My thoughts, reactions, and questions while watching ‘The Sandman’ TV series

When the TV series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s legendary graphic novel series, The Sandman, premiered in early August on Netflix, several friends alerted me to the fact that a reel librarian is one of the main characters. As I was a newbie to The Sandman realm (but already a firm fan and reader of Neil Gaiman’s writing, a seeming contradiction that is possible, as I explain), I decided to live-tweet my reactions while I watched each episode of The Sandman series. The first season of this series included 10 main episodes, and then dropped a bonus eleventh episode a couple of weeks later. And in this post, I have collected my thoughts, reactions, and questions I had while watching the TV series.

To prep for the series, I listened to Tom and Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest podcast, “Everything You Wanted to Know About the Sandman,” which served as a good intro for the main characters and themes. I particularly appreciated that Tom is a hard-core fan of The Sandman, whereas Lorenzo is a newbie like me, so I felt seen –and not silly or shamed — in not being familiar already with the Sandman realm.

Here is a trailer for The Sandman series via Netflix:

The Sandman | Official Trailer | Netflix” video uploaded by Netflix, Standard YouTube License

My thoughts and reactions for each episode

I structured each episode’s reactions as its own thread on my Reel Librarians Twitter account, so you should be able to read through the entire thread in each embedded tweet below. (And if you’re not on Twitter, it may work out best to click the date on each Twitter thread and open in an incognito window to view.)

Episode 1, “Sleep of the Just”

Episode 1 was adapted from The Sandman #1 (“Sleep of the Just”).

Episode 2, “Imperfect Hosts”

Episode 2 was adapted from The Sandman #2 (“Imperfect Hosts”).

Episode 3, “Dream a Little Dream of Me”

Episode 3 was adapted from The Sandman #3 (“Dream a Little Dream of Me”).

Episode 4, “A Hope in Hell”

Episode 4 was adapted from The Sandman #4 (“A Hope in Hell”) and #5 (“Passengers”).

Episode 5, “24/7”

Episode 5 was adapted from The Sandman #6 (“24 Hours”) and #7 (“Sound and Fury”).

Episode 6, “The Sound of Her Wings”

This was my favorite episode!!

Episode 6 was adapted from The Sandman #8 (“The Sound of Her Wings”) and #13 (“Men of Good Fortune”).

Episode 7, “The Doll’s House”

Episode 7 was adapted from The Sandman #10 (“The Doll’s House”) and #11 (“Moving In”).

Episode 8, “Playing House”

Episode 8 was adapted from The Sandman #12 (“Playing House”) and #15 (“Into the Night”).

Episode 9, “Collectors”

Episode 9 was adapted from The Sandman #14 (“Collectors”).

Episode 10, “Lost Hearts”

Episode 10 was adapted from The Sandman #14 (“Collectors”) and #16 (“Lost Hearts”)

Episode 11, “Dream of a Thousand Cats / Calliope”

This bonus episode was adapted from The Sandman #18 (“Dream of a Thousand Cats”) and #17 (“Calliope”)

Random reflections on the first season

Diverse casting

I really appreciated the diverse casting in this series! Reflecting back, my favorite performances and characters all happened to be Black women:

  • Lucienne, the librarian of The Dreaming, played by Vivienne Acheampong. Loved EVERYTHING about this portrayal and character, the actor, the costume, the little elf ears, everything.
  • Death, Dream’s big sister, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste with a seemingly effortless balance of gravitas, warmth, and lightness. Such a compelling a character and performance.
  • Rosemary, a small but memorable character in Episode 4, “A Hope in Hell,” played by Sarah Niles with such empathy.
Lucienne Sandman GIF
Lucienne Sandman GIF via Tenor.com

Strong runners-up acting honors to Mason Alexander Park as Desire — so magnetic! — and Tom Sturridge as Dream, who really does seem perfect for this role.

I also loved Hob (played by Ferdinand Kingsley), Johanna Constantine (played by Jenna Coleman, in a covetous trench coat), and how the Fates were portrayed (Nina Wadia as Fate Mother, Souad Faress as Fate Crone, and Dinita Gohil as Fate Maiden).

I also loved reading that many characters were gender-swapped in the series (Lucienne for Lucien in the comics, Johanna Constantine for John Constantine in the comics), and/or played by actors of different ethnicities (Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Vanesu Samunyai as Rose Walker, to name a few). Representation matters and adds so much more depth to the writing, the acting, as well as the viewing experience.

Listen to your librarians

Reviewing my Twitter threads, I definitely highlighted the theme across multiple episodes of needing to listen to librarians! Many characters (but not always Dream!) recognized the value of Lucienne, the ever-faithful and ever-wise counsel — and often the voice of reason. ❤ Whenever Dream didn’t listen to Lucienne, he regretted it. This is a life lesson, y’all: Listen to your librarians!

My favorite scene overall was in Episode 2, “Imperfect Hosts,” when Lucienne shared that she had stayed even when all the words in the books in the library had gone. This was such a poignant exchange.

Lucienne: Sometime after you left, all the books in the library became bound volumes of blank paper. The next day, the whole library was gone. I never found it again.

Dream: And yet you remained while others fled. The royal librarian of an abandoned kingdom.

Lucienne: I never felt abandoned. I knew you would return.

Fave episode

My favorite episode overall was Episode 6, “The Sound of Her Wings,” as it was a perfectly timed breather of an episode between the arcs of the first half and the VERY intense and unsettling story arc of the second half. Both Hob’s pure joy and Death’s warm empathy made me cry, but in different ways.

I Know Death GIF
I Know Death GIF via Tenor.com

First half vs. second half

Overall, I enjoyed the first half of the series more than the second half. The first half was packed with powerhouse actors (Charles Dance, Joely Richardson, Gwendoline Christie, etc.), while the second half’s production values (and acting overall) didn’t feel on the same level. However, the series overall still kept me hooked.

And the bonus episode was a stroke of genius, as I loved the introduction of the animated segment! I hope they continue mixing in animation!

All are welcome here

I felt the TV series did a good job welcoming newbies to the Sandman realm, as well as explaining major concepts, like Dream’s narration explaining the Dreaming at the beginning of Episode 1. It felt like the entire first half of the series was more of a prologue and helping establish characters and themes. Perhaps that’s also why I enjoyed the first half more, as I was happily exploring the realm?

Voiceover as character development?

Although voice narration can bug me when it’s overused and unnecessary, I quite liked the voice narration from Dream throughout this series. I think it worked because Dream is a thinker and seems to be always in his head, so the voice narration felt more like character development; we were able to have a window into his thoughts and musings and outlook on life and dreams.

Continuing the conversation

After watching the TV series, I agreed to purchase The Sandman graphic novel series, so my husband — who has been a reader of The Sandman comics from the beginning — was very excited! It’s on back order, so it will have to wait a while before I am able to compare the Lucien librarian character in the comics with the Lucienne librarian character in the series.

Did you watch The Sandman series? Are you a veteran of the graphic novels, or a newbie like me? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used

  • The Sandman (Comic Book).” Wikipedia, 22 Aug. 2022. Accessed 23 Aug. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • The Sandman (TV Series).” Wikipedia, 23 Aug. 2022. Accessed 23 Aug. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • The Sandman. Created by Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg. Perf. Tom Sturridge, Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, David Thewlis, Jenna Coleman, Gwendolyn Christie, Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Netflix, 2022. Based on the graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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