The Sandman: Sleep of the Just   Books Included 
August 5, 2022 9:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

While attempting to apprehend a nightmare known as the Corinthian, Morpheus, also known as "Dream", is captured in an occult ritual by British aristocrat Roderick Burgess.

Now streaming on Netflix. This is the "books included" thread. Not sure if others may want to do a "first watch" or an all-season thread instead.
posted by gauche (53 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is this good? I badly want this to be good, but the trailers did not at all wow me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:17 AM on August 5


I haven't watched it yet. I'm in the same boat: skeptical that it could be adapted at all, and not at all sold on the trailers.
posted by gauche at 10:20 AM on August 5


Sepinwall calls it mixed, stating that it's extremely faithful to the books, and also stating that's kind of a problem.
posted by mediareport at 10:21 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the comic, so I'll probably stick to a show-only thread if one is made, but I just wanted to pop in and say that I'm 5 episodes deep so far and I am *really* enjoying this show. It's very impressively done. I can't speak on it's faithfulness to the source material, but it's definitely worth a watch.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:22 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


(I should note that Sepinwall's review specifies which arcs the first series covers, so is something of a spoiler for where it ends.)
posted by mediareport at 10:26 AM on August 5


I'm not enamored with the casting. I never saw Dream as a young pretty boy. In my head, he was more like early 90's era Stephen Rea or, for a more contemporary comp, UK character actor, James Swanton.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Dream is 100% young Robert Smith. :D That hair! (will be binging the show this weekend woooooo)
posted by curious nu at 10:51 AM on August 5 [6 favorites]


I thought it was great (with the exception of the unnecessary expository monologue at the very beginning.)

I'm surprised that anyone called it overly faithful to the books, because there were a number of changes, all of them improvements, in my opinion -- frankly, Preludes & Nocturnes is not the best material in the series, since it was still finding its feet and figuring out what it was. But in episode 1, the show:

- Introduces the Corinthian as a major villain much earlier and connects him to Dream's captivity
- Makes Alex Burgess a much more ambiguous character, with the result that the major theme that Dream's pride and vengefulness are serious problems is introduced immediately
- If I am right (this is a guess) that Ethel Cripp's son becomes John Dee/Doctor Destiny, it ties that whole plot in much more closely with the narrative

The visuals are lovely, the casting is great, and I'm looking forward to the rest.
posted by kyrademon at 11:35 AM on August 5 [18 favorites]


This was discussed previously and I commented there to the effect that I wanted this to be great but was underwhelmed by the trailer. I watched episode 1 on preview and have now finished 2&3 and... I dont know what was up with those trailers! They do the show no justice, it's great so far and, if you had doubts on adaptability and the strange, weak trailers, give it a go.
posted by deeker at 11:37 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


I don't know if I'll get to see this tonight and I can't quite wait to post because my inner 16-year-old is too excited.

I hope it's as colorful as I remember the comics being. They have a Goth reputation, as well they should, but their color is so lush inside.

A little bit in my feelings about Despair looking just like an ordinary fat girl who didn't comb her hair. The others are costumed extravagance and she's just a regular person, so the monstrosity is clearly just supposed to be her body. In the comics she was a grotesque troll; is this actress supposed to pass for a troll? Well, never mind; I'm not going to be doing an internet crusade about it. I just find it a little sad if that's all there is to her costume.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:40 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]


Makes Alex Burgess a much more ambiguous character, with the result that the major theme that Dream's pride and vengefulness are serious problems is introduced immediately

This. Book!Burgess has no son deceased at Gallipoli (or at least, never mentions such) and is much more a straight-up comic book villain who wants POWER.

As mentioned above, the book took a year or so to find its footing. A totally faithful adaptation would have a brief appearance by Batman and Green Lantern, and a couple of scenes where Dream and Constantine hang out with the Martian Manhunter. These... would be less than optimal, I feel.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:43 AM on August 5 [11 favorites]


Have you read Vile Bodies? has never worked for me as a pickup line, but I'm glad it's worked for someone out there.

