Two weeks since the official release of The Sandman on Netflix. Just when you thought you are already over the craze and amazement for the high fantasy TV series adaptation, Netflix and Neil Gaiman surprised everyone with a new episode this August 19th!

It was only a few hours ago when the creator of the show, Neil Gaiman, turn to Twitter. Just like many of us, he too wished that there were more than just ten episodes of Sandman for the first season. 

Unaware, everyone simply replied that they wish the same. Some of them wish for a new season. While others thought that might be too unlikely. A few even said (and others agreed, including us!) that we should all collectively dream that there’s another episode. 

Consequently, just a few hours after Gaiman’s tweet, Netflix drops an 11th episode of the series! The new episode is a two-story collection entitled “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope.” The announcement even came with its trailer.

It’s as if Gaiman had the tweet in the drafts. He had everything planned with Netflix. Fans simply took the bait and were set up – but definitely a set-up we are grateful for. 

What is the Bonus Episode about?

This episode is adapted from issues 17-20 of The Sandman comic, with the title of Dream Country. As previously mentioned, the episode is divided into two stories: an animated story A Dream of a Thousand Cats, and Calliope

A Dream of a Thousand Cats

What makes the first half special is its artistic adaptation. It is the first animated story adapted from the comics. The creator behind this is Dutch animator Hisko Hulsing, he also served as director and production designer for the episode. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix

One of the most cherished and dark stories, it tells the story of cats and their desire to be above humanity. Undoubtedly, it shows a delicate story of how animals, even as small as cats, can have dreams that are just as powerful as humans. The Sandman lead actor Tom Sturridge also returns for the episode to voice his character in the cat form to communicate with them.

According to an article by Netflix, Hulsing wanted the animation to be as mesmerizing and hypnotic as it could. “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. 

Photo courtesy of We Got This Covered

“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 Studio’s in London created the breathtaking 3D animation of the cats. The wonderful 2D animation, oil paintings, and stylizing were all done at Submarine Studio in Amsterdam.”

A Remarkable Cast for Cats

As previously mentioned, Tom Sturridge once again voices the animated feline version of himself. 

It also included notable actors as voices of the other cats, including Neil Gaiman himself:

  • Sandra Oh as The Prophet
  • Rosie Day as The Tabby Kitten
  • David Gyasi as The Grey Cat
  • Joe Lycett as The Black Cat
  • Neil Gaiman as Crow/Skull Bird
  • James McAvoy as Golden-Haired Man
  • David Tennant as Don and Georgia Tennant as  Laura Lynn
  • Michael Sheen as Paul and Anna Lundberg as Marion
  • Nonso Anozie as Wyvern
  • Diane Morgan as Gryphon
  • Tom Wu as Hippogriff

More about the Cast

Photo courtesy of Vox

According to the same article by Netflix, Executive producer Allan Heinberg, and Sandra Oh reunited in London to present the role. They previously work on Grey’s Anatomy. “She was really interested in the show and was asking a lot of great questions,” Heinberg recalls. “And so I said, ‘Is there any part of you interested in voicing this incredible cat?’ And she was too intrigued to say no.”

Photo courtesy of NME

While David Tennant and Michael Sheen, who both worked on Gaiman’s show Good Omens, accepted the role. Along them, are their respective real-life partners, Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg. On the other hand, McAvoy came from the Audible version of The Sandman.

Photo courtesy of Netflix Junkie

Clearly, Neil Gaiman himself was delighted to take the role of voicing the bird. “He’s got one of the best voices,” Heinberg says. “Once we got into the booth, there was nothing reticent about him. He really wanted to be more crowlike and would flap his arms and fearlessly work for it.”

Calliope

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Finally, the second half is back to a live-action story. Directed by Louise Hooper, it is a ghastly story about Morpheus’ imprisoned ex-lover.

Calliope is known to be the muse of eloquence and epic poetry. In the story, she is constantly sexually assaulted for the pleasure and inspiration of the men who are writers. Definitely, Calliope has a darker take. Additionally, it explores the violence against women and the power dynamics between a man in power and an exploited woman

Cast of Calliope

  • Melissanthi Mahut as Calliope
  • Arthur Darvill as Richard Madoc
  • Nina Wadia as Fate Mother
  • Souad Faress as Fate Crone
  • Dinita Gohil as Fate Maiden
  • Kevin Harvey as Larry
  • Amita Suman as Nora
  • Derek Jacobi as Erasmus Fry

More about the Cast

Photo courtesy of Reddit

Indeed, it was a revelation for Heinberg after witnessing Melissanthi Mahut when she auditioned for the role of Calliope. “With Melissanthi, we got her self-tape, her audition. And that was it. It was nobody else,” he explains. “The fact that she’s of Greek ancestry made it even more perfect. I was not familiar with her work at the time, but I was absolutely blown away by her.”

Photo courtesy of Digital Spy

Furthermore, Heinberg was also impressed with Arthur Darvill, whom he previously worked with on Doctor Who. He says, “once Arthur was available and game, we didn’t look anywhere else. He was the Ric Madoc of our dreams, and, in performance, even more so. I think he shows you this man’s soul and somehow makes him not a monster.”

Photo courtesy of PinkNews

In addition, the notable actor Derek Jacobi makes the cast even better. He explains that the role was difficult and they were lucky to find one that was perfect. “That’s a tough role,” Heinberg says of Jacobi’s character, the sadistic Erasmus Fry. “His charm and wit and intelligence… we were extremely lucky. This is a very difficult story. And I think the presence of those three actors made it really compelling and human and deeply moving.”

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Definitely, if you have enjoyed the first 10 episodes of the TV series, there is no doubt the 11th episode will be just as promising! 

Until then, stay with us here at Spiel Times for more content.

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