Continuing the network’s recent push for original scripted programming, including miniseries Ascension and an upcoming adaptation of the sci-fi classic 12 Monkeys, Syfy has ordered a pilot episode for The Magicians, a series based on Lev Grossman’s bestselling modern fantasy trilogy.
Excitingly, that episode is being written by John McNamara (Prime Suspect) and Sera Gamble (Supernatural), who seem on paper like the perfect team to combine the magical aspects of The Magicians with its urban backdrop in modern Brooklyn. Grossman’s trilogy focused on a group of twentysomething college students who, while studying magic at the prestigious Brakebills Academy, learn that the fantastical forces they read about as children are both real and endangering their entire world.
I loved how Grossman’s novel combined thrilling magic sequences straight out of Harry Potter with the more bittersweet and realistic aspects of being a college student on the precipice of accepting adulthood. Love, sex, depression, dissatisfaction and revelations of mortality are all present in the book’s cast of characters, and that injection of real life made The Magicians both unique and deeply interesting as a fantasy series.
The Magicians was originally planned as a Fox series, with X-Men: First Class and Thor writers Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz. However, that fell through the cracks in February of 2012 in the wake of the expensive sci-fi series Terra Nova‘s failure, prompting a disheartening blog post by Grossman.
News that producer London has successfully shopped the series to Syfy is very exciting indeed. Now that a pilot has been ordered, and a cast will start to fall into place, the series is closer to airing than it has ever been before. And if the writers capture the sprawling and immersive spirit of The Magicians, as I expect writers of McNamara and Gamble’s caliber will have no problem doing, audiences are in for a real treat.