27 January 2016 | atlasmb
A Journey Into A Dark World of Excitement
After two episodes, this new series by the Syfy Channel has already captured my interest and my imagination. "The Magicians" is a supernatural tale adapted from the books of Lev Grossman, which I have not read. It will inevitably be compared to the Harry Potter saga, but it operates on a different level.
When we are introduced to Harry Potter, he is a young child, full of hope and fascination. Hogwarts is a Disney-like playground, full of wonderment. The main character of "The Magicians" is Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph)--a college senior who suffers from a general malaise, as if he never feels comfortable in the world.
His path is set--the obligatory applications for ivy league schools, probably followed by an unfulfilling career in something uninspiring. But he is sidetracked (just as Harry literally was) by unknown forces, and finds himself sitting for an exam. The purpose of the exam is obscure, but Quentin (Q) feels an opportunity is at hand.
The show is about Q's introduction to magic. At the same time, the viewer learns that destructive forces are at play. From its beginning, "The Magicians" lets us know this is a dark and sinister story, full of foreboding and impending menace. It feels more like "His Dark Materials" than Harry Potter, and that is a good thing.
The story moves quickly. We are introduced to competing factions and a world of dreams that may be real. A villain--one of the creepiest ever created with special effects--makes an appearance and leaves his mark.
There is also humor, mostly via the whimsical nature of magic. It provides a welcome relief. Otherwise, the show would be nothing more than a battle among dark forces.
Early on, Q feels like an underdeveloped character--one with potential and plenty of room for blossoming. Into something special, we feel. Into a person who knows his place in the universe. But there is plenty of time for that. We want to enjoy the journey.
Update 3/1/16: A world of magic should be unbound by the rules and conventions of the natural world. And that is the world "The Magicians" has proved to be. The world of magic is revealed to be inventive and unpredictable. It is freewheeling, nearly anarchic, full of surprises and possibilities. I am upping my grade to "9".