Friday, May 20, 2016

Syfy's The Magicians: A Retrospective Update

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The first season of The Magicians ended a couple of weeks ago, so I've had plenty of time to mull over my reactions to the show (which took a day or two, and then I procrastinated a bunch). Season 2 is already a lock, set to air in 2017.

I'll certainly watch season 2, but I was ultimately disappointed with season 1. It started strong; I loved the first 3 or 4 episodes. There were obvious plot tweaks that helped transition the material from book to screen, but I understood and agreed with those changes. The characters were still true to their origins and fun to watch. As the season developed, though, the storyline started running off the rails. I was feeling uneasy by the middle episodes, and I was completely flummoxed by the end. Julia's story in particular took a cliff dive - I actively hated her screen time. There's a brief respite when she and Quentin make it to Fillory, when their chemistry really recalls their friendship and the magic from the beginning of the series, but that's quickly stolen away again.

Another issue I had was the gore. It was completely unnecessary. The books are far from clean, often touted as "Harry Potter with drugs and sex," but they didn't feature grisly murder after grisly murder. That addition may have upped the drama, sure, but it seriously took away from the fun.

So why will I still watch the second season? Complaints aside, there are some elements that I kept loving throughout the season. Eliot and Margo are great characters who get even better when they're together. Eliot is far and away my favorite part of the show, mostly because he's the closest to being the book character come to life. Penny's actually better in the show than he is in the books - he's a much more lovable grump on screen. I'm also dying to see more of Fillory! The magic looks awesome no matter what, but Fillory is the perfect setting for it. 

I know I said in the first post that we shouldn't expect the show to be identical to the books, but I honestly wanted it to be a little closer in comparison. Here's hoping they fix the mess that is Julia's story next season!

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