Netflix's 'The Sandman' is Full of PBS Favorites

Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine and Tom Sturridge as Morpheus
Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine and Tom Sturridge as Morpheus (Ed Miller/Netflix)

Game of Thrones represented a significant turning point in prestige dramas when it hit big on HBO. Dozens of shows have attempted to copy its formula, with varying success. But the one thing many of these shows agree on is hiring A-list British talent is a must. From His Dark Materials to The Nevers, these who's-who casts of BBC players are a hallmark of streaming's biggest plays for award-worthy shows. Netflix is a hardcore believer in that route, from Bridgerton to Shadow and Bone and now the streaming service's latest Next Big Thing, The Sandman.

The show is based on Neil Gaiman's seminal comic series that took the genre from superheroes to the more respectable sounding "graphic novel." The Sandman is a dark fantasy series blending mythology and history is a story starring anthropomorphized metaphysical entities Dream, Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Delirium (formerly known as Delight). It is considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, and Gaiman's unlikely hit affected the trajectories of both urban fantasy and comics for a generation after.

Though most of Gaiman's projects have been under the Amazon umbrella since the success of Good Omens, The Sandman was produced by Warner Bros (which has the rights via its overall deal with DC comics), originally meaning it for HBO. But the premium cabler passed because the budget was too large, leaving Netflix to snap it up. The resulting first season, which consists of ten one-hour episodes, may not quite hit the famous price tag of Stranger Things 4 (which reportedly rang in at $30million an episode), but it sure looks expensive.

Here's the show's logline:

When the Sandman, aka Dream — the powerful cosmic being who controls all our dreams — is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for over a century, he must journey across different worlds and timelines to fix the chaos his absence has caused.

The cast is undoubtedly worth whatever Netflix paid. Tom Sturridge (The Hollow Crown) stars as Morpheus/ Dream, Gwendoline Christie (The Personal History of David Copperfield) plays Lucifer, and Charles Dance (The Crown) is Roderick Burgess the charlatan that accidentally traps Morpheus on Earth. The cast also features PBS regulars Jenna Coleman (Victoria), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Unforgotten), and Niamh Walsh (Jamestown). P{lus there's David Thewlis (Landscapers), Stephen Fry (A Bit of Fry & Laurie), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Killing Eve), Vivienne Acheampong (Turn Up Charlie), Joely Richardson (The Tudors), Sandra James Young (Top Boy), Razane Jammal (Doubt), Asim Chaudhry (People Just Do Nothing), and Donna Preston (Hard Cell).

Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess
(Ed Miller/Netflix)

There are also quite a few high-profile American actors in the cast, including Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), Patton Oswalt (Drunk History), Mason Alexander Park (The Legend of Vox Machina), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig & The Angry Inch), and newcomer Vanesu Samunyai.

The Sandman Season 1 arrives on Netflix, with all episodes on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.