The Magicians (American TV series)
Intertitle from Seasons 1–3
|Based on||The Magicians|
by Lev Grossman
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||41–52 minutes|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||December 16, 2015 –|
The Magicians is an American fantasy television series that airs on Syfy and is based on the novel of the same name by Lev Grossman. Michael London, Janice Williams, John McNamara, and Sera Gamble serve as executive producers. A 13-episode order was placed for the first season in May 2015, and the series premiered on December 16, 2015, as a special preview.
In February 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season of 13 episodes, which premiered on January 23, 2019. In January 2019, Syfy renewed the series for a fifth season.
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.
Cast and characters
- Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater (seasons 1–4), a graduate student. He enrolls at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy to be trained as a magician. A lifelong fan of the Fillory and Further series, he discovers that they are in fact based in truth and pose a danger to his world.
- Ralph also portrays Quentin Coldwater from an alternate timeline, the same timeline as Penny-23. Within this timeline, he takes on the persona of the Beast.
- Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker, Quentin's childhood friend, an Ivy League student who is not admitted to Brakebills, and is recruited by a secret magical society
- Maeve also portrays the Monster at the End of the World's sister inhabiting Julia's body in season 4
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn, a naturally gifted magician whose parents are magicians and who comes from a neglected home life
- Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh, a student at Brakebills and senior to Quentin, with whom he is close friends. He is a heavy drinker. He and Margo are inseparable.
- Appleman also portrays the Monster at the End of the World inhabiting Eliot's body in season 4
- Arjun Gupta as William "Penny" Adiyodi, Quentin's roommate and peer. He is a talented magician who is a telepath and "traveler", someone who can travel between worlds. Despite his brusque demeanor, Penny is loyal to his friends.
- Gupta also plays "Penny-23", an alternate timeline version of Penny who comes to the main timeline
- Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson, equivalent to Janet from the novels. Her name was changed to avoid confusion with other names beginning with "J". She is close friends with Eliot and is very charismatic.
- Rick Worthy as Henry Fogg (season 2–present; recurring season 1), the dean of Brakebills.
- Jade Tailor as Kady Orloff-Diaz (season 2–present; recurring season 1), a tough, rebellious Brakebills student who attracts Penny's attention in and out of the classroom. After she flees Brakebills, she joins a group of magicians led by Richard and befriends Julia.
- Brittany Curran as Fen (season 3–present; recurring season 2), Eliot's Fillorian wife
- Trevor Einhorn as Josh Hoberman (season 3–present; recurring season 2; guest season 1), a former Brakebills student who was one of the members of a group that went missing
- Hannah Levien as Victoria (seasons 1, 3), a traveller and Brakebills student who was one of three survivors of a class trip to Fillory, and becomes a prisoner of the Beast 
- David Call as Pete (seasons 1, 4), one of the confidants who welcome Julia into the clandestine underworld of hedge witches to develop her latent skills. He returns in season 4 and becomes Kady's new lieutenant.
- Michael Cassidy as James (season 1), Julia's boyfriend
- Esmé Bianco as Jane Chatwin (season 1; guest season 3), a character from the Fillory and Further novels who also appears to Quentin, helping to guide him on his magical journey. In the present, under the name Eliza, she had a hand in initiating Quentin's journey into real magic.
- Rose Liston as young Jane Chatwin (season 1; guest season 3)
- Anne Dudek as Pearl Sunderland (seasons 1–2), a teacher at Brakebills and Penny's mentor
- Kacey Rohl as Marina Andrieski, one of the hedge mages who welcome Julia into a clandestine underworld to develop her latent skills. Marina was expelled from Brakebills three months before graduation, and uses Julia to help her regain her memories of what she learned.
- Rohl also portrays "Marina-23", a Marina from an alternate timeline who comes to the main timeline
- Charles Mesure as Martin Chatwin / the Beast (seasons 1–2), Jane and Rupert's brother, and former High King of Fillory. He later resurfaced as the master magician with six fingers who has taken over Fillory and breaks through to Earth. His head is usually magically obscured by a swarm of moths.
- Mackenzie Astin as Richard Corrigan (season 1) and Reynard the Fox (seasons 1–3). Corrigan was a magician and former member of the Free Trader Beowulf. Reynard is a Pagan trickster god and the son of Persephone who took over the body of Corrigan after the latter attempted to summon Persephone at the cost of his life.
- Keegan Connor Tracy as Professor Lipson, a teacher at Brakebills specializing in magical healing. She works in the school's infirmary.
- Garcelle Beauvais as Persephone, better known as Our Lady Underground, a goddess from Julia's dreams
- Mageina Tovah as Zelda Schiff (season 2–present; guest season 1), the head librarian at the Library of the Neitherlands
- Adam DiMarco as Todd (season 2–present; guest season 1), a student at Brakebills. It is revealed in season 4 that his name is actually Eliot and he was forced to go by his middle name due to Eliot Waugh not being willing to share the name.
