The Sandman: Dream of a Thousand Cats/Calliope   Books Included 
August 19, 2022 9:19 AM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

A cat is inspired to dream. An author dreams of inspiration.

Adapted from issues 18 ("Dream of a Thousand Cats") and 17 ("Calliope"), published as part of Dream Country, a collection of four one-shot stories.
posted by Etrigan (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was not a particular fan of the Netflix series overall (although I haven't finished it, to be honest), although the comic means a lot to me and I just reread it. But I was willing to give this a chance when I heard about it today.

And yes, this is The Sandman show I wanted. I love the choice to bring Hisko Hulsing to direct "A Dream of a Thousand Cats." I love that it's animated in his style! I know it's a beloved story but it's never been a huge favorite of mine, but the choice to do this in animation rather than live-action (or a blend of CG/live-action) is perfect for the fairy tale nature of the story. I also think the actors they got for the voices are a lot of fun.

I like that "Calliope" doesn't shy away from the darker parts of the story but we don't have to see them to know they happened. Well, except with Ric's bloody fingers, which I'm glad they kept.

Arthur Darvill's Ric finds the right balance between being likable and being a creep and Melissanthi Mahut brings an understated sadness and rage to Calliope. I also appreciate that the adaptation gave her a bit more agency -- she still couldn't escape her situation on her own, but she wasn't just waiting to be saved (that was my big complaint rereading the issue this time).

It was also just a good-looking episode. I liked the widescreen format and it didn't feel so Netflix-y as the rest of the series has felt to me.

The short stories tend to be some of the stronger issues of The Sandman but I feel like this was the show they wanted to make but weren't allowed to. Maybe. If the series continues to be this (if it continues), I am going to rethink my earlier opinion of it.
posted by edencosmic at 10:55 AM on August 19 [7 favorites]


August 2020? I knew August 2020, Senator, and you're no August 2020
posted by Grangousier at 2:55 PM on August 19 [12 favorites]


Me to one of my cats just now: "You sleepy? You dreaming of me being real tiny so you could toss me around and chomp me? Hmm?"

Cat, gravely: "I chomp you last."

Impressed with the animators' knowledge of feline communication. Tails correct, slow blink correct.
posted by humbug at 3:23 PM on August 19 [16 favorites]


I'm going to have to resubscribe to Netflix and watch this. I could pass on the main series, which looks kinda...boring to me, I'm sorry, but these are the first Sandman issues I ever read, and imo they are two of the best stories of the series.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:06 PM on August 19


Does this work as a stand alone?
I'm trying to persuade my daughters to give Sandman a try and, if it works without knowledge of the rest of the series and the books, this would be an ideal introduction.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:09 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


Impressed with the animators' knowledge of feline communication. Tails correct, slow blink correct.

Not to mention that little bit where the kitten fumbled jumping off the gravestone, landed a little wrong, then stood up and did the little "blelelelele" head shake--perfection.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:11 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


I particularly enjoyed Richard "Ric" Maddox trying to present himself as a Deeply Committed Feminist to cover up for literally enslaving and profiting off a woman. Who did he mention amongst his most influential authors? Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, at least one other big name woman author that I can't remember. I found that (and his demand that half the cast/crew of his upcoming film be women and people of color) to be the most cutting social commentary in the series.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:53 PM on August 19 [22 favorites]


Especially with Dan Price in the news today. Yeeeeeeeeeesh.

I have to say, Morpheus didn't actually scare me at any point in the entire series until his confrontation with Ric. "Be quiet" -- barely above a murmur, but I cringed.

thatwhichfalls, I think "Dream of 1000 Cats" is as standalone as it gets. "Calliope" somewhat less so, as there's no introduction to the Three and the significance of the newspaper headline may not be clear.
posted by humbug at 6:53 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


The Rowling name-drop in with all Ric's liberal hypocrisy seemed pretty pointed.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:10 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


I really liked both pieces of this. My cat was -enthralled- by the animated cats. She watched the whole thing with her full alert attention and even approached the screen to investigate.

