The Sandman—Season 1

sandman season 1 poster review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great start and adaptation of the comic

Some of the tonal shifts between the first volume and the second volume in the comic are odd here as well

sandman season 1 title card review episode guide list

The Dreaming Awaits!

Dream (Tom Sturridge) of the Endless has just been captured by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) sending the world into decades of uneasy sleep.  When Morpheus escapes his captors, he discovers his kingdom in disarray and learns that the sources of his powers have been scattered around the world and dimensions.  Morpheus must reclaim his powers and rebuild his kingdom, but the appearance of a dream Vortex could threaten all reality.

The Sandman—Season 1 is a DC Comics fantasy adventure TV series.  Released on Netflix on August 5, 2022, the series is an adaptation of the first two books (The Sandman:  Preludes and Nocturnes and The Sandman:  A Doll’s House) of Neil Gaiman’s award winning comic book series.  The series faced years of development issues before being released and received positive reviews.  An extra stand-alone episode was released on August 12, 2022 adapting stories from The Sandman:  Dream Country.

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He’s got the whole sleeping world in his hand

I loved The Sandman.  I’ve read the entire series at least a few times and the first two volumes more than that.  With a compelling story, interesting characters, and a unique storytelling, The Sandman has endless potential…but it also scares the crap out of me as a jaded streaming viewer.

The Sandman is very vast and has a lot of story to tell…which isn’t always a good thing for Netflix which has a habit of cancelling series mid-run.  The season does a solid job trying to tell one complete story but does leave a lot of lingering plotlines for future season.  Regardless, there are still a lot of stories from the series to collect, and it would be a shame to only get part of them and not the whole saga.

sandman season 1 episode 7 the dolls house desire despair donna preston mason alexander park

We have Death, Desire, and Despair…now all we need is Destiny, Delirium, and a return of Destruction!

The second problem that The Sandman faces is that a lot of what made The Sandman popular was the single issues that really helped develop the characters and the Endless.  These were usually standalone issues that would be hard to adapt in the short season form of Netflix shows.  In this season you find “The Sound of Her Wings” which was the issue that introduced Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and they smartly combine it with the story that introduces the Sandman’s more humanistic side he develops with a human named Hobb (Ferdinand Kingsley).  The extra bonus episode also does this by fleshing out more of the role of Morpheus as the ruler of the Dreaming.  It is a means to go forward that allows the richness of the story to still come out.

The first part of the series is “Preludes and Nocturnes” which was a much more traditional comic book story with monsters and enemies (the original series featured some appearances like Martian Manhunter and John Dee was officially Dr. Destiny).  The second storyline “Doll’s House” is a bit more the tone of the whole Sandman series and you can see the difference while watching the show because with things like the Cereal convention it becomes more surreal.

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Hope The Sandman survives to get to Barbie’s tale

The casting is great and captures the characters.  The Sandman premiered in 1989 (which does cause some math/adaptation issues).  It was also one of the first comics to really deal with gender fluidity and other characters who fell into different aspects of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.  There is a lot of ambiguity to the characters (Desire played by Mason Alexander Park uses they/them pronouns which is accurate to the character).  There is a gender swap with John Constantine to Johanna Constantine played by Jenna Coleman but that too feels right since there have been a number of Constantine actors over the years (the same is true of Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer who is pretty comic accurate in portrayal)…and it avoids comparison or repeating.  Other characters like David Thewlis and Razane Jammal are separated from their comic book counterparts a bit by the series (but that also makes sense).  There is some race swapping and I could easy see the series accused of being “woke” but that would be from people who didn’t read the comic book (the Endless literally look like how others perceive them in race or identity as seen when Morpheus is seen in Hell by Deborah Oyelade’s Nada who knew Morpheus as an African god of sleep)…so changing Death’s race is a moot point and plays in to the idea that after centuries of life race-sex-gender and other aspects don’t really matter in the big picture.

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Dream may be done with Hell, but Lucifer’s not done with him

The series also does a good job with the visuals.  I feel that the TV series isn’t as top tier as a major motion picture (or at least a lot of them), but that it feels comic book accurate while still having a high quality threshold.  If it keeps the budget down and allows the series to play out, I’m happy with the design and look of The Sandman.

The Sandman smacks with potential and could have a long life if it is allowed to play out.  I’ve waited years for this series and I wasn’t disappointed…now having binged it, I have to wait to see if it continues.  Fortunately (unlike a lot of series), I can easily return to The Sandman for season 2 easily since I am familiar with the story, but of course, the waiting is the hardest part.  Long live The Sandman!

