Nothing informs me. I’m in for a week of tiresome emails, such as the one asking me to review a high-budget fantasy series for this entertaining TV column. So it is with a heavy heart that I declare that I have watched The Sandman, the Netflix x Warner x DC crossover event of the summer (it is currently accessible on Netflix). Sir, do you feel it? a commotion in the email world. No way is it true! I’m getting yelled at by thousands of folks who still own DVD collections regarding lore!

However, you can stop advising me on which Reddit subreddits to follow or which occult maps to check out of the library because I truly enjoy this one. I have a tumultuous past with fantasy television. A couple of years ago, there was a ton of it, almost all of it poor, because the producers disregarded the two main principles for fantasy that I invented without bothering to tell anyone. These guidelines state that good fantasy should pose the query. What if that actually did happen? That would certainly be strange. then lay out some uncomfortable guidelines to control that oddity. The end. You can weave fascinating human tales over that canvas when it is stretched taut. What if a catastrophe claimed every man on Earth? What if a supernatural cabal genuinely held power, but they eventually had nosebleeds and passed away? What if a book had the power to foretell the future? A tale can be stretched out for exactly as long as the studio is willing to fund it, or it can be created around a character who is essentially on a road trip in search of a mythical golden object that will solve all of life’s problems. Sadly, the former is much less common than the latter, and as a result, our culture is less rich. I’m not, however, here to criticize Westworld season 4 once more.

Though The Sandman is good, perhaps very good, and verging on very, very good, we should discuss it. It helps that there is a wealth of source material to draw from, including a 75-volume comic book series and an 11-hour audio version. All of these works are by Neil Gaiman, who is skilled at writing gothic tales and has prudently avoided adaptation thus far. Dream, an eternal being older than the gods, is introduced to us and is imprisoned by Charles Dance for a century. During that time, his sleeping realm disintegrates and begins to have an impact on the waking world. Jenna Coleman is dancing cockily and jumping around. Stephen Fry portrays Stephen Fry admirably. There is a talking raven. Playing the Corinthian, a demonic nightmare with teeth in place of eyes, is something Boyd Holbrook is clearly enjoying himself immensely. It is clear that Gwendoline Christie is excellent! Hell’s lord and ruler, Lucifer. Dreams of his many siblings, Death, Desire, and Despair, are circling him like little gears. There is just no other way to put it than David Thewlis is really Thewlissing.

But The Sandman stands out thanks to two crucial choices. The casting is superb, as you can obviously see from the description above. However, there’s a fantastic balance between those somber, spit-when-they-talk actors and light-handed British comedians who balance some of the themes that are more stern (Asim Chaudhry and Sanjeev Bhaskar, as Cain and Abel, are excellent against Dreams Tom Sturridge who is very good and doomed to inspire the sartorial decisions of an entire generation of goths but playing the whole thing very seriously). This is also beneficial because many of the scenes are simply computer renderings chatting to one another. On a soundstage, you really couldn’t portray gates that reach the heights of heaven and lead to a land of dreams, can you? And actors who have that lighthearted quality prevent it from feeling overly soulless. You never think, “I’m seeing someone talk to a tennis ball,” at any moment.

Second, even if there is a good deal of I must travel into hell and ask about my helm trinket-getting, it’s not the only thing going on, and my two favorite episodes were stand-alone tales set in a more developed gods-and-monsters universe. These two episodes—one set in a diner and the other in the same pub at 100-year intervals—really demonstrate what can be done with a single plot, a single character, and an hour of inventiveness. As a result, the entire series has a more anthology-like feel than an endless tale in which magic happens when someone makes a lot of hand gestures. I am aware of your past injuries. I can verify it with all the emails. However, this contemporary fantasy series is well worth your time.

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