In Calliope, the restraint, in such clear opposition to, say, Game of Thrones, was really refreshing. It was plenty dark and served the story without trying to “profit” from the abuse.
posted by janell at 8:27 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


> "My cat was -enthralled- by the animated cats."

Only 999 to go!
posted by kyrademon at 2:36 AM on August 20 [23 favorites]


I was very disappointed with how bland and unimaginative the first 10 episodes looked. And then this special episode dropped, and it was everything I wanted The Sandman to be.

'Calliope' is a strong episode: good acting, beautiful colours, and a dark, weird atmosphere. I loved the Magritte-style surrealism of the bedroom furniture remaining in ancient Greece when Calliope summoned the Three. I hope they bring episode director Louise Hooper back for season 2, if there is one.

But 'A Dream of a Thousand Cats'... I almost cried at how good it was.

The oil painting look! The body language of the cats! The graveyard! The desert of bones, and the dead crow!

Variety have a good article about the making of this bonus episode, including how Gaiman nearly blew the secret several times.
posted by davidwitteveen at 2:54 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


A Dream of a Thousand Cats was one of my favorite of the comic books and still one of my favorite stories ever. The TV version captured it perfectly. I watched it with my partner who knows nothing about Sandman and didn't watch the other 10 episodes. Worked really well, it's an engaging fantasy story. We both howled in anguish at the injustice of the kittens being thrown in the river. He liked the oddness of the cats converging and meeting. Which led perfectly to the joke one of the cats makes about the impossibility of getting a group of cats to all agree on anything. And he was appropriately creeped out at the closing scene of the kitten being so cute hunting "something". Adorable little murder fluffball.

One choice they made; no animation of the mouths of the cats while talking. Good choice IMHO. Trying to do that leads to something cartoonish or even worse, looking like That Movie. It would have wrecked the realistic but painterly depiction of the cats. It was a little distracting though.

The only thing I'd change a bit is a slightly longer beat on the line about "The Game of Cat and Man". That panel is the fulcrum of the comic book, not to mention a terrific illustration. It's done well in the show but they slid past it faster than I was hoping.
posted by Nelson at 7:45 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


when I started this last night I was not thrilled to see it was animated, I'm just not that into animated stuff. but yeah, I was completely entranced, they did such a great job depicting cat body language and behavior. I wasn't sure I would be able to hang with the dead kittens stuff, but I like the resolution, a bloody wish for future power. I'm ok with my cats eating me if they get to be big.
posted by supermedusa at 9:32 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to persuade my daughters to give Sandman a try and, if it works without knowledge of the rest of the series and the books, this would be an ideal introduction.

If you start here, there's a good chance they'll always describe The Sandman as the dead kittens and rape show.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:50 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I think the rape is handled well but the kitten death did not need to be shown, and it made me think about turning the episode off. (I can handle sci fi violence, dragons killing people, etc, but mundane realistic cruelty is too hard to watch.)

My cat also watched the episode, and she rarely watches TV -- she prefers to watch us watching TV. Only 998 cats left to go!
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:53 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


People are already posting pictures of their cats watching the episode.
We're doomed.
posted by cheshyre at 11:48 AM on August 20 [11 favorites]


We will have always been doomed.
posted by Etrigan at 5:54 PM on August 20 [15 favorites]


I was more outraged by the on-screen kitten murder than in the comics. Perhaps because it was both updated to our time, or because the couple obviously have lots of money and live in a nice neighborhood. I was like, "Dude, there's probably a shelter 5 minutes away that will take the cats. You're just being a dick."
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:52 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I had no idea about the special episode! I binge-watched the first 10 episodes as soon as they were available, and told myself that was it until S2. But I was fumbling around the Netflix website yesterday and clicked one too many times on "My List" and there it was - the 11th episode! I was so so so happy! And this special episode was just perfect.
posted by gakiko at 10:42 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


This episode was nice! I feel like it was probably kind of a representative example of the When The Comic Gets Good part of the comic, which the first season of the show was otherwise unable to adapt (since it’s an adaptation of the early issues of the comic, which are themselves merely pretty good)
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:13 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


If I had to choose the best episode of the first season, I'd be hard pressed to decide between "The Sound of Her Wings" and this episode.

