The Magicians became a best-selling novel in 2009 after gaining a reputation as "Harry Potter with sex and drugs." Now, Lev Grossman's fantasy world — which replaces Butterbeers and Quidditch with drug-fueled cheating and disillusioned depression — is headed to the small screen: Fox announced Thursday that it will adapt The Magicians into a drama series to air next year. The novel centers around Quentin Coldwater, a college student at a Hogwarts-like magic school in upstate New York who later plows through drugs in Manhattan before finding his way into the Narnia-like fantasy land of Fillory. Will The Magicians be a Potter-like success — or TV's next fantasy flop?
The writers have real potential: The project's writers are responsible for summer 2011's only two superhero films worth watching, Thor and X-Men: First Class, says Angie Han at Slash Film. Encouragingly, they're versed in television, too, having scripted critically-praised sci-fi series like Fringe and Andromeda. "The pair clearly know a thing or two about mixing out-there elements with more traditional drama, which bodes well for The Magicians."
"X-Men: First Class writers to adapt fantasy novel The Magicians for Fox"
And TV is the right home for The Magicians: Sometimes it's better for books to forego the big screen and head straight to TV, says Tyler Coates at Black Book. Just look at True Blood, Game of Thrones, and HBO's upcoming adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. TV really works for multi-part series like The Magicians (a sequel, The Magician King, was released in August). Instead of having to cram an entire book's plot into a two-hour flick, the small screen allows for subtler, slower character development.
"Lev Grossman's The Magicians heads to the small screen"
Fine. But enough fantasy already: Can we officially suspend the search for "a Harry Potter for adults?" asks Sean O'Neal at The A.V. Club. The fairy tale dramas Grimm and Once Upon a Time will debut this TV season, and next year is already threatening not only The Magicians but a Beauty and the Beast reboot and a slew of other fantasy projects. At this point, a raft of "nice, down-to-earth shows about lawyers" would seem novel.
"Lev Grossman's The Magicians to become Fox series"
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