TV Season Review: The Magicians

The Syfy show was put up on Netflix a month or so ago, and I’d heard mixed things about the series, but I loved the book, so it seemed like it was worth giving it a shot. (Especially when I’d heard rumblings that the second season has been a really nice upgrade from the first. Always good to hear shows improving.)

The book series is basically Harry Potter mashed into Narnia, with Game of Thrones thrown into it for good measure. It’s very much an adult series. Not for kids. But I’ve always been a huge Narnia fan, and so I was interested to see what Grossman had to say. It’s quite dark and depressing in many parts, but I had a great time with the trilogy. Imagine Hogwarts is an exclusive American university, and some students there discover Narnia isn’t just real, but the series told about actual events. But the books had been cleaned up for kids, and the reality turned out to be much darker and violent.

The TV show started strong, and Denisa and I pretty much binge watched it. (13 episodes in 10 days. That counts as bingeing for my schedule.) It was what I expected, more or less. Very much an adult show, but tons of winks and nods to fantasy fans. It’s not quite the adult level as an HBO series would be, meaning they don’t have full on nudity, but it’s got pretty much everything else as far as violence, language, and sex goes. So it isn’t for everyone.

But it’s pretty compelling. There were no episodes that I was completely blown away by, but each one was a solid base hit or double, and the first season managed to keep the tension high and the virtual pages turning. The characters took a bit of time to become established, and the plot lacked focus now and then, but by the end things were humming quite well.

I felt like they rushed a few areas of the plot too much, no more so than in the finale, which had to resort to a completely new storytelling device to manage to cram everything in. That was too bad, because other than that, the finale was pretty awesome. Tons of plot movement. Big surprises. Great stuff.

I’m encouraged, though, because the series made some big changes to the books, and I’m left hoping they no longer feel the need to cover everything that was in the novels and can instead just go start doing their own things. The stage has been set, but I think it’s been clear that when they tried to follow the books, they just didn’t have the budget or the time to do everything justice. I’m excited to see where they go now that they’re unfettered, and I imagine that might be one of the main reasons the second season has been doing great things. We’ll see.

In any case, check this one out if it sounds interesting to you. I’d give the season an 8/10 in my new tougher rating system. Though be warned that you’re in for a big ol’ cliffhanger at the end of the first season . . .

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