especially loved, having just read it, it feels like a tale I've seen a few times, I mostly tried to rush through it.

So I wasn't very enthusiastic about seeing it on screen, knowing where it's going felt like it was going to be a chore. But it was a big improvement on the original, mainly I think because Thewlis is a brilliant actor and adds a level of humanity to a character who came across like a hokey Gollum at times in the comic. The characters in the diner were also far more human and engaging, less like caricatures. So it's good to see how these things can be improved upon.

As for wokeness, I'm generally pretty put off by shows and movies that try to wear their woke badge front and centre, mainly because I don't think you get extra points for that in 2022, and you can't use it to cover bad writing. The general issue I think people have with 'wokeness' in movies is when there seems to be a modern agenda hammered onto the top of a classic property, superseding the intent of the original to make a political point. It's hard to criticise Sandman here because the original was doing all these things anyway, it doesn't feel like there are too many unnecessary changes, and it feels in the sprit of the comics. Yes there are times where it feels pretty egregious, but mostly it's when they bring in simply bad actors, it feels like a pat on the head to minorities rather than a showcase. 
 

3 minutes ago, mormont said:

If you're using another definition, it is almost certainly a definition intended to undermine and discredit the original, much in the same way as right-wingers have done with 'social justice', 'political correctness', and a variety of other terms that mean fairly reasonable and innocuous things that right-wingers hate because they highlight problems that only affect the disempowered.

It's worth remembering that 'woke' as an insult didn't come out of nowhere, it was a reaction to a real phenomenon of mostly white, mostly middle class hyper sensitive online activists who were trying to prove how 'woke' they were to the world, mainly by raging at people and crying. There is a reason the term evolved to mean something different to it's original meaning, and it's also interesting that 'woke sensibility' took over much of main stream media in the last few years, so that it basically is the mainstream institutional view. 

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14 hours ago, DaveSumm said:

Quite intrigued by all the discussion of this series. I’ve seen 7 episodes now, and I think it’s fair to say it’s an excellent adaption of some slightly uneven material, which seems to be the consensus of the early Sandman stuff (I’ve read Preludes, nothing more).

A can’t quite manage to declare it a phenomenon as some people seem to feel though, there’s just too much missing when it comes to an actual season of television as we’d usually think of it. So far, we’ve seen very little of the stakes if Dream doesn’t do his job. He didn’t do it for a century, and some people went to sleep and some people couldn’t sleep. But life went on apparently? So are we rooting for this guy? What exactly is it he does anyway? Death escorts souls to the other side, what’s the Dream equivalent? 

What’s the actual story? He retrieved his things and gained some classically-nebulous “power”. So that he can … well we don’t know. Be Dream I guess. And now he’s wandering around semi-involved in some other stuff. In almost every TV show I can think of, in some way, there are characters who intrigue you, for whom you want to follow and see what happens to them. Good characters, bad ones, good events, bad events. I just don’t see that here. I’ll definitely keep watching, as it’s very good television, but it almost feels like each episode may as well be the pilot for a new show you’ve decided to watch and you’re still finding your bearings with. There’s not really a through line of story, or of character, or of theme. 

Which all sounds quite harsh, but I really think it’s very good. I’m just wrapping my head around how it manages that when it’s eschewed so many aspects of what we’d normally consider a story. It borders on being more of a Black Mirror style series, just with Dream as a familiar face each time. But it also doesn’t have the impact of Black Mirror episode to episode, it’s not quite confident enough yet in what’s it’s actually saying.

Patience.  I will say this the Sandman arc that is dearest to my heart will always be “Brief Lives”.  Patience.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison
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I also got stuck at 24/7 like another poster here. I found it simply horrific in all the senses of the word and all aspects including meta. I also fell asleep halfway, tried again and realized I so hated the story for this ep and well, went to sleep again.

Probably exactly what Gaiman intended, to be uncomfortable and disturbing, to show the  effects of the ruby. Also what happens when you force a world of complete truth and loyalty to one’s instincts and desires, on beings that are in fact not good and flawed at core.

Yes I am still of the opinion that humans are selfish and self-centered at heart, that we are not inherently good. There’s a reason why we yell at our kids when they grab other kids’ toys to ask nicely if they can take a turn, or repeat at nauseam that they need to be nice and sharing is caring, or to remind them not to lie to us because we are on a need to know basis about things that concern them. All the time.

Sure there are kids that don’t need ANY parenting or any teaching and they’ll know to be considerate & truthful (at the same time, not separately), they are good and do the right thing for the fellow kid by instinct even if they think is detrimental to their immediate desires. But honestly I have not seen one in my life and they seem to be mythical creatures to most parents I know or talked to. I’m sure they exist though.

Anyway, enough of my rant on that subject and good job on the ep story I suppose. I’ll most likely skip the other half and get to the next ep. I can’t handle Marsh fucking the 21 yr old son while the mom is sleeping. I mean I know they imply is consensual but it feels like not. Like he’s taking advantage somehow. It was way too creepy and horrible  and I’m not watching that man saying that to that mom, like in spite. Fuck him. Never mind the rest including the murder in self defense. Jesus, it’s like I just watched the whole shitshow again.

