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C'mon Hollywood: Make Sandman into a TV show already!

THE SANDMAN is one of the seminal comic-book stories of all time. Written by Neil Gaiman, the series - about the adventures of Morpheus, the eponymous "Sandman" and personification of "Dreams" - explored the deep intricacies of mythology, themes of love and loss, and the art of storytelling itself. And through it all, it’s also full of great, original characters, emotional stories, and beautiful artwork. There’s a reason it’s considered a classic. And like many great comic-book properties before it, Hollywood has been trying to get its grubby hands all over it like a nasty old Roderick Burgess for decades, always ending in failure. The most recent attempt was only a few years ago, with Joseph Gordon Levitt reportedly ready to write, direct, and star. Guess how that turned out.

Thing is, like most great graphic novels, a feature films is simply not where this story belongs. It’s too sprawling, cerebral, and weird for that. Not saying films can’t be any (or all) of those things, but it’s much harder, and especially with just how sprawling, cerebral, and weird SANDMAN is. So…and this is pretty cliché at this point, but it’s true: why not make it a fucking TV show already?

Look, even just a few years ago even a TV show would seem like too much of a gamble for a SANDMAN adaptation. Not only for the lack of action, or the dark and violent imagery, but also just for the immense visuals effects that would be needed to bring the story to life.  However, all that’s changed with shows like GAME OF THRONES, where we saw feature film level VFX – replete with dragons, LORD OF THE RINGS-esque battles, giants, etc. – that we’ve never seen done so well on the small screen before. Now, to be fair, I don’t think SANDMAN needs to be at that level, but it’s still heartening to know that it’s possible. Not only that, but it’s already shown to be possible for another Gaiman story, AMERICAN GODS, which was adapted for STARZ just this year. That show also saw extensive – and unique – special effects being utilized for a television show; however, in that case, we also saw more of the kind of dreamlike and surreal imagery that SANDMAN would utilize.  Even more pertinently, a lot of stories in SANDMAN deal with the Endless (such as the titular Sandman, but other such beings as Death, Desire, and others) dealing with mortals on Earth. This means that - unlike GoT which is a made-up fantasy world - big VFX moments wouldn’t have to dominate the screen for SANDMAN, and could be saved for special moments or episodes (also similar to the aforementioned AMERICAN GODS).  

Most importantly, a show lets things breathe. There are so many rules for the Endless, their roles in mortal’s lives, the rules of their worlds and kingdoms, that in a film it would just be exhausting. In a show, rules can be doled out, little-by-little, and some mystery is actually appreciated. In a movie, exposition would be a death-kneel to something like this, and I imagine that has been one of the big sticking points with the feature film adaptations. Not to mention all the flashbacks, backstories, and large cast, that a TV show is the right way to go simply for logistics.

But how can they adapt everything from the book, even with the extra time? Some of it is intrinsically tied to DC lore (like references to other Sandmen from comics past, and even an appearance from the Justice League), while others parts of it are pretty dated. And, honestly, I don’t think you have to adapt everything verbatim – nor do I think you should. Let’s look at PREACHER, another hard to adapt comic-book that has recently come to the small screen. While people have had some misgivings about its plot detours, I actually find it refreshing. I loved the original Garth Ennis run, and there are definitely things I miss – and things I wish they had kept the same – but I think that at the core showrunners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg understand the tone of the piece (and, to be fair, the original run wasn’t perfect to begin with). Same with the best shows of this nature, like – again – GAME OF THRONES and AMERICAN GODS (and to a lesser extent THE WALKING DEAD): they understand the appeal of the source material, while making changes to make it palatable for the medium of TV.

Now, I don’t think you should soften Morpheus’s rough edges (he still needs an arc), nor do I think you should make the show more action-oriented (which was one of the big contentions from the recent JGL version, who stated that “Sandman should never throw a punch”). But there are so many places you could go with SANDMAN – with the world being so vast and interesting – that if you found a good showrunner that’s willing to get weird, wild, and imaginative, there’s no reason this shouldn’t succeed. We have audiences already primed for cerebral comic-book fare (look at the success of the similarly trippy LEGION), as well as dark Gaiman properties (like AMERICAN GODS), as well as a willingness to adapt and change a property as long as it keeps its soul (like Rogen and Evans’ PREACHER).

Look, THE SANDMAN has caught the imagination of many writers, artists, and filmmakers, and for good reason. Its artistry, characters, and imagination have stood the test of time. And we finally have the technology – coupled with the influx of cerebral and unique comic-book properties coming to the screen – that the time seems right for The Dreaming to return!

And, seriously, I just want to see a live-action Death on screen already. *Swoon*.

But what about you Schmoes? You down for a SANDMAN TV series? And if so, any fan castings? Either way, sound off below!

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite SANDMAN story?
Source: JoBlo.com

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