- Rizwan Manji as Tick Pickwick (season 2–present), a royal advisor
- Arlen Escarpeta as Prince Ess (season 2–3), a handsome, rugged, pelt-clad man and the entitled son of the ruler of Loria
- Christopher Gorham as John Gaines (season 2), a senator who discovers he's in possession of unusual abilities
- Harvey Guillén as Benedict Pickwick (season 2–3), a map-making servant of the court in Fillory and son of Tick Pickwick
- Leonard Roberts as Idri (season 2–3), the King of Loria and Eliot's prospective lover
- Imogen Tear as Shade Julia (season 2), a shade version of Julia's younger counterpart
- Candis Cayne as the Fairy Queen (season 3; guest season 2), who forces Margo into her service after Margo's deal with the fairies
- Marlee Matlin as Harriet Schiff (season 3–present; guest season 2), the head of Fuzzbeat, a clickbait website that surreptitiously provides magical knowledge, and later revealed to be the daughter of the librarian Zelda Schiff
- Dina Meyer as the Stone Queen (season 3), who wants Margo to marry her son
- Felicia Day as Poppy Kline (seasons 3–4), a former Brakebills student whom Quentin comes across in Fillory
- Jaime Ray Newman as Irene McAllistair (season 3), a member of the board of Brakebills who buys the school outright when the loss of magic threatens to close the university
- Madeleine Arthur as Fray (season 3), presented as Eliot and Fen's grown daughter by the Fairy Queen
- Anja Savcic as Skye (season 3), an enslaved fairy
- Daniel Nemes as Gavin (season 3–present), a librarian of the Neitherlands, as well as a "traveler", meaning he can move between words within the multiverse
- Jolene Purdy as Shoshana (season 4), a bright and highly emotional maenad, tasked with tending to notorious party god Bacchus
- Camryn Manheim as Sheila (season 4), a resident magician of Modesto whom Alice befriends and to whom she teaches magic
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||December 16, 2015||April 11, 2016|
|2||13||January 25, 2017||April 19, 2017|
|3||13||January 10, 2018||April 4, 2018|
|4||13||January 23, 2019||April 17, 2019|
Michael London first optioned the books in 2011, intending to develop the show at Fox. X-Men: First Class co-writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz wrote the pilot, but did not get the green light. London then redeveloped the pilot with McNamara and Gamble taking over writing duties, and took the script to Syfy, which ordered a pilot. The pilot, directed by Mike Cahill, was filmed in New Orleans in late 2014 and wrapped in December. Syfy picked up the show for a 13-episode first season, to be aired in 2016. McNamara and Gamble became executive producers.
Series production began on August 4, 2015, in Vancouver, and it was announced that Olivia Taylor Dudley had replaced Sosie Bacon as Alice Quinn. It was also announced that Rick Worthy had been cast as Dean Fogg, Anne Dudek as Professor Sunderland, with Esmé Bianco also cast. Syfy aired an advance commercial-free screening of the first episode on December 16, 2015 ahead of its January 25, 2016 premiere, when it was shown along with the second episode.
The show was renewed for a second season in February 2016, and the second season premiered on January 25, 2017. On April 12, 2017, the series was renewed for a third season of 13 episodes, which premiered on January 10, 2018. On February 28, 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season of 13 episodes, which premiered on January 23, 2019. On January 22, 2019, Syfy renewed the series for a fifth season.
The first season received mixed to positive reviews. On Metacritic, it holds a rating of 60/100, based on 24 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 74% approval rating, based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 6.47/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "The Magicians' impressive special effects and creative storytelling help compensate for a derivative premise and occasionally sluggish pace."
Some critics and fans criticized the show for its brutal depiction of Julia being raped and that the rape gave her extra magical powers. The incident was also criticized because, after Julia remembered the assault, she betrayed her friends by forming an alliance with, and literally embracing, a murderer – who is also a rape survivor. As Lisa Weidenfeld of the AV Club put it: "the show has now suggested that the two victims of sexual assault are its villains".
The second season received positive reviews. On Metacritic, it holds a rating of 74/100, based on 5 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 91% approval rating, based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 8.06/10. The site's consensus reads: "A clearer sense of purpose and extra helpings of cynicism and danger lead The Magicians to a higher level of engagement."
The third season also received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 100% approval rating, based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Surprising and wildly entertaining, The Magicians' third season has more than enough tricks up its sleeve to keep viewers under its spell."
The fourth season initially received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it holds a rating of 81/100, based on 4 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% approval rating, based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 9.04/10. The site's consensus reads: "The Magicians conjures a mind-bending fourth season that reinvigorates the ensemble with heady twists and spellbinding turns – all leavened by the series' signature glib humor." While the season started with a 100% score, reception became more mixed in the second half. The finale was not well received by some fans, who mainly criticized the romanticization of suicidal ideation that was displayed but also the treatment of marginalized groups.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||Avg. viewers
|1||Monday 9:00 pm||13||December 16, 2015||0.92||April 11, 2016||0.68||0.78||0.29|
|2||Wednesday 9:00 pm||13||January 25, 2017||1.29||April 19, 2017||0.67||0.79||0.31|
|3||13||January 10, 2018||0.78||April 4, 2018||0.66||0.71||0.27|
|4||13||January 23, 2019||0.61||April 17, 2019||0.50||0.54||0.19|
Awards and nominations
|2016||Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Magicians||Nominated|||
|2017||Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Magicians||Nominated|||
|2018||Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Magicians||Nominated|||
|UBCP/ACTRA Awards||Best Actress||Keegan Connor Tracy||Nominated|||
|2019||Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Magicians||Nominated|||
Home media release
The first season of The Magicians was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 19, 2016, in Region 1. The release included all thirteen episodes, as well as multiple special features, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, "The World of The Magicians" featurette, and UltraViolet digital copies. The first season was made available to stream on Netflix on December 26, 2016.
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