The Magicians Pilot Review

Quintin shows his magic in The Magician

The Magicians

The Magicians is a new fantasy series from Syfy channel that will debut January 25th. Just as with The Expanse Syfy has released the first episode ahead of schedule to promote its streaming service and get the buzz going. The Magicians is based on the novel by author Lev Grossman that was released in 2009 and spawned two sequels. It tells the story of Quintin Coldwater (played by Jason Ralph), a brilliant and severely antisocial student who is seeking to enroll in Princeton, but instead through circumstance finds himself enrolled in the Brakebills College of Magic. There is longlasting love of the novel series Fillory and Further is rewarded when he discovers magic is real.

Jason Ralph in The Magicians as Quintin.

Quintin’s soul-mate is Julia Wicker. She gave up on the idea of magic and the novels of Fillory and Further to face the real world. However, she is also invited to the entrance exam of Brakebills, only to be denied admission. Afterwards she remembers enough of the school to go on a quest herself to find magic. The Magicians quickly moves into higher gear by introducing Quintin’s roomates at Brakebills as well as ‘the Beast’, a magician who unleashes a veritable bloodletting in the classrooms of Brakebills.

The Magicians - Laura Fraser.

The pilot episode ‘Unauthorized Magic’ can draw from some very strong secondary characters. Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad and Lip Service) was an unexpected sight and I hope her character, a teacher at Brakebills College, will return. Yet it was Rick Worthy (The Man In The High Castle) who shun as the confident dean of the college. With his lackadaisical attitude towards magic while at the same time acknowledging the surprise Quentin feels towards its existence made me laugh.

Rick Worthy as Henry Fogg in The Magicians.

The ten episode first season can also draw on the talented Amanda Tapping as the director of one episode. Her work on Continuum and Dark Matter recently were quite memorable. Alas the pilot episode of The Magicians is not without its flaws. I felt at times confused. I think I have managed to guess enough to fill in the blanks. I understand the need for a show like The Magicians to pace itself and only dole out revelations when needed. Sadly, there were plenty of times during the pilot that I felt bored. Some of the plot elements could have been explained in later episodes, perhaps through flashbacks, if it meant this episode would have fewer side plots.

Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker in The Magicians

I have said this before and I will say it again. Never judge a show by its pilot episode. I hope The Magicians can offer viewers a great experience as the show continues it release cycle from January onwards. At this moment I just didn’t feel the connection, but I recognize the show has plenty of elements its creators can use to make this work. That includes three novels by author Lev Grossman. This was my review of The Magicians pilot episode. I hope you enjoyed reading it. I do advice giving the show a try in January despite the issues I discussed here!

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