It took Neil Gaiman 30 years to get a proper adaptation of “The Sandman” made, and what felt like 30 more years (to fans who adored the final product, at least) for Netflix to renew the fantasy epic following its August premiere.
In reality, it was just three months, but those were a long three months for viewers who watched “The Sandman” hold steady on Netflix’s Top 10 English-language titles list week after week (and receive a bump when its top-secret 11th episode dropped two weeks after the first batch launched).
“We wanted to spend the time to get creatively aligned around what would be the next, best experience with ‘The Sandman,'” Netflix’s head of UCAN scripted TV Peter Friedlander told Variety. “And because of that, we wanted to spend the time with [showrunner Allan Heinberg] and Neil and really talk through and be thoughtful about what the approach should be — because Season 1 is also very thoughtful and intentional. So that was really what took the extra time, is to get our ducks in a row.”
Gaiman had previously expressed trepidation regarding the idea of a second season soon after the Season 1 launched, saying that the show’s hefty viewership numbers “may not be enough” for Netflix to justify more episodes. “‘Sandman’ is a really expensive show,” the author wrote.
“I’m very excited about what we have in store and we have made some great decisions around where this will go,” Friedlander said, assuring viewers a renewal was always in the cards — it was just a matter of when. “So it’s a stay-tuned and watch. Like you, I am a major ‘Sandman’ fan and to be able to watch Neil and Allan do what they do is extraordinary. I think what they did with Season 1 — it’s refreshing, it’s breathtaking, it’s iconic. It’s all of those descriptions and to know that it connected with audiences is just so rewarding.”
When “The Sandman” was finally renewed on Nov. 2, Netflix was careful to word the announcement in such a way as to not actually call it a second season, but rather “a continuation of ‘The Sandman’ world” with both an episode count and story details being kept under wraps.
But why is it not called Season 2? Friedlander, who spoke about “The Sandman” renewal during an interview with Variety about Netflix’s 2022 slate and its upcoming 2023 titles, remained tight lipped on that part, prompting Variety to give a theory in hopes he would confirm it one way or another: “It’s not called Season 2 because it’s going to be handled more in line with the comics, where it’s ‘volumes’ and based on the story in the issues, rather than being labeled as a season? Is that it?”
Friedlander’s response: “There are decisions that haven’t been made, but we are considering batching approaches. Everything’s on the table when it comes to ‘Sandman.’ It’s an innovative show.”
When asked if that meant potentially more surprise drops, like the “A Dream of a Thousand Cats/ Calliope” bonus episode, Friedlander gave another cryptic answer.
“The Sandman always follows his own path. I do really believe that,” he said. “The show, I think, was so popular because it was such a discovery and it was such an invention. That’s what we’re trying to honor as we continue to tell this story, and it shouldn’t follow any path other than its own. And I genuinely believe that, and I want to help tell the story in that way with Neil and Allan, and protect the storytelling so it’s the best experience it can be. And so part of that is also just keeping it secret till we know more!”