On Monday, January 25th, Syfy will premiere the first two episodes of it's new series, The Magicians
, based on the New York Times best-selling book series by Lev Grossman. The series follows Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), a nerdy fan of fantasy novels, who decides he must grow up and move on as he faces grad school, but instead ends up at a secret New York university, Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy. He gets more than he bargained for when he leaves behind his friends to discover that magic is not only real, but so may be the world he and his friends have been reading about since childhood, and their own world may be in danger.
The first episode pulls you in quickly as Quentin, who's always felt out of place, discovers Brakebills and realizes that his life is about to change. He must prove that he has what it takes to become a magician and navigate this new world, which isn't all fun and games; magic proves that it can have dire consequences.
I had read part of the series years ago and was excited to learn that it would be coming to Syfy. It was a series that I felt could be a lot of fun brought to television. People have often described the series as "Harry Potter for adults," but it's so much more. Viewers are sure to draw parallels between The Magicians
and Rowling's series (which I love) - it is about a school of magic, but for graduates, but the theme is where a lot of the comparisons end. The tone of the show is much different, not just in the sense that it's darker, but it's more about magic within the real world that people don't know about, and it's serious. It isn't just about good vs. evil with fairies and trolls, and love prevailing, and students outsmarting their teachers, and the dark side. Magic is often harsh, built on pain, and things don't always get happy endings.
I also love the cast of characters. Quentin is an outright nerd, which makes him relatable. He's not a genius; he's not a hero, in fact he's often quite socially inept, and he doesn't have all the answers. He's someone who has struggled to find a place in the world, which I really appreciate as a viewer. Ralph pulls it off and it feels real and gritty.
His childhood friend Julia (Stella Maeve) is cold and brash, and isn't necessarily about doing the right thing.
His fellow Brakebills students are interesting and unique as well, from the smart yet sassy Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), who everyone thinks they have figured out, to the mysterious Penny (Arjun Gupta) who has been keeping secrets, to Quentin's new friend Eliot (Hale Appleman), who takes him under his wing. He is aloof about it all, yet maybe cares more than he lets on.
The sets of the college are fantastic, and it really fits the mood of the series, as does the fanciful world of Fillory, which I suspect only looks innocuous.
The special effects fit in well and don't feel over done. The magical spells and such work, and other effects, such as with the Beast, were cool and unique effects.
The book has been well adapted into a television series so far, and I'm excited to see how it continues, as just the first book covers up past graduation, so I'm guessing that a lot will be brought into the series that was not taken from the original.The Magicians
is something a bit different for Syfy, but I think it fits really well in with their other scripted series, and I feel it has staying power. The second episode only gets better and even more intriguing.
Be sure to check out the first two episodes of The Magicians
starting Monday, January 25th on Syfy.