British Newcomers to Lead Netflix's 'The Sandman' Spin-Off 'Dead Boy Detectives'

George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson in "Dead Boy Detectives"

George Rexstrew, Jayden Revri, Kassius Nelson in "Dead Boy Detectives"

(Photo: Netflix)

Netflix's first entry in its expanded The Sandman universe is set to arrive this spring— but don't expect Tom Sturridge to pop up anywhere. Dead Boy Detectives may technically hail from the same universe as Dream of the Endless, but its story is very different. The eight-part series will follow the adventures of Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland, two ghosts and best friends who head the Dead Boy Detective Agency. Teenagers who were born decades apart and found one another in death, they have chosen to forgo an afterlife in the name of continued adventures together on Earth. Together with their (living) friend Crystal Palace, they investigate supernatural crimes of all sorts (and maybe do some good along the way. 

The characters were initially introduced in the fourth volume of author Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, titled "Season of Mists." Their story, set in a British boarding school, was meant to help illustrate the problems caused by Lucifer's decision to empty and abandon Hell. (Go with it, I promise it makes sense in the comic.) Gaiman liked the characters so much that he brought them back for a Vertigo Comics crossover event called Children's Crusade. The pair went on to get their own spin-off comic from writers Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham, which followed them as they investigated a mystery involving the corpses of homeless children washing up on the shores of the Thames.

In short, this is a Sandman spin-off that doesn't have much to do with the Dreaming, but the fantastical, distinctly supernatural vibes and dry, sarcastic humor will feel very familiar to fans of that work. 

George Rexstrew and Jayden Revri in "Dead Boy Detectives"

George Rexstrew and Jayden Revri in "Dead Boy Detectives"

(Photo: Netflix)

Dead Boy Detectives was greenlit initially as part of the DC Comics onscreen universe, back when Max still had an HBO in front of it. But with the general disintegration of the DCEU and James Gunn’s apparent determination to start the seemingly doomed enterprise over from scratch for a third time, the series suddenly found itself without a broadcast home. Enter Netflix, which seemed all too eager to kickstart the process of building out its own Sandman franchise. It’s a brilliant move given the anthology nature of the mothership series, which introduces all manner of characters who could easily support their own stories. (It’s also likely that Netflix’s The Sandman will reach the “Season of Mists” arc in its second season, which would be some fortuitous corporate synergy.)

“Charles was more or less me as a boy,” Gaiman told Netflix’s Tudum. “I loved writing him and Edwin and was proud to send them out into the world. Who amongst us can honestly say that if we were hanging around the Earth as a ghost, we wouldn’t want to start a detective agency? I think what fans responded to the most was their good-heartedness and dedication.”

Newcomer George Rexstrew plays Edwin Payne, alongside Jayden Revri (Fate: The Winx Saga) as Charles Rowland. Kassius Nelson (Hollyoaks) is psychic medium Crystal Palace, while Yuyu Kitamura is Niko Saskai. Other members of the series ensemble cast include Jenn Lyon (Justified), Briana Cuoco (Harley Quinn), Ruth Connell (Doom Patrol), Michael Beach (DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), Lukas Gage (You), Joshua Colley (Senior Year), and David Iacono (The Summer I Turned Pretty). 

Here’s the series synopsis.

Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives. Meet Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland, “the brains” and “the brawn” behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries. They will do anything to stick together – including escaping evil witches, Hell and Death herself. With the help of a clairvoyant named Crystal and her friend Niko, they are able to crack some of the mortal realm’s most mystifying paranormal cases. 

Dead Boy Detectives was developed for television by Steve Yockey (The Flight Attendant), who wrote the first episode and serves as showrunner alongside Beth Schwartz (Arrow). Greg Berlanti (Riverdale), Jeremy Carver (Supernatural), Sarah Schechter (You), Leigh London Redman (Gotham Knights), Yockey, Schwartz, and Gaiman serve as executive producers, and the series hails from Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The first episode is executive-produced and directed by Lee Toland Krieger.

“If The Sandman is this really lush, rich supernatural drama, then Dead Boy Detectives is the Hardy Boys on acid,” Yockey said. “Hopefully just as addictive, but through a severely cracked lens.”

Netflix has not yet set an official premiere date for the series, but it is expected to arrive this spring. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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