There's a new SyFy series based the book The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I really like the book and enjoyed the first two episodes (which are available for free on SyFy's app). Here are some things I think the show got right. (Show and book spoilers, but not too much)
  1. Quentin Coldwater
    He's a tough character. He's awkward, self-centered, and pretty much a jerk. However, people don't like to root for protagonists they don't like. Grossman was able to make Quentin relatable enough to make him likable and the show does as well. They were able to make him someone to root for without glossing over his flaws.
  2. Julia's journey
    This was one of my favorite parts of the book series. I love seeing what happens to a person who finds out there's a magical world but someone decides they aren't good enough to be a part of it. The show dives into her character arc in the first episode and it was a smart choice to make it a parallel journey to Quentin's.
  3. Fillory
    This place walks the line between being enchanting and ominous, some midpoint between Narnia and Wonderland. Also, British school children can quickly go from charming to sinister.
  4. Mature content
    I don't need gratuitous mature content, but just enough makes the world believable. SyFy is able to sneak in some profanity and violence that network TV cannot and it really adds a level to reality to the world. Would The Beast be as frightening if you couldn't see him pluck out the Dean's eyes? Would young 20-somethings really talk without saying shit and fuck (the latter is used but the audio is censored)?
  5. Special effects
    TV shows tend to lose me when the special effects aren't up to par. This show doesn't try to be too ambitious and the special effects they use work very effectively. It will be interesting to see how they handle some of the more elaborate scenes to come, maybe they are saving up their budget for the big stuff.
  6. The Beast
    He was just as terrifying as I was hoping. The book introduced him as an unstoppable force of nature and the show follows suit. The obscured face, strange hand and finger movements, and casual disregard for life all make him perfectly unsettling and creepy.