The Sandman—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

sandman season 1 episode 1 sleep of the just imprisoned morpheus dream tom sturridge

“Sleep of the Just”

1.1       Sleep of the Just Release Date:  08/05/22

The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook) is on the run, and Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) must capture the wayward nightmare.  When Dream is pulled into a trap by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) who hoped to capture Death, a long standoff begins between Burgess as Dream waits for his moment to escape.

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“Imperfect Host”

1.2       Imperfect Hosts Release Date:  08/05/22

Freed from his imprisonment, Dream finds the Dreaming in ruin…and no longer possessing the power to fix it.  Going to Cain (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and Abel (Asim Chaudhry), Dream finds he must make a request that could break both of them.  The Corinthian realizes that Dream is coming for him and sets out to warn Ethel Dee (Joely Richardson) who is Dream’s next target.  Going to the Fates, Dream looks for answers about his stolen property.

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“Dream a Little Dream”

1.3       Dream a Little Dream of Me Release Date:  08/05/22

Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman) is a woman haunted by her past, and the arrival of Morpheus and his newly acquired raven Matthew (Patton Oswalt) could force her to face an old love (Eleanor Fanyinka).  Ethel realizes she must warn her son John Dee (David Thewlis) about the upcoming danger but arming a psychotic killer could have dire consequences.

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“A Hope in Hell”

1.4       A Hope in Hell Release Date:  08/05/22

Morpheus and Matthew travel to Hell in search of Dream’s stolen helm…but Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) has plans for Morpheus.  A woman named Rosemary (Sarah Niles) learns that giving a ride to a stranger might not be the smartest move when she picks up John Dee.

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1.5       24/7 Release Date:  08/05/22

John Dee has reclaimed his ruby and is intent on changing the world.  Entering a quiet diner in a small town, the people of the diner are about to learn that Dee’s views of the world does not match theirs.

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“The Sound of Her Wings”

1.6       The Sound of Her Wings Release Date:  08/05/22

Dream has reclaimed his sand, his helm, and his ruby, and now questions what to do with his life…and a well-timed visit from his sister Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) could be just what he needs.  Plus, Morpheus is out to reconnect with what he missed while trapped by Roderick, and a meeting with his “friend” Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley) is necessary.

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“The Doll’s House”

1.7       The Doll’s House Release Date:  08/05/22

Desire (Mason Alexander Park) has plots for their brother, and they are taking the form of a young woman named Rose Walker (Kyo Ra).  Rose is unknowingly a Vortex, and as a Vortex, things of the sleep realm are drawn to her.  Travelling to England with her friend Lyta Hall (Razane Jammal), Rose learns that she is the great granddaughter of Unity Kinkaid (Sandra James-Young), and Unity could be the key to locating her missing brother.

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“Playing House”

1.8       Playing House Release Date:  08/05/22

Working out of the rental home of Hal Carter (John Cameron Mitchell), Lyta and Rose search for Jed Walker (Eddie Karanja) but find roadblocks from the child services.  Morpheus and Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong) argue about Lucienne’s role in the Dreaming as Morpheus moves in on his escaped nightmare Gault (Ann Ogbomo).  Beaten by his foster parents, Jed is in danger…but the coming of the Corinthian could mean doom!

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1.9       Collectors Release Date:  08/05/22

Lyta is pregnant by her dead husband Hector (Lloyd Everitt) and Lucienne and Matthew realize that barriers between the waking world and the Dreaming are collapsing as Rose gains her power.  Rose learns that Jed is in Georgia and travels with Gilbert (Stephen Fry) to retrieve him…but Gilbert and Rose don’t know that the Cereal Convention isn’t about a breakfast food.

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“Lost Hearts”

1.10     Lost Hearts Release Date:  08/05/22

The showdown between Morpheus and the Corinthian has arrived, and the Corinthian’s powers are growing as he tries to take Rose under his wing.  Rose learns that her fate as the Vortex could doom the universe, but the discovery of the real source of the Vortex could lead Morpheus to a family showdown while Lucifer plots a revenge in Hell.

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“A Dream of a Thousand Cats”

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1.11     Dream of a Thousand Cats/Calliope Release Date:  08/19/22

Dream of a Thousand Cats—A gathering of cats learn the story of how cats became subservient to men and the dream of freedom.  Calliope—Richard Madoc (Arhur Darvill) faces writers block, but Erasmus Fry (Derek Jacobi) might have the cure from him in the form of an imprisoned Greek muse named Calliope (Melissanthi Mahut).

Related Links:

The Sandman:  Preludes & Nocturnes

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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