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The Age of Magic

By Alyssa Rosenberg

"The Age of Magic"

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I have not been super-impressed by NBC’s forays into the superheroic, but I am tentatively excited about the Ronald D. Moore-helmed show the network has ordered. It sounds like a smart expansion of Harry Potter concepts, about cops working in a world governed by magic. I like the idea of science fiction creators working on magical projects—I tend to think they’re more likely to think about rules governing the universes they create, and to try to abide by them.
But more importantly, I’d love a world in which we have more high-quality magical shows and movies. Obviously, I think HBO’s version of A Game of Thrones is promising in this regard: it’s a sophisticated, well-developed magical world where magic is an amoral force useful for more than love. Similarly, Moore’s show is set entirely in a world where magic rules rather than straddling an uncomfortable boundary between the magic and non-magical worlds, focusing far too heavily on the one character who can navigate in both, and is far too likely to become a proxy for the viewer. Though I didn’t like the book, this actually all makes me want to see a more vigorous and intelligently plotted show, or graphic novel, or something set in the world of Jonthan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I thought was an unfortunate waste of universe-building.
I don’t particularly have a preference for magical story-telling over science fiction: I think both can be equally powerful when done with the proper rigor and attention to detail and consistent approach to rules. But we’ve been a bit heavy on the science fiction and superheroes for a while, and our magic’s either been highly assimilated into the human world or misdirected into the service of inane love stories like TwilightHarry Potter is a hard act to follow, but it should have been an inspiration, rather than something so overwhelming that it shut down the creative process.

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