This first episode feels like it's the best version of that story that they could do--because I've been rereading, I know that some of the issues I had with it are in the original. Even the voiceover, that awful voiceover describing exactly what we are watching, that feels like it's coming out of Neil's wordiness.

The good part about rereading Sandman in 2022 is that I can go to wikipedia and look up all those DC references in Preludes and Nocturnes that I didn't understand twenty years ago, the bad part is that I still don't care about them and I'm glad Netflix has to cut all that. The Corinthian showing up to provide some exposition and add momentum to the plot was a good move and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:23 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


Based on the first episode alone, I think this is probably as good of a TV adaptation as it would be possible to produce. None of the changes rankle this old-time comic fan at all...in fact, they're all pretty understandable in the context of a TV show, and I daresay they give the characters involved in his captivity quite a bit more nuance and texture than was possible in a 22-page comic. That may just be due to the fact that we don't have access to Dream's interior monologue to serve as a narrator they way we did in print.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:28 PM on August 5 [7 favorites]


I found the first episode very underwhelming. I expected I'd end up binging the whole season right away, but that didn't happen. The season preview includes a bunch of stuff that looks interesting, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:07 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I loved the original comic, but it's been 15 years since I read it. After seeing the first 4 episodes, I have to say I really like the show. Of course it's not completely faithful to the original, but I don't remember all the details from the books anymore, so I'm not bothered by it. It works on its own as a show, and that's good enough. And I love the young Robert Smith vibe and the visuals. (Although after clicking on that link @DirtyOldTown, I have to agree with your choice!)
posted by gakiko at 4:07 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I like how Dream doesn't move their arms when walking just like in the comic! Seriously, so far so good. It's hard not to binge watch this like I did with the original comic so long ago.. Is it just me that Dream in this show speaks like Steven Seagal?
posted by dogstoevski at 5:16 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Just finished episode one. There's a strange sort of flatness, or lack of dreaminess to it, by dint of it being live-action I think. But I agree that this is probably the best we could have hoped for in an adaptation, and I'm very glad that we're getting this instead of it having ever gotten turned into a movie franchise.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:41 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Just finished this episode. I ... can't tell if it's good-but-not-as-good-as-my-affection-for-the-comics or just ... fine. I'm not wowed and not compelled right now to binge into the night.

I thought Charles Dance was pretty good, Tom Sturridge a cipher, and Vivienne Acheampong perfectly cast.
posted by gauche at 6:37 PM on August 5


A little bit in my feelings about Despair looking just like an ordinary fat girl who didn't comb her hair. The others are costumed extravagance and she's just a regular person, so the monstrosity is clearly just supposed to be her body. In the comics she was a grotesque troll; is this actress supposed to pass for a troll?

I think Gaiman and the writing staff may have simply rethought how they wanted to present Despair as a live-action character. First of all, I think the ways in which we think about the feelings she represents have changed; Hence, Despair is no longer a self-lacerating troll attending to people's torment, but something a bit closer to how we think about the quiet desperation that we all experience in our lives. Making her into a kind of COVID-depression tulpa makes sense for 2022.

Secondly, I think they're also trying to get away from the perception of body-shaming and humiliation with the character. There may be actors who would feel comfortable with playing the character with the nudity and monster-tusks and all, but I think it may have been a conscious choice just so there wasn't a situation where one actor had to be nude 100% of the time they were on camera.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:30 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


Ultimately, it was an introductory episode to a series. Not good or bad, just heavy on exposition and somewhat mechanical as it was plot driven.

It didn't feel magical, for lack of better word. There were brief hints of that feeling, such as Dream sitting in his prison, his stony stares and slight movements.