Seeing the announcement that they'd dropped a bonus episode with "Dream of a 1,000 Cats" was like waking up and finding it was unexpectedly Christmas with a whole pile of goodies.

I wouldn't be mad if they did entire seasons in the same style of animation. It was perfect.

My fam were giving me big evil looks when the kittens were thrown in the lake. Maybe they could/should have softened that, but I'd not be surprised to learn people still do that and it also balances the game of Cat and Man.

Anyway - I had high hopes about seeing this story adapted to the screen to share with my fam and the surprise drop coupled with the actual episode actually exceeded them wildly. If we don't get a season two, at least we got a good look at the heart of the stories that I've loved for decades that I could share with other folks who've been resistant to actually reading the comics.

Also really enjoyed "Calliope" -- and appreciate that they didn't do any graphic depictions. Melissanthi Mahut was perfect, I hope to be seeing her a lot more.

And it emphasized the personal growth that Morpheus has gone through in this time. Forgiveness, restraint, concern about others -- that's not who we started the season with, and makes him much more interesting and compelling going forward.
posted by jzb at 7:59 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


I loved that Calliope was actually Greek.

Also that she just momentarily cringed when the Hecate mentioned her son's death...which they were involved in.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:03 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]




Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, at least one other big name woman author that I can't remember. I found that (and his demand that half the cast/crew of his upcoming film be women and people of color) to be the most cutting social commentary in the series.

Shirley Jackson, and yes, I HOWLED at that line, also the "I like to consider myself a feminist writer" as he was literally profiting off the rape of a woman. That knife stuck deep. It's been a while since I read the comic - is that kind of stuff included, or is it a post-MeToo update?
posted by corb at 7:40 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]


In the comic Ric does say he regards himself as a feminist writer (which would have hit a bit different in 1990). But they definitely lay it on thicker in the show, to great effect.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 1:18 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


I wonder if it'd be cheaper for Netflix to do a season or three as the animated style from "Dream of 1,000 Cats"? I'd be equally happy with that, honestly.

Pity that this didn't come out when I was younger with more free time. In my 20s or 30s I'd probably have not only finished it, but re-watched it a few times. (/me considers just setting it to auto-play in another room while I'm working...)
posted by jzb at 9:33 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I particularly enjoyed Richard "Ric" Maddox trying to present himself as a Deeply Committed Feminist to cover up for literally enslaving and profiting off a woman.

Same. That was such a true-to-life, infuriating detail. I also thought it was a nice bit of casting, playing on the "boy next door" associations of Rory Williams.
posted by Emily's Fist at 5:30 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


My cat was -enthralled- by the animated cats. She watched the whole thing with her full alert attention and even approached the screen to investigate.

My cat too! It was so weird because she's never shown any interest in the TV before, or videos on my phone, or the mirror. But she was riveted for this.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:21 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to persuade my daughters to give Sandman a try

Well, we watched it and they were impressed enough to want to check out the rest of the season. (And apparently we need to watch 2001 together which suprises me)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:06 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Arthur Darvill was amazing in the role as Ric. That having been said, part of me wished they had cast Chris Geere. (Fans of You're The Worst will know why.)
posted by rednikki at 3:46 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


If you want to introduce someone to the series, I'd go with the Death/Hob Gadling episode, for sure. That's what got me into the books, anyway. This one is kind of obscure since Dream doesn't come in until around the end-ish of both stories, and also the aforementioned "dead kittens and rape" mention.

Yeah, clearly that guy was drowning the kittens JUST TO BE A DICK, and also it's more awful that they're dead and she knows it instead of just being stolen away.

Calliope has always been a horror story, but they at least portrayed it as less of one. I would have found it hard watching if it was as explicit as the comic was. And it's nice to see Dream mellow out on at least one of his exes.

Clearly the "women and people of color, I read women authors" stuff was thrown in for 2022 for hypocrisy. Whee.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:50 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


The acting by Calliope was easily the best in the entire series, and given Death's performance, that's saying a lot.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:28 AM on October 7


Season 2 is a go.
posted by Etrigan at 4:42 PM on November 2 [9 favorites]


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