/end rant

 

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I've seen everything but the finale. Not familiar with property really, although I do read Neil Gaiman novels a lot. I'm really impressed with this show. Best fantasy I've seen in a long time. And it's not an easy thing to put to screen. Not well anyway, there's plenty of CGI wanking out there. Really good characters, even minor and mundane ones are well drawn usually.

Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian is killing it. I have no idea what will happen, but I kind of hope isn't gone in future seasons. Quite possible given what he is I guess.

 

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1 hour ago, Corvinus85 said:

So hindsight of what happened in episode 1 and what we saw about Death.

  Reveal hidden contents

Death would have been right there, taking Roderick Burgess away when he died, no? And she had no desire to free the brother she seems to like.

 

Spoiler

I believe she said she wasn’t physically present for every death.

 

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9 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

So hindsight of what happened in episode 1 and what we saw about Death.

  Reveal hidden contents

Death would have been right there, taking Roderick Burgess away when he died, no? And she had no desire to free the brother she seems to like.

 

Gaiman has said that the Endless knew what happened to Dream the second it happened and they chose not to interfere because it wasn't really in their remit and also, having known Dream for eternity, that he'd just yell at them for fighting his battle for them. As far as the Endless are concerned, being imprisoned for a few years is like stubbing your toe, annoying but nothing to get too freaked out about.

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4 hours ago, Werthead said:

Gaiman has said that the Endless knew what happened to Dream the second it happened and they chose not to interfere because it wasn't really in their remit and also, having known Dream for eternity, that he'd just yell at them for fighting his battle for them. As far as the Endless are concerned, being imprisoned for a few years is like stubbing your toe, annoying but nothing to get too freaked out about.

But isn't it suggested elsewhere in the show that without Dream the dreaming goes to shit and then the whole world is somehow at risk?

I keep forgetting to ask, does the comic explain the purpose of the ruby better? When it breaks he comments on how powerful he is and how he forgot how much of himself he'd put into it. Why did he do that?

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1 minute ago, RumHam said:

But isn't it suggested elsewhere in the show that without Dream the dreaming goes to shit and then the whole world is somehow at risk?

I keep forgetting to ask, does the comic explain the purpose of the ruby better? When it breaks he comments on how powerful he is and how he forgot how much of himself he'd put into it. Why did he do that?

Spoiler

John broke the ruby, no? In an attempt to take control of the Dreaming. But it's unclear if Dream manipulated him in doing it or it just worked out for him.

 

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7 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:
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John broke the ruby, no? In an attempt to take control of the Dreaming. But it's unclear if Dream manipulated him in doing it or it just worked out for him.

 

Spoiler

Right, I just don't understand why he made the ruby in the first place? What was the upside of taking some of his power away from himself and putting it in an object that he could and did lose?

 

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10 minutes ago, RumHam said:

But isn't it suggested elsewhere in the show that without Dream the dreaming goes to shit and then the whole world is somehow at risk?

The Dreaming goes to shit but it can be repaired.

I do wonder if Death had been captured as planned, with the possibility of far worse things happening, that maybe the other Endless would have stepped in. I suspect not.

Earth being destroyed is not a major problem because the Endless serve the entire universe, not just Earth. If one part of the domain you deal with is destroyed, you shrug and tend to the rest. Although the Endless do seem quite fond of Earth and humans.

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13 minutes ago, RumHam said:

But isn't it suggested elsewhere in the show that without Dream the dreaming goes to shit and then the whole world is somehow at risk?

I keep forgetting to ask, does the comic explain the purpose of the ruby better? When it breaks he comments on how powerful he is and how he forgot how much of himself he'd put into it. Why did he do that?

Yes.  Dream later comments on the danger and necessity of tools.  He created the ruby to focus and make himself better able to use his power and became dependent upon it.  It’s destruction restored that portion of himself he had embued in the Ruby and restored that power to himself.

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Just now, Werthead said:

 

Earth being destroyed is not a major problem because the Endless serve the entire universe, not just Earth.

 

I would say this is part of the mythos that the show has not as of yet done a good job making clear. In fairness, the comic didn't really start going into that until later but it did have J'onn recognising Morpheus and seeing him in a different form and I think a couple of other bits, whereas really the only thing the show has so far to that effect is a fairly missable line about 'a universe was lost' the last time he mishandled a vortex. 

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My wife and I finished the series over the weekend and loved it. Neither one of us have read the comic (I bought the first graphic novel years ago, but never got very far).

My wife especially is fascinated with dreams, so the subject matter was right up her alley. We both enjoyed the one-off episodes very much, even 24/7. It was dark and disturbing, almost straight out of a twilight zone episode. I can see how the narrative structure would throw off some, but the stories were relevant to Dream's personal journey, so they made sense within the over all season arc.

I did pull out the graphic novel after finishing just to compare. I can see why it was so influential when it came out, but I'm happy to wait to see how the adaptation progresses. 9/10

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