New Syfy show ‘Magicians’ is abraca-drab-ra

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What do you get when you throw in a bit of Hogwarts, a smattering of Narnia, a heavy dose of “Alphas,” and just that slight touch of “Charmed?” The Syfy channel’s latest offering — “The Magicians” — based on the book of the same name by Lev Grossman.

The premise is okay. A nerdy 20-something named Quentin Coldwater who doesn’t seem to fit in with the real world lives in the fantasy book land of Fillaroy and must find his true nature and defeat the beast. Ho hum.

Quentin is on the way to a Princeton interview with BFF Julia when he stumbles upon a dead body and a manuscript — the sixth book in a series of books he is obsessed with. Oh my!

He has words with BFF Julia and they each go their separate ways. But lo and behold, both magically find their way to Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy and are tested to find out their magic quotient. Sadly Julia washes out. What a surprise.

All in the background is the school’s head master, who looks very much like Professor Dumbledore but without the long beard and robe (instead opting for a more conservative sport-coat-and-slacks look). He meets with a mysterious woman who looks very much like Professor McGonagall (also without a robe and hat) in a park in Manhattan, and they discuss the perils that face and how Quentin figures into the whole equation.

“But are they ready?” they ask.

Julia, on the other hand, is angry about washing out, but she finds someone who wants to tap into her magic. After some gory, magic juju with a dead body, (the inferious curse anyone?) and a hop in a freezer, the mystery man introduces her to a higher-level magician, who I presume on the basis of the episode to be as evil as “He Who Must Not Be Named.” And so it goes.

At Brakebills, Quentin meets a host of other chic, 20-something magicians who help or hinder his way. (I haven’t fully sussed their ulterior motives yet). In either event, (spoiler alert here so look away if you must) the beast comes, the head master has his eyes gouged, (gory scene number two), Quentin faces expulsion, and the plot thickens.

Syfy was kind enough to put the first two episodes back to back to set the stage, and at this point, even though I have no overwhelming desire to view this wanna-be Harry Potter of a series, I am on the fence about setting the digital recorder to Monday night.

Does Quentin beat the beast? Does Julia go to the dark side? Do the trendy hipster magicians that befriend Quentin become his Ron Weasly, Hermonie Granger, and Neville Longbottom? Only 11 more episodes (and the gods of Syfy know) for sure.

Not for Nuthin™, but I wish I had a little magic of my own — then I could let you know which are the best and worst ad spots for Superbowl 50 next week and where the Vince Lombardy trophy will reside. Oh well, I guess you just have to wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on E-mail her at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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