Netflix has just released a bonus, full-length episode for The Sandman, its critically acclaimed live-action series based on Neil Gaiman’s DC Comics series of the same name. This new episode is split into two parts, each covering a standalone short story from the original dark fantasy comic series.
The first is an animated adaptation of “A Dream Of A Thousand Cats,” which features voice acting talents from Neil Gaiman himself, as well as Sandra Oh, Rosie Day, David Gyasi, David Tennant, Michael Sheen, and James McAvoy.
The second half of the episode is “Calliope,” starring Melissanthi Mahut in the title role, alongside Arthur Darvill, Nina Wadia, and Derek Jacobi. Tom Sturridge reprises his role as Morpheus / Dream of The Endless for both.
Some of you might recognize these familiar actors from other adaptations of Gaiman’s work, as most of the cast have previously featured in Audible’s audiobook adaptation of The Sandman. David Tennant and Michael Sheen also star in lead roles as Crowley and Aziraphale, respectively, in the Amazon adaption of Good Omens, another book Gaiman co-wrote with the late Terry Pratchett.
The bonus 11th episode is based on two standalone stories and not directly connected to the series, much like they were in the comics. We won’t spoil the plotlines for you, though we will assure new fans of the series that this bonus episode doesn’t mop up the remaining source content, so there’s still plenty to explore should The Sandman be renewed for a second season.
The first mini-episode uses some unusual animation techniques to capture the variable style of the original comic, as outlined in a behind-the-scenes interview with Dutch animator Hisko Hulsing. “We endeavored to make the animated version of ‘A Dream of a Thousand Cats’ as mesmerizing and hypnotic as we could by utilizing the magic of real oil paintings on canvas,” Hulsing explains.
“We endeavored to make the animated version of ‘A Dream of a Thousand Cats’ as mesmerizing and hypnotic as we could”
“We combined the paintings with classically drawn 2D animation, based on realistic 3D animation of telepathic cats in order to create a trippy world that feels both grounded and dreamy at the same time. Untold Studios in London created the breathtaking 3D animation of the cats. The wonderful 2D animation, oil paintings and stylizing were all done at Submarine Studios in Amsterdam.”
This hype surrounding The Sandman is great news for Netflix, which several weeks ago announced that the service had lost 1.3 million subscribers across the US and Canada in just three months. While the show only appeared on the service on August 5th, a press release notes that it’s so far amassed a total watch time of “196.98 million hours,” making it the most popular English-language series since its release.