Now this is finally starting to sound like something I can get behind.
I haven’t been particularly vocal about my affection for the show “Supernatural” up till now, because I’ve never really watched the show on the right schedule to chime in. I caught up to it fairly late. I think they were probably three seasons into production before I decided to give the first few episodes a try. Enough people told me how much the show improved and how good it got that I stuck with it. And honestly, it wasn’t bad to start… just familiar. A cleverly-made “monster of the week” show about a pair of brothers on the road fighting things that go bump in the night, “Supernatural” didn’t seem special at first.
Eventually, though, that’s the exact word I’d use for the series. Under the supervision of Eric Kripke and a truly great writing staff (yay, Ben Edlund!), the show turned into a wry, self-aware, hilarious and often actually scary show with a great mythology. The cast is a big part of the show’s appeal, but it’s the way the show gradually found its voice and its focus and really stuck to what they were building that won me over.
So when I read that Eric Kripke might be the guy to develop “Sandman” for television, and that part of what has to happen before it moves forward is Neil Gaiman signing off or coming onboard, then I start to think, “Maybe this time, they’ll actually do it.”
Way back in the early days of Ain’t It Cool, I wrote an impassioned plea against the direction Warner Bros. was heading in development on a “Sandman” film for producer Jon Peters. It was basically a toxic rant about a draft by William Farmer for Peters, and it was such a bizarre, horrifying misfire that I went a little over the top. In the years since, I’ve spoken to many filmmakers who would love to take a shot at the material, and they’ve all acknowledged the same fear… that they would screw it up and displease Neil Gaiman. No one wants to be that person, or at least none of the people I spoke with want to be that person. And that’s great.
Today, when Borys Kit and James Hibberd broke the story today, I glanced at it and thought Kripke already had the gig, but now it looks like they’re actually still meeting with people to try and find the right fit, with Kripke merely the guy at the top of the potential list for the moment. What I really respect about “Supernatural” is how good they got at the art of building a season, something that I think is essential in serialized storytelling. With “Sandman,” you’ve got amazing potential season arcs lurking in there, and I don’t think it’s as easy as just saying, “One graphic novel, one season.” A really smart showrunner is going to feel free to take the material and completely explode it before putting it back together in the shape of a TV show. And they’re going to know that they don’t have to reinvent anything… they’ve got this outstanding source to draw on, and the gig is more about curating. Finding the best way to translate what makes the comic great to the screen.
Whatever happens, I hope Warner Bros. moves cautiously here and really finds the right match. In those hands, “Sandman” could be the next great TV obsession, and a wealth of material for years to come.
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