The Magicians [SyFy series]

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Anybody else watching this? I loved the first two episodes. Then again, I'm a Sera Gamble fangirl way back from her Supernatural days.

I watched the first episode and enjoyed it.

Then I started reading the books.

That was a mistake, as the characters in the books are without fail, completely unlikeable. I hope they are not similar.

...aaaaaaaaaand there goes another evening.

mudbunny wrote:

I watched the first episode and enjoyed it.

Then I started reading the books.

That was a mistake, as the characters in the books are without fail, completely unlikeable. I hope they are not similar.

I've heard similar things from other people. Think I'll skip the books for now.

Also, I'm loving how they didn't drop Julia. Fifteen minutes into the first episode, I swore she was toast. So I'm super delighted that they didn't Fridge her. She's WAY more interesting than Quentin is, imo.

The last 10 minutes of the first episode was really HOLY CRAP DID THEY JUST DO THAT!?!? I'm really liking it. I hope they keep it up.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I've heard similar things from other people. Think I'll skip the books for now.

You know how in Harry Potter, there is a book where Harry is all "My life sucks, the world sucks, woe is me!!!" And in The Wheel of Time, there are 3 or 4 books where Rand is the same?? Well, in The Magicians , all of the main and secondary characters are like that.

Having read all three and feeling the exact same way, I've gotta say that the books, mainly where the end up, really does chronicle the characters becoming adults. True, they are elitist hipsters at first, but by the end, mainly through great tragedy mostly of their own making, they do grow up, one and all. But you gotta get through that first book to get the payoff.

I agree, the books are definitely high concept. But once you buy into the conceit, they are great reads. They definitely create emotional reactions to the characters and events.

The wife and I are both huge fans of the books. Only watched the pilot so far but really enjoyed it. The changes make sense and all the characters come across as true to the spirit of their book versions.

mudbunny wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

I've heard similar things from other people. Think I'll skip the books for now.

You know how in Harry Potter, there is a book where Harry is all "My life sucks, the world sucks, woe is me!!!" And in The Wheel of Time, there are 3 or 4 books where Rand is the same?? Well, in The Magicians , all of the main and secondary characters are like that.

Eeesh! Life's too short to commit to a book, much less an entire series, about characters you can't root for.

It makes me a little concerned for the TV series, but I'm liking what I've seen so far. All the kids are kinda dicks, but in that believable 19-year-old way, rather than just because.

Just finished The Magician King after re-reading The Magicians, all in anticipation of the show. While most of the characters are (or at least start off) infuriatingly self-absorbed, deeply flawed, and often behave horribly, I don't find them completely unlikable or unrelatable, just, well, what Grenn said. Immature, disillusioned teenagers suddenly presented with the prospect of incredible personal power. The "tragedy of their own making" part I think is was really grips me about the series, as it brings that feeling of believability to the stories, and consequently they gut me every time.

I'll agree that Quentin is almost always the least likable/interesting character, and almost always has the undeserved privilege of being accompanied by some pretty great female characters IMO, but hey, I can relate to that.

I loved the novels--loved them so much that I scored the promo trailer for The Magician's Land--but I really disliked the pilot.

I think I understand why the showrunners made the changes they did, but I also think those changes mostly weaken the story and diminish the characters (who, admittedly, are initially mostly a bunch of unlikeable, self-absorbed, entitled teenage assholes in the first novel). There's a lot that feels forced and contrived compared to the slow, rich way in which the novel's world unfolds, and the dialogue often feels stilted, cumbersome and artificial in that very particular SyFy budget SF way (very little of the dialogue is taken from the novels). As a measure of how this show fails to break the SyFy mold and become the prestige drama that SyFy wanted, I watched the pilot with my wife (a non-nerd), and she almost instantly lost interest in it. I spent a lot of that hour repeatedly feeling vaguely embarrassed for myself and the whole cast and crew of the show.

The one change that works well is the decision to make Julia a co-protagonist from the get-go, and that gives me some hope for the rest of the series. But in the meantime, I have almost no desire to watch episode 2.

edit: I don't mean to come in here and be super negative and sh*t all over the nice thread. I am willing to consider the possibility that I was way too invested in the novels to ever really enjoy the show, no matter how great it is.

Well, I really enjoyed the 1st episode and I watched the 2nd and I'm board for the series unless it really jumps the shark. As usual, the premise is what really interests me and the characters become secondary (until they don't).

I will say that the first episode is way, way more enjoyable than the books.

That was a mistake, as the characters in the books are without fail, completely unlikeable. I hope they are not similar.

This is true, but man, Grossman has such an eye for character. It's almost uncanny. In real life, if you gave teenage kids a ton of magic power and zero ethics training, that's pretty much what you'd get, a bunch of unbelievable assholes.

By the third book, they're really starting to grow up. But the first two are quite unpleasant.

Because of that, am definitely going to hold off on the video. I know I wouldn't want to re-read those books: they might be accurate, but I wouldn't want to experience them again. So I'll assume I wouldn't like the TV version unless I hear otherwise.

TV seems to make the characters more likable. Can't put my finger on how yet.