The original series creator, Neil Gaiman, was heavily involved in the development and it shows. When adapting the comic to tv, the developers should have developed a new character or several or some new arc, perhaps the story as seen through Lucienne's eyes? Because the early story of how Dream came to be captured always struck me as somewhat ridiculous and mostly there to explain things to comic book readers. The character of Dream needs a bit of mystery to him, which is destroyed by laying everything out so methodically.

Overall, it was fine, just not super interesting. But I will stick with it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:06 PM on August 5


Charles Dance needs to get out of the habit of treating his youngest sons so badly; it never works out for him.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:49 PM on August 5 [38 favorites]


I’m up to “24/7 “ and think I’ll stop there for the night because I remember that part of the comic and think I’d rather that not be the last bit I see before sleep!

It’s been really solid so far, 15-year-old-me is pretty stoked, current-age-me is little askance at some of the choices around how representation is being done but will see how it goes.
posted by curious nu at 10:32 PM on August 5


I'm up to 24/7 also, and my thoughts are that it might not be exactly like the original but is better for it.

Although I do kinda wish that Lucifer was played by Tom Ellis.

I do like that there are more comic adaptations than the mainstream superhero stuff, and look forward to more Vertigo and Dark Horse shows.
posted by Marticus at 2:05 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


It’s a lovely adaptation (I’m also just at “24/7”). I could never have hoped for one this good and satisfying. There are many, many ways it could have gone wrong… and didn’t. Looking forward to the rest of the season.

As to “Sleep of the Just” specifically, I did have some worries after seeing early footage, and none of them were borne out. The changes to Alex and Ethel were interesting!
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:50 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Have you read Vile Bodies? has never worked for me as a pickup line, but I'm glad it's worked for someone out there.

I kind of took that as a coded inquiry as well - there are gay characters who don't necessarily get held up as evil, so I took it as a way for Paul to be subtly trying to ask if Alex was into dudes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:33 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


That introductory voiceover is appalling and reeks of an incompetent producer imposing his idiocy because he doesn’t trust that the audience will be patient enough to let the story unfold. Show, don’t tell.

But, otherwise, casting is delightful and it’s a reasonable start. Very relieved they’ve cut out all the DC superhero cruft.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:44 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


I'm generally mixed on voice-over narration, but I think it's useful here, and that it could be actively detrimental to the experience and show's longevity for audiences to be forced to do heavy lifting. I support storytelling modes all along that spectrum, but Sandman is a complicated, intricate story, and ditto the overall concept--a tell-and-show if ever there were one. This TV series is clearly designed to be more broadly appealing than the horror-fantasy extravaganza that was Preludes & Nocturnes, which Gaiman has said he more or less expected to be the full extent of the title. The first comics arc is classic Vertigo (DC comics imprint) stuff, with comics nerd nods in every direction. This series, by contrast, has had many, many of the hard, rough edges filed off.

Gaiman has been at frequent pains to tell both old and new fans "this TV series is for you," and I think that inevitably necessitates some amount of hand-holding. I would rather see this mode for five seasons/ten arcs than a dense, unforgiving thing that only longtime fans can easily parse, and which Netflix cancels after one season. (That still might happen, but it won't be because they aren't trying hard to grow a broad, diverse audience.)
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:47 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Yeah - this is now the third filmed adaptation of Neil's work that I've seen; the first one he did not have that much creative control (American Gods) and that didn't fare so well (they threw a bunch of extra foobaz in during the second season and even more in the third and the ratings suffered and it got cancelled before they finished the story), and during the second one he did (GOOD OMENS, which did so well they figured out how to do a sequel based on some notes Neil and Sir Terry made but never got to write).

