The Sandman, the live-action television series based on Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy DC Comics series of the same name, premiered on Netflix on Friday. The 10-episode first season takes viewers on a journey across the far corners of the land of dreams, through the gates of hell, and the waking world of the mortal realm as Dream (Tom Sturridge) rebuilds his domain after more than a century of imprisonment on Earth.
Fans of the series were treated to a surprise with the reveal of an 11th episode comprising adaptations of two beloved standalone stories from The Sandman comic. The first is an animated take on “A Dream of a Thousand Cats,” the 18th issue of the original comic series. Collected in the third volume of The Sandman, “Dream Country,” the issue follows the story of a small white cat who is called to sneak away one night to attend a secret meeting in a graveyard where a Siamese cat relates the story of how she met the Dream Lord (in the form of a cat) who tells her the secret history and feud between cats and humans.
The animated tale will also bring a bevy of guest stars lending their vocal talents to The Sandman, including James McAvoy (who notably plays Dream in the audio adaptation), Sandra Oh (Killing Eve), and Neil Gaiman himself.
The second story in the bonus episode is a live-action adaptation of “Calliope,” which in the comics, immediately precedes “A Dream of A Thousand Cats” in issue #17. Taking its name from one of the nine muses in Greek mythology, it tells the story of Richard Madoc (played by Doctor Who’s Arthur Darville), a writer who cruelly enslaves Calliope in order to fuel his own artistic ambition and write great work.
Although the bonus episode was previously unannounced and a surprise to most, Neil Gaiman did imply that the show had adapted “A Dream of A Thousand Cats” in one form or another when asked about what his favorite issues of The Sandman were during an interview for Netflix’s Geeked Week event. “Calliope,” however, is a little bit more of a (unsettling) surprise.