Reviews: The Magicians - Season 1 Episode 6 - Impractical Applications

Magician Mike casts a spell with his review of Impractical Applications. 

I need to see some ID, kids.
This better
not be a Dateline setup. 
With each episode The Magicians sets itself apart as one of the freshest, most interesting shows on TV.  It's clever, well-made and well-acted, displaying a quality one wouldn’t come to expect from a show on the network that gave us Sharknado.  Lev Grossman's intricate storytelling translates well to the format of a TV series, expanding from the books that inspired it in new and exciting ways.  While the last couple of episodes have been pleasant diversions from familiar stories, in this week's episode the plot got back on track with the book, beginning with (and eventually leading into) some of the more interesting events of Quentin's time at Brakebills Academy.

This week we find Quentin, Alice and Penny joining their fellow first year students in The Trials, a trio of magical tasks meant to set the most truly gifted magicians apart from the rest of the group.  Each challenge they face grows more personal, as the students learn more about the complex magic they're performing, and each other.  Meanwhile, Julia's explorations in magic's seedy underbelly lead her to a fellow exiled witch who plots revenge on the people who shut them both out.

Without giving away precise details, the end of the episode hints at one of the more interesting parts of the first book, and one readers have likely been most excited to see presented on screen.  The pacing of the show so far has been excellent.  Sometimes when a book is turned into a series, there's a tendency to bog things down more than is necessary in order to fill the time (particularly when multiple seasons are planned.)  Likewise, a movie adaptation clips along, skipping events considered less relevant to get to the meat of the story, which often means sacrificing important details, or at least beloved ones.   The Magicians find a rare balance not often seen in such adaptations, maintaining a pace that keeps the story moving without getting stale.

Where a lot of TV series spend several episodes or even a full season finding their footing, The Magicians has been consistently good since the first episode and only seems to be getting better.  While it would be easy to explain away simply stating that the material it's based on is strong, it’s the execution that really makes The Magicians a quality show.  The tease at the end of this week's episode hints at the adventures that lie ahead, and we can be confident that these stories are in good, caring hands.

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-Mike Stec