Things just go better when Neil has more creative control because he has a good sense of that tightrope between "this is the stuff that will please the longtime fans" and "this would be baffling to total newbies". So far I haven't been blown away, but my bar was actually just "please don't suck" and it hasn't sucked so - so far, so good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:07 AM on August 6 [11 favorites]


The Corinthian as always weak-ass TV serial killer kind of character that I’m ashamed to see him as a major villain here. It’s 2022, try to keep up.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:43 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I like Lucienne, though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:49 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


(I’ve read all the books, and only watched Ep 1 but…) It’s not going to be identical to the comics and that’s okay. I thought all the changes made for the screenplay were sensible and kept the essence of the story. Glad Gaiman is involved. This is a great intro for people that have not read the original. Looking forward to the rest, expecting significant changes in tone for the rest of the series, as evidenced by the “Next on Sandman…” post trailer. I’d say it’s pretty damn good so far. We’ll see how the rest goes.

Also, pls include all the Patton Oswald and Kirby Howell-Baptiste that can fit on screen.
posted by gnutron at 5:27 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


If this is what they do with the comic's weakest material... I am very much looking forward to more.

I most noticed that there's barely a sour note anywhere in the casting, even in minor roles. (There was one small "holy freakin' crap!" voice-acting role capital-M Moment in the final episode; I won't spoil it here.) In this episode, all three Alex Burgesses were standouts, and I enjoyed the heck out of Ethel Cripps.

And Vivienne Acheampong. Just. Oh gosh. I am a librarian, you know? And I adored her. The only time Dream non-ironically smiles in practically the entire show, and of course he's smiling at her. Of course he is.

(I have some annoyance about the design of the Library, despite the very cool angle change as Jessamy flies through it, but... okay, I guess it fits here as well as anywhere. COULD THERE ALSO BE SOME MODERNLY-DESIGNED BOOKS PLEASE. And how about some non-books? Open-reel tapes? U-Matic? Film cans? DVDs? Freakin' floppy diskettes and game cartridges? I'm just endlessly, so to speak, weary of the all-libraries-contain-nothing-but-ancient-leatherbound-tomes trope. Ugh, stop me, I feel a fix-it fic coming on.)
posted by humbug at 7:35 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]


COULD THERE ALSO BE SOME MODERNLY-DESIGNED BOOKS PLEASE. And how about some non-books?

The patron of the library had been out of touch for a hundred years at that point. I'd expect he'd maybe endowed a tiny section of wax cylinders before he left.
posted by Etrigan at 8:19 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


Then where my tintypes and daguerrotypes and all those other -types at? And magic lanterns. All the magic lanterns. Can't convince me that Morpheus and Lucienne didn't absolutely love magic lanterns.

I was slightly mollified about this by a prop in the last episode. But only slightly, because this trope does real damage to present-day librarianship and I wish Mr. Gaiman, notable supporter of libraries that he is, had considered that in set and prop design as brilliantly as he did in casting.

But if we're lucky, there will be more Sandman, and the Library can be updated, because you have a definite and reasonable point about Dream's imprisonment's impact on it. (Also I am chuckling at imagining the one book I have an authorship credit on in Lucienne's library. It would both fit and not fit -- and I loathe the way it would fit because I loathe that damn cover design and always have.)

I appreciate two things about Dream in this episode: he really tried to fix The Dreaming before resorting to poor Gregory, and his face expressed grief over it, even if only to Gregory itself. (Stiffnecked sod couldn't be arsed to console Cain and Abel, natch.) Because Gregory reads as very catlike to me, the way it scrabbles around on roofs and knocks its toys around, and if somebody had to kill one of my cats for his own benefit I would be Cain-style murderous.
posted by humbug at 8:46 AM on August 7


Mod note: Hey guys, don't discuss future episodes in this episode!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:10 AM on August 7 [9 favorites]


The opening five minutes were probably the worst written of the lot - very clunky narration and then straight into very clunky dialogue - but it mostly picked up there, albeit slow as molasses. Which is fine for me, but I can imagine it'll lose a lot of people.