Well, to begin with, they made the characters grad students instead of seniors in high school, which allows them to be a bit older and more world weary, as opposed to dripping with infuriating adolescent privileged entitlement (a central theme of the novel). We know right off the bat that Quentin is actually clinically depressed, because he's being treated for depression, which makes his behavior a little more sympathetic. In the novel, we immediately have a window into most of the main characters that aren't Julia - we know that Penny is basically a paranoid asshole, we know that Janet/Margo is a shameless manipulator, we know that Eliot is wracked with a deep sense of self-loathing, etc, etc. When we are only seeing these characters from the outside, they all seem a lot more likeable--and at least in the case of Penny, he seems to have been further overhauled. In the novels he's obviously brilliant but very unstable and very angry, and pretty much no one likes him. In the show, he's...kind of cool?

edit: Also, the pilot (and, based on the reviews I've read, ep2) moves so quickly that we don't really get much of a look at who the characters actually are. Per the Variety review (with which I mostly agree), the characters exist to serve the story, when it should be the other way around.

edit again: This review does a much better job of distilling my problems with the show: http://observer.com/2015/12/the-magi...

*shrug* I liked the first two episodes. A lot. But then again, I didn't read the books, so I'm not coming into it with the weight of expectation, nor any comparisons to my experience with or vision of the original source material. But I totally get that feeling. I've had it with other IPs.

As a long-time Sera Gamble fan, I actually love her approach toward characterization. She uses a lot of visual metaphors and shorthand, even something as subtle as a character's clothing, to speak volumes about who they are as characters. Maybe then because I'm so familiar with her style, I disagree with the Variety review; I don't feel the pacing is bad or awkward at all, and I certainly don't feel like I'm at a loss as to who these characters are.

Speaking of Sera Gamble, here she is giving a little background on how the show got its start.

Yeah, I notice that the most critical reviews come from people who are fans of the novel. I also mostly agree with the AV Club's reviewers, but again, they're both coming from strong familiarity with the source material.

As a standalone thing, it's fine. It's a competent piece of genre TV. It's just that it loses almost all of the emotional authenticity and wry subversion and dissection of that genre that made the novels so special.

I'm glad that you're digging it, though.

Just caught up on the newest episode. Goddamn, I just love all the women in this show. They're so flawed and obsessed and take-no-sh*t and just, UGH, fascinating.

I am a little confused about one thing that happened in the episode, however:

Spoiler:

The scene of the students chilling out by the fountain and drowned -- was that a flashback to something that happened ages ago? Or did "Charlie" kill them?

KaterinLHC wrote:

Just caught up on the newest episode. Goddamn, I just love all the women in this show. They're so flawed and obsessed and take-no-sh*t and just, UGH, fascinating.

I am a little confused about one thing that happened in the episode, however:

Spoiler:

The scene of the students chilling out by the fountain and drowned -- was that a flashback to something that happened ages ago? Or did "Charlie" kill them?

Spoiler:

My opinion is that it happened in present time. Also, the kids did not die the teacher says they will recover. Not sure if it was Charlie though.

karmajay wrote:
Spoiler:

My opinion is that it happened in present time. Also, the kids did not die the teacher says they will recover. Not sure if it was Charlie though.

Spoiler:

That's what the Dean said, but the action on screen clearly showed someone being drowned. I think it was meant to reinforce to the audience that the teachers at Brakebills have no problem lying to the students and covering up 'inconvenient' situations.

That definitely could be. Good point. I haven't read the books either so the show is all the info I have

I'm on board, but the wife decided she didn't want to commit.

Ep 4 was pretty crazy! Interested in what the hedge wizards will be up to now.

First off I'm totally unfamiliar with the books. I caught the first episode this weekend to see if it was something I would be interested in, and it moved so blindingly fast I feel like I missed some important elements of the world. I understand they needed to squeeze a ton into the pilot but I have zero feel for how this world is stitched together. I thought Doctor Who was the pinnacle of hand-waving between plot points but this was like a whole new level! Please tell me they take time to breathe in subsequent episodes...

Still enjoying the show, but I have to say, I laughed my ass off in Episode 5:

Spoiler:

"You killed Cancer Puppy?!"

trichy wrote:

Still enjoying the show, but I have to say, I laughed my ass off in Episode 5:

Spoiler:

"You killed Cancer Puppy?!"

Heh yeah. I was a little surprised out how easily they just did that.

As someone who hasn't read the books... I feel like nothing is happening... like everything that has happened so far has done nothing to any character.

The only one I feel has progressed is the psychic guy.

Do they have classes in the books? I feel like they just know more and more things without doing anything but looking at a book as a side action in an early scene.

Yeah, pretty much the entire first third of The Magicians (the novel) revolves around the coursework, and how brutally rigorous and tedious it is, and how Quentin, who is used to being super genius guy in school, suddenly has to scramble to feel barely adequate. I get why that's not in the show--it would be boring--but it does weaken the foundations a bit. In the show, it seems like Brakebills is all partying and shenanigans, and the hedge witches are all discipline and rigor, when it's kind of the other way around in the novels.

That said, I finally started watching the show again, and I like it a lot more once it gets through the pilot (and I feel bad for being so stridently negative earlier). The further it gets from the books, the better it works for me.

The biggest weak point of the show for me is still just struggling to keep from checking out every time Quentin shows up. He's just so generic and everything he does has been so completely predictable.

Julia and Penny and even Alice and pretty much all the other supporting characters are way more interesting.

Everything that isn't Quentin is what's keeping me watching for now.

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