Among the many fantasy-inflected TV shows that have been picked up in the networks’ ongoing quest to find the right “Harry Potter for adults” skein for adults who pretend as though they’re too sophisticated for actual Harry Potter, the Fox adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was among the most promising—if only because it’s actually been called a “Harry Potter for adults,” and because unlike some of its competitors, it has a storyline beyond “What if some public domain characters and then some cops and then etc.?” Unfortunately, that very ambition seems to have doomed it to failure, as Grossman himself has now reported the news that Fox ultimately decided to pass on the show.
While Grossman admits he wasn’t given any specific explanation as to why, “it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it has something to do with Terra Nova not doing as well as Fox hoped,” he says, “so they weren’t anxious to go for another high-profile, high-concept, expensive genre show.” Although, even he acknowledges that’s “just speculation.” (“I can’t imagine The Magicians would have been as expensive as Terra Nova,” he adds. “For one thing there aren’t half as many acceraptors in it.”) For what it’s worth, Grossman says that he’s still planning to pursue a Magicians adaptation, either as a feature film or on a cable network—which, given that it features plenty of violence, sex, nudity, drug abuse, and unlikeable protagonists, seems like a better fit anyway. Perhaps if HBO hasn’t already had its fill of fantasy stories interspersed with such things, it could take a chance? After all, it’s based on a book, and HBO likes books.