It's also, perhaps, not representative of the tone of the rest of the show.
posted by Merus at 9:28 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I'm 2 episodes in, annoyed by how dark everything is but that's my cheap monitor, it fits the book/show. Might try it on a different screen. Pretty sure I need a fanfic just about Vivienne Acheampong's amazing outfit.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:38 AM on August 8


with the exception of the unnecessary expository monologue at the very beginning
Even the voiceover, that awful voiceover describing exactly what we are watching, that feels like it's coming out of Neil's wordiness
That introductory voiceover is appalling and reeks of an incompetent producer imposing his idiocy because he doesn’t trust that the audience will be patient enough to let the story unfold
The opening five minutes were probably the worst written of the lot - very clunky narration and then straight into very clunky dialogue

....well it's reassuring I'm not the only one! Almost didn't make it through the opening sequence; not only was it classic tell-don't-show, the setup it was describing sounds so boooooooooring.

I hung in there because I was second-guessing myself, maybe I'm just too familiar with the story and this is actually necessary information... but having thought about, nah. nope. It's misleading, even: makes it sound like the series is going to be a monster-hunter kind of deal, where we hunt down escaped nightmares one by one.

And instead of announcing "I am the KING of DREAMS, and I am in charge of DREAMS and also NIGHTMARES" to the new viewer (who has rigorously avoided spoilers by not reading the netflix blurb or, well, the title...) Lucienne's going to hint at it literally three lines of dialog in, for starters ("As powerful as you are here in your realm, Dreams rarely survive in the waking world"), but set all that aside; wouldn't it have been a lot more interesting for newcomers to the story to learn Dream's identity the same way Burgess does?

(I had to check the original; not sure if we're doing book spoilers here but it handles that whole situation differently enough to not really be comparable)

Anyway eventually I got over mentally redacting most of the V/O and some of the regular dialogue, and things seemed to pick up. Love the casting, love Lucienne, it all looks just right so far, and most of the changes to the plot and story feel like good choices for the medium.
posted by ook at 2:36 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I haven’t read the books, and maybe I’m just not a good fit for Gaiman’s sensibility, but that first episode felt like a long hour of television. Does the pacing pick up in later episodes? Is there any evidence of humour?
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:29 PM on August 9


Sandman has its moments of humor but if you're looking for humor like in for instance Good Omens you're not going to find it.
posted by Wretch729 at 3:41 PM on August 9


I can't figure out how to phrase this without getting spoilery but taking yourself too seriously is kind of the whole point.
posted by Wretch729 at 3:52 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Hmm, ok thanks.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:18 PM on August 10


Dream needs bigger hair. He looks oddly puffy to me, but I think it might be bad makeup flattening his face?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:04 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Maybe there will be an explanation in future episodes, but the story of Dream's imprisonment made no sense to me at all. There's a global epidemic of sleep-related sickness? Out of control nightmares cause WWI? And nobody but the narrator mentions it?

Ruthven Sykes's own child is a victim, but he doesn't question whether this uncanny being they summoned the night before might have something to do with it? And all this goes on for decades? The Magus dies without ever seeming to notice what he's done? Am I supposed care about the global stakes here or just the characters with speaking parts?
posted by straight at 10:11 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Straight: I think you're a little muddled here, lemme address point-by-point.

There's a global epidemic of sleep-related sickness? Out of control nightmares cause WWI? And nobody but the narrator mentions it?

Not quite.

The "out of control nightmares" didn't cause WWI. It's the other way around. World War I was already happening - Sykes and The Magus' own grown children had already fought in it, and been killed. It was The Magus grieving about that which led him to try to summon and imprison Death - they were going to ask Death to give them their sons back. (That's why Sykes had such a funny look on his face when The Magus said he only had one son - he actually had two, he just didn't think much about the younger kid and only wanted the older son back.) He just screwed up and caught Dream instead, and that's what touched off the global epidemic of sleep-related sickness. Which was real, by the way - there was an epidemic of a kind of encephalitis in about 1918; it's what the people in the movie Awakenings had been suffering from.

