Netflix has scored a much-needed hit with a project that many thought was going to be unfilmable. Or at least that was the prevailing opinion of the last 35 years or so, including from its creator, Neil Gaiman.
But Gaiman was eventually convinced it could be done with the freedom and budget and runtime of prestige TV, which is why he came on to help make this Netflix series at last, and it appears like it’s going to be working out for everyone.
The Sandman has instantly debuted at #1 on Netflix’s Top 10 list in the US, unseating Virgin River and passing up the likes of Stranger Things, Keep Breathing and Uncoupled. Usually you might see a new, big show debut at #2 or 3 until word of mouth spreads, but Sandman appears to have instantly shot up to the top, indicating a very strong start.
Other indicators are promising for The Sandman as well, as we wait and see if it will be granted a second season after this debut here. The show is clearly expensive, which you can see in the Dream and Hell kingdoms if you’ve watched the first few episodes, but this may hit the Netflix trifecta of high viewtime, high critic scores and high audience scores.
Though the scores dipped a bit since yesterday, The Sandman is still putting up certified fresh 84% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics, and an 88% among fans, who I would have expected to be hard to please with how much pressure there is on an adaptation of such a beloved classic. But everyone seems to agree that they did a pretty good job here.
I do find it somewhat ironic that this is a DC comic adaptation and a Warner Bros. on Netflix in an era where WB is finding it difficult to get consistent quality out of its own DC projects on film or over on HBO Max. I’m not sure about all the details of how this production came to pass, but it seems like this was likely something in the works for a long, long while, predating all the current WB drama, like how Netflix has a bunch of Marvel shows before the great Disney Plus purge happened.
While it’s perhaps unwise to predict what Netflix will or won’t renew, given how random those decisions seem sometimes, I am pretty confident in saying this kind of performance from Sandman, both in terms of these scores and this initial top 10 placement, indicate to me that they will continue investing in a second season, even if the midst of cutbacks elsewhere. They have to take their victories where they can get them, though I do wonder if the deal with WB could make the show a little vulnerable, as Netflix loves to fully own its biggest hits, and has done away with many co-produced deals the last few years. We’ll have to wait and see.