I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m very, very worried about the prospect of The Sandman being turned into a television series. No, that’s not exactly right: What I’m worried about are the latest rumors about The Sandman being turned into a television series.
Here’re the connections that I’m making that lead me to the worry: Sandman is, apparently, being developed as a television series, with Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke as showrunner. Eric Kripke has a relationship with the CW. DC Comics has a relationship with the CW. The CW is looking for a new series from their relationship with DC to replace Smallville. Do you see where I’m going with this…?
Yes, it requires certain leaps of logic. But none of them are impossible leaps to make; for those who think that it’d be impossible to get from the hallowed pages of The Sandman to a CW series designed to fit into the network’s Friday night schedule, I’d like to remind you:
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Supernatural is a bad show, or that Kripke couldn’t come up with a good version that’s relatively true to Neil Gaiman’s original (I think there are elements of Supernatural, from what little I’ve seen, that owe some things to Sandman, but I could be wrong). This is purely about the massive potential for disaster that awaits Sandman as it heads into television, and my own cynicism. Is there a network – other than, say, HBO, Showtime or AMC – who’d be okay with the title character being an aloof bystander in as many stories as he is in the comic? Or with the constant shifts in cast and tone throughout the entire series? I worry that a television version of the comic would try to please both the more generic demands of a television network as well as the comic’s fanbase, and end up with something that fulfills neither, a weird mix of The Vampire Diaries and The Sandman Presents spin-offs that tried and failed to repeat the magic of Gaiman’s voice, with Chase Crawford as Morpheus and Jessica Lowndes as Death, and the Dreaming refit as a psychic hangout where bands play their latest singles every week, in between monologues about human frailties.
The Sandman would – will? – make a much better television series than it would a movie, I agree, and if we have to see an adaptation, then a television show might be the best way to go. It’s just… Do we really have to have an adaptation? Can’t we just have accept that it’s a great comic and move on, already?