The Magicians Review: Syfy’s New Magic Drama Has Potential

There’s magic in the air at Syfy, and plenty of drama to go with it. I refer to the arrival of magiciansSyfy’s series adaptation of Lev Grossman’s best-selling fantasy novels. magicians gets off to a great start, using its first episode to introduce the ensemble of magic-prone young adults, and deepening the adventure, drama, and danger that are very obviously in store for these characters. The first two episodes are solid, giving us a glimpse of the show’s potential to grow into something thrilling, dark, and entertaining.

Created by Sera Gamble and John McNamara, magicians introduces us to Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), a Yale-bound graduate student whose appreciation and yet-to-be-discovered aptitude for magic leads him away from a traditional life and toward Brakebills University, a school for magicians. budding.

magicians wastes no time opening Quentin’s eyes to the existence of magic, as he is among many other magician-hopefuls invited to take the Brakebills entrance exam. His best friend Julia (Stella Maeve) also takes the exam, but while Quentin does well enough to enroll, Julia is fired, seemingly forced to forget all about the experience.

Quentin, continues his magical education and meets his fellow Brakebills students, including the intelligent legacy Alice Quinn (Olivia Taylor Dudley), the edgy and attitude William “Penny” Adiyodi, and the opinionated veterans from Brakebills, Margo (Summer Bishil) and Eliot (Hale Appleman), neither of which are present enough, in my opinion. Particularly Eliot, who intrigues from the start, and only becomes more interesting from the second episode. Hoping that he will get more involved in the plot when the season resumes.


The first episode of magicians focuses his attention on Eliot’s introduction to Brakebills, Eliot’s appreciation of the Fillory and more series – which may be little more than fantasy – and the introduction of a mysterious threat to the students and teachers of Brakebills. By episode two, it’s even clearer that a major arc is brewing as this fantasy drama heats up. And then there’s Julia, whose life is far from normal in the wake of her rejection from Brakebills. Without saying too much about her story, it’s obvious by the end of the second episode that her arc is significant.

If there is anything negative to report magicians from its first two episodes, it’s that the series really feels like a not-quite-rehearsed new TV show. I may have spent more time than I wanted to notice that Alice’s hair, neatly pulled back with a side clip, was just a little too neat, or that Alice’s levitating cock Penny and her equally pissed off girlfriend Kady tried a little too hard to hit that sexy-magic note. We get it, it’s not Hogwarts. Dark and twisted – and as you will see at one point in the premiere, sometimes quite gross – things are going to happen.

Finally, the first two episodes do not reveal much to us about Quentin’s personality. His interests are obvious and his abilities are teased, but by the end of the second episode, he still feels more like the entry point to this magical world than a central character. Or maybe the personalities of Penny, Alice, Eliot, and Margo stand out a lot more. We even get a good read on Julia’s personality, despite the fact that much of her story takes place separately from what’s going on with Quentin.

quentin and julia

As noticeable as these issues are, they’re the kind of wrinkles that can naturally smooth out with a bit of time and the right story progression.

With shows like To be human, Bitten and lost girl Among Syfy’s recent offerings, it’s obvious that Syfy is still looking to attract an audience for supernatural dramas. In this regard, magicians is a good fit for the range of the network. Given time to settle in and develop its characters, this new series has the potential to be a fun, dark and twisted drama, which will probably appeal most to young adults and adult viewers looking for a bit of magic in their television experience.

magicians premieres Monday, January 25 at 9/8c on Syfy. Watch the first episode online here.

Brian L. Hartfield