Ruthven Sykes's own child is a victim, but he doesn't question whether this uncanny being they summoned the night before might have something to do with it?

No, Sykes' child was already killed in action in World War I, before this happened.

And all this goes on for decades? The Magus dies without ever seeming to notice what he's done?

Encephalitis lethargica did indeed go on for decades. Some of the people affected never "woke up". And The Magus was just monomaniacally focused on trying to get Dream to help him in some way. Plus he was an asshole.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on August 13 [8 favorites]


Wow this was fantastic. Really loved everything about this episode. They nailed the tone and writing just right. It strikes me this show stands in relationship to the MCU movies exactly like The Sandman comic did to ordinary superhero comics. Which is perfect.

I had my doubts about Sturridge but it worked for me. Poor man had a tough job here; he spends most of the episode gloweringly silently from a fishbowl. But also naked. And as shallow as it sounds the young man sure does look good without any clothes on. (A little too good; did he starve himself for the role? CG enhancement to make him sinewy and otherworldly?)

Did anyone else get the vibe that Paul broke the binding circle with the wheelchair on purpose? We see Paul years before arguing to free Morpheus, and now that Alex is done with him Paul breaks the circle and then glances meaningfully at Dream (with the camera lingering). For that matter Paul is almost entirely a new character for the TV show; in the book he's only mentioned in two panels, "He sees the Order of Ancient Mysteries as an efficient method of parting the credulous from their cash." He does call Alex "love" in the wheelchair scene though, so I guess the relationship was coded there all along. Anyway a nice change in the writing and I like the idea Dream's escape wasn't entirely an accident. (Not the only change; the manner of escaping the fishbowl is different too.)
posted by Nelson at 8:10 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Tom Sturridge's Transformation for 'The Sandman' Wasn't All Physical
it required discipline and working out and not eating that much. But actually, acting is such an ephemeral job. We’re constantly trying to catch clouds when we go to work. To work out is really easy. Because you just do the six things they tell you to do, and it happens.
Yeah buddy, talk to me when you're 50. Still he looked amazing. "It’s someone whose flesh is burnt away, and is just sinew and bone."
posted by Nelson at 10:47 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


> Did anyone else get the vibe that Paul broke the binding circle with the wheelchair on purpose?

Yes, absolutely.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:40 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Did anyone else get the vibe that Paul broke the binding circle with the wheelchair on purpose?

Yup, I'll second that. That little backwards glance from Paul. I get the sense that to Paul, anything had to be better than the stalemate Alex was stuck in. I don't think Paul was right about that, but... I certainly don't blame him.

Poor Jessamy, though. If she'd thought to scratch out the circle instead of hammering at the glass...
posted by humbug at 2:38 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Agree with all the complaints about telling not showing at the top of the show. Otherwise, pretty fun so far. Just show us Roderick trying to summon Death then this mysterious being with a wild mask shows up, people start falling asleep...

Someone in the head office didn't trust the audience. But even little kids could follow a more mysterious opening that unfolds the story gradually rather than dropping it all in our laps.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:06 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Paul was more of a character in the comics too, it's just that we didn't get most of his development until The Kindly Ones. I liked that they brought it forward and made it more of a thing earlier on.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:23 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit late to the party but I watched EP1 last night and it was just OK. The whole thing felt like a BBC series out of the 80s or 90s - which I guess they have their reasons for but it didn't do anything for me. Hoping that it picks up as the season goes on. Underwhelmed, if that's a word.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:19 PM on September 2


I thought it was very well done (finally getting around to starting it today). God knows Dream isn't exactly a sparkling personality, especially as a prisoner.

Poor Jessamy. "I've been trying to kill that bird for ten years!"

The Corinthian being used as a villain was a good move.

GodDAMN the guy looks frail and thin, even at the start of imprisonment. Makes me feel sorry for the actor.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:50 PM on September 5


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