You know, there are a lot of Sandman issues that are basically one-offs, single issues that tell a complete story, and some of the Sandman trades are basically just those. So, putting two of those issues together into a “special” episode was rather cool. Considering the third volume is basically just those one-offs, if the Netflix version wants to open with “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in season two, they will get no complaints from me.
But as for these two stories, combined into one special episode, it was great. I can get behind stuff like this. The animated first part retelling “Dream of a Thousand Cats” is the sort of story that tells me why cats might hate humans and why humans might be wise to fear cats. Also, it is there to remind people this is a horror series since the final image is a cute kitten dreaming of playing catch with and then eating a mouse-sized human. Or of being a cat-sized human while the cats are human-sized. Eh, it doesn’t matter.
By the by, who is the best guest star for trivia for this animated segment? David and Georgia Tennant? David’s Good Omens costar Michael Sheen? Killing Eve‘s Sandra Oh? How about James McAvoy since he plays Dream on the audiobook versions of this series? Yeah, I like the last one best. That or Neil Gaiman himself as a skull-headed crow.
Also, Dream’s three guardians can talk here. I am curious to see if that will continue.
However, the structure to “Dream of a Thousand Cats” is pretty basic. An angry mother cat, upset her cruel owners drowned her less-than-purebred kittens (boo!), seeks justice and learns that humans literally dreamed the world into being as it is in such a way that it always was that way, and if a thousand cats can dream it back the other way, that will reverse the process. That said, the original story showed a lot of skepticism among the cats since it seems like a longshot to get a thousand cats to do anything all at once. Did that line get included and I missed it? And what does it say that the one true believer to hear the Prophet Cat’s story is a pampered kitten that has it pretty good?
Side note: at a certain point, despite this story, I realized how often Gaiman inserts cats into his fiction and realized he must be a cat person. That took…a very long time.
But then there’s “Calliope,” a story that gives more backstory to Morpheus by giving the audience a look at an ex-wife, the muse Calliope. Struggling writer Richard Madoc (another Doctor Who alum in the form of Arthur Darvill) is given his very own muse by famous author Erasmus Fry (Derek Jacobi). Said muse is a prisoner who can inspire good writing against her will.
Yeah, these are not good guys. While Madoc may come across as sympathetic at first glance, once he gets the muse, even as he tries to offer her gifts and a nice place to be a prisoner, he is still holding her prisoner.
He’s actually shown doing worse in the source material. Here, the bad stuff happens off-camera.
But never let it be said Morpheus won’t come if called. The rules forbid anyone but Madoc from freeing Calliope. Morpheus just has to find a way to do it.
Now, Madoc is a bad dude, but as I close out my Sandman write-ups, for now, allow me to note Fry is probably much worse and arguably gets away without any sort of divine or cosmic retribution, so that happened.
Still, Calliope walked away to freedom, and she couldn’t be happier.
Man, that was a good first season, and there will be more, probably starting with “Season of Mists” though I wonder if it will include the Dead Boy Detectives since they got to appear on HBO Max’s Doom Patrol series first and even earned their own spin-off…and that show has a very different tone for what The Sandman is trying to do. Oh well. I waited this long for something this good. I am sure when the next batch of episodes eventually comes out, I’ll be quite pleased.
In the meantime, hey I need something new for Fridays, and Mike Flanagan got a new horror mini-series out on Netflix. I generally like those.
Granted, The Midnight Club looks more kid-friendly, but I can deal with that.