What's Worth Watching: Strange Magic

Matt Roush
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Morell
BBC America

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Morell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, "The Friends of English Magic" (Saturday, June 13, 10/9c, BBC America)

With opulent and dark enchantment, this fantastical seven-part miniseries adaptation of Susanna Clarke's 2004 epic novel imagines a 19th-century England in need of the lost arts of magic to fend off Napoleon's army. Thankfully, there's at least one "practical magician" schooled in these most marvelous