The new season of The Magicians starts up Wednesday on Syfy, and season two promises its usual batch of otherworldly offerings—including a dragon toward the latter half of the season. The dragon isn’t quite like those seen on, say, Game of Thrones. “This one talks,” says John McNamara, who runs the show alongside Sera Gamble. “He’s rather opinionated and cranky.”
The series, based on the book trilogy by Lev Grossman, is about a group of twentysomethings at a secret New York school for magic called Brakebills. Jason Ralph plays the lead, a student named Quentin Coldwater.
Comparisons to Harry Potter are common, and the Magicians producers don’t dispute them. Grossman reportedly started writing the first book because he was tired of watching for the next Potter release.
McNamara says the dragon is but “one of many mythological beasts” to turn up this season, including a sloth (he too talks) and the White Lady, which Syfy describes as “not quite creature, not quite human.”
You might catch the White Lady at the Hall of Magic in New York City. It’s a Magicians-inspired interactive magic exhibit that organizers call “a social media utopia, featuring visually stunning and interactive installations where you can take and share photos, videos and GIFs of magic all around you.” The exhibit goes on through Jan. 29 at the William Vale in Brooklyn.
Season two sees the main characters transported to the magical kingdom of Fillory, where they are named kings and queens and still have the fearsome Beast from last season to contend with.
Grossman’s books are The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land. Gamble and McNamara say they jump around a bit from book to book, grabbing some key pieces of the third novel for the new season. “There’s a ton left over,” says Gamble.
Gamble says she previously worked on a show that was in constant jeopardy of being canceled, yet persisted. So she doesn’t predict how many seasons The Magicians will run. Should they run out of book material, she and McNamara quip that they’ll tie Grossman to a chair and get him to pen a few more.
Grossman, for his part, remains very involved in the TV series. “He reads every script, looks at every cut,” says McNamara. “He’s got very good, very strong ideas about how to portray aspects of the book.”
Universal Cable Productions produces the show. along with McNamara and Gamble, exec producers are Henry Alonso Myers and Groundswell Productions' Michael London and Janice Williams.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.