Before I head out to work in the mornings, I usually do a quick search of news aggrigate sites to see if anything interesting has popped up while I slept. And It’s really hard to describe the range of emotions that went though my half-awake mind when I read this.
Yes. You read that right. Sandman is finally getting a mass media adaptation. On television.
Let me be clear on one thing, my respect and near worship of Neil Gaiman knows almost no bounds. There is no doubt in my mind that hundreds of years from now, Gaiman and his works will be discussed and held in the same universal high regard as Shakespeare, Homer, Chaucer, ect. The man has such an astounding gift for writing and creating that it makes me pause in attempts to write fiction becaue I know that nothing I can do will ever be a fraction as good. Sandman is a triumph for the comics medium, proof that you can have a comic book that is both highly relevant to the literary world as well as comercially successful. Millions of fans like me have been waiting a long time for an anouncement like this.
Waiting for it and dreading it.
We want to see Sandman given it’s just due. We want to see it brought to a larger audience. But at the same time, we know that an adaptation could never be and will never be as good as the source material. The only question of an adaptation is: how bad is it going to be? Call it Schrodinger’s Adaptation: you know that there’s something inside the box, but you don’t know how good or bad it will be until the box is opened.
We’ve always known that a TV adaptation was a possibility; and to be honest, TV is probably the better way to do Sandman than a movie series. Given the quality of it’s programing, cable was the best of all options, considering the willingness of cable networks to fully invest in a risky show and consitantly turn out the best programming over the past decade. I think that I can safely speak for all Gaiman fans that on the list for networks to end up with Sandman, the CW ranked dead last, at the very bottom with Univision and Telemundo tied for next to last (edit: only for the fact that it’s be hard for non-Spanish speakers to keep up with without sub-titles. The overly melodramatic telenovela storytelling would be pretty awesome for the infighting among the Endless).
This is all wrong. This is Paris Hilton starring in a remake of ‘Wizard of Oz’ wrong. This is ‘BET Presents Othello’ wrong. The programming culture at CW is the very antithesis of the quality and majesty of Sandman. Moreover, the average CW veiwer, most Smallville fans notwithstanding, will require the stories to be dumbed down to such a degree that it would be like Tolstoy re-written for kindergarteners.
Do I hope this series will be good? Of course I do. There are the seeds of greatness here in that Eric Kripke has shown that he understands and appreciates Gaiman’s works in his own show Supernatural. I’m sure that the casting of the Endless will casue the internet forums to blaze with the light of a thousand supernovae, which will be entertaining in it’s own right to watch. Where the hope breaks down is at the corporate level. For Sandman to succeed, those in power need to take risks, allow the narritive to take it’s course realtively intact, and give the show time to establish it’s footing. In other words: the network execs at CW need to do the exact opposite of what network execs from non-cable networks do.
It has happened before. Sandman itself was a huge risk for DC. It broke all the rules for the culture at DC for the time. For a major player like DC to invest the time and money to see something so radical and experimental as Sandman through to the end speaks volumes of the faith the was placed in Gaiman’s skills as a storyteller. Hopefully, the CW’s execs will follow the example set and let Sandman be what it is.
We hope and we dream of better things. And somewhere, Morpheus is smiling on us