October Review: The Magicians (Season 1, 2, 3, and 4)

While witches have laid claim to Halloween, magicians and magics can be found year round if you know where to look.  The place to look is now Syfy, (or Netflix,) in the simply named The Magicians.

The show is like Harry Potter: The Graduate Years, feeling like the sort of twenty something drama you’d expect from The CW but without pretending like the kids are still in high school.  It feels about as Buffy as you can get without actually having Joss Whedon involved.  Here, we have a review for seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4.  It’s worth noting that I started this review when I was mid season two, and as I finished a season I revised the review, and the score keeps climbing.


The Magicians

Created by Sera Gamble and John McNamara
Based on The Magicians by Lev Grossman


Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker
Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh
Arjun Gupta as William ‘Penny’ Adiyodi
Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson
Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn
Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater
Jade Tailor as Kady Orloff-Diaz
Brittany Curran as Fen
Rick Worthy as Henry Fogg
Trevor Einhorn as Josh Hoberman


Quentin Coldwater enrolls at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy to be trained as a magician, where he discovers that the magical world from his favorite childhood books is real and poses a danger to humanity. Meanwhile, the life of his childhood friend Julia is derailed when she is denied entry, and she searches for magic elsewhere.   (From Wikipedia.)

High Point:

Flippant irrelevant sexy young adults using spells in a modern (and fantasy) setting.  This is very clearly a genre, and it is hitting that genre dead on.  They continue to get more meta as it goes, and so far, the apex of the show is a triumphant cast singing of Under Pressure.  By season four’s musical episode, not only is “musical episode” a thing, they successfully abandon justification for using the strongest singers and still justify it perfectly in the show.

Low Point:

Quentin Coldwater, our main point of view character, is mopey and whiny.  Alice feels like she should be a better character, but somehow never lives up to what she could be.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 The show is not breaking any new ground, but the show doesn’t apologize for that, sometimes even accepting that for the sake speeding along the story.

Effects: 5/6 The effects are the height of television effects, and all seem to work well.

Acting: 5/6 The depth of the acting doesn’t start deep, and the characters sometimes seem a smug or self involved, but that is also exactly what is being called for from the characters.  As the show progresses, the actors sink into the characters and really shine.

Production: 5/6 By season three, you see they are taking the same sets/settings and redressing them for a new location, but it works really well.  The cast, especially Hale Appleman, can sing on a level that feels like they may be wasted with acting.

Story: 6/6  The story feels like a series of books that is worth lining up for outside of a bookstore.1

Emotional Response: 5/6 The characters are sympathetic, and they screw up fairly often, but are very relatable.  The High Point is worth rewatching just for the moments to cheer.

Overall: 6/6  The show is Buffy or Firefly level.

In total, “The Magicians” receives 36/42

1A bookstore, kids, is a store that sells books.  Store, a physical building often made of brick and mortar.  No, you don’t need a tablet, the books are on paper, like a printou–oh, nevermind.


October 3/4: Mandy (2018)

October 10/11: Cry of the Werewolf (1944) and Silver Bullet (1985)

October17/18: Color out of Space (2019)

October 24/25: Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Novel and Movie

October 30: The Magicians (Seasons 1,2, 3, and 4) … it isn’t!


2 replies on “October Review: The Magicians (Season 1, 2, 3, and 4)”

  1. The low point is the reason I stopped watching it (about halfway through the first season, if I remember right) – none of characters were likable, though I could almost like Eliot

    • Q fades into the background a bit, at least I didn’t notice him as much, and the rest of the cast seems to continue on despite him. I think it’d be worth getting back into it.

Comments are closed.