TV Review: The Magicians

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Airs: Mondays @ 9 pm EST on SyFy Channel

Review: Double-episode pilot

Have you ever wondered what Harry Potter would have been like if he started Hogwarts as a graduate student rather than grade school?  That is the premise behind The Magicians.

For all my complaining about starting at an action sequence then flashing back to see how we got there, The Magicians is an example of why writers do that.  The beginning was extremely sluggish with no real plot line developing immediately.  It starts with a college student with social anxiety reading a book in the middle of a party.  Nothing draws you in like social insecurities.  He and his best friend are kidnapped selected to interview for a magic school (Brakebills).  Social anxiety dude passes the written exam and the “practical.”  His best friend does not.  It took the entirety of the first episode to develop any sort of conflict – the conflict is very Harry Potter-like.  A beast attacks the school and it turns out he is looking for social anxiety dude.

Meanwhile social anxiety boy’s best friend is recruited by a shadow (magic) organization.  I’m not sure if they are behind the beasty that attacked Hogwarts Brakebills or if they’re just a rival magic school (with unorthodox training).

The biggest problem?  The characters are wholly unlikable; they are self-absorbed and somewhat self-loathing [an awesome combination].  The only interesting characters were in the shadow group, and I’m not sure if we are supposed to be rooting for them or not.  As always, once I start rooting for the bad guys (or potential bad guys in this case), the show is dead to me.

The Magicians is a weak attempt at Harry Potter.  Harry Potter, Hermoine, and Ron Weasley are all likable characters.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the character either needs to be likable or really good at something.  Social anxiety dude hates himself, so we do too, and it is explicitly pointed out that he’s not actually good at anything.  I hope the beasty eats him.

WWYT Rating: 4.0

Nielsen Ratings: 0.4.  This is a solid premier for SyFy.  I have seen positive reviews, ones that liked this show more than I did.  With generally positive reviews and solid premier ratings, I expect this will stick around.  Chance of renewal 75%.

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