Adapting for Fans vs. Broad Audience
IGN’s review noted that the series may be more accessible to Sandman comics fans than newbies, and that was their only reason for giving it 9/10 instead of 10/10. I could see that. In my very small sample of personal acquaintances, the newbies have generally said, “I liked it pretty well” and the comics fans have generally said, “This was great!” It may be an adaption made primarily for fans, and that’s interesting because it seems the less common choice today.
Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, if a new show/movie is in a sprawling franchise (ex. MCU, Star Wars), it seems increasingly made for fans with an assumption that you know all the backstory. But if something is being adapted new from one medium to another (ex. forthcoming Interview with the Vampire), the goal usually seems to be to aim at viewers who are not die-hard fans. That makes business sense because non-fans will almost always be the bigger audience. So it’s a bit brave of this series to do a close adaption that doesn’t work too hard to be accessible to new viewers. I think that choice made a better work of art (though sometimes far-afield adaptations are great works of art: ex. Blade Runner). Anyway, I give it points for not being afraid to make the entry curve a little steeper in the name of preserving much of the complexity of the comics.
Reflection on Dream in the Show and in General
I really liked the adaptation’s version of Dream. He’s a less dark and easier to relate to than the comics version, but honestly more likable for that, which was probably the point. Not to harp on Blade Runner, but the difference in tone reminds me of the difference between Do Androids Dream and its film adaptation. In both cases, the original text is more philosophically challenging in ways I deeply respect, but that challenge comes at the expense of some human relatability, which the screen adaptation provides. And on balance, I emotionally prefer being able to relate more easily. Or for another analogy, comics Dream and Netflix Dream remind me of the tonal difference between manga Wolfwood and anime Wolfwood in Trigun. In both cases, the text version is more complex, but the screen version is more likable, which is sometimes a relief. These differences in The Sandman are pretty subtle, though, and on the whole, this is thankfully a very close adaptation of comics Dream.
Possible light spoilers follow, no big plot points( Read more… )