Having finished the Sandman tv series, this is my opinion as a longtime fan of the comic book: it’s okay if this is your only exposure to Sandman.
(Mind you, the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz proved to me that the movie can be better than the book. And after Robert Downy Jr said ‘I am Iron Man’ in 2008, all bets were off. If you refuse to read the original Tolkien books, though, you are dead to me)
That said, I can’t help but approach it as a comic book fan and compare the two.
Neil Gaiman has been very active in the creation of the television show. And, at least for the first season, I feel like I was watching him take this as a chance to do a do-over.
For many reasons, I feel that the first storyline in the comic books was the weakest. Gaiman and his collaborators were finding both their voice and the direction of the comic book. One obvious change was pulling out all the DC characters. I’m sure that was for legal reasons but it also worked for artistic reasons.
One of the things that struck me about the translation of the first two storylines of the comic book was what I think of as the Margaret Hamilton effect. The 1939 movie made the Wicked Witch of the West the through line of the story, instead of a character who shows up for two chapters. The Corinthian serves as that through line, bridging the two stories.
I also enjoyed many of the changes they made to characters. Morpheus was more vulnerable, which was good because he is close to omnipotent most of the time in the comics. This Morpheus is easier to sympathize with.
And I just erased three paragraphs about character developments. There’s plenty of room for argument but I am glad that Gaiman and crew took chances and made adjustments for the medium and thirty years of cultural shifts.
Speaking of adjusting for medium, I was surprised by how much 24 Hours was toned down but I think that was a very smart choice. Not because I think viewers would be shocked and offended but because I think the extreme of the original work would have broken the suspension of disbelief.
Wow. This has been more random bullet point than I expected. Summing it up: the creative team not only did a good job adapting the work, they made a product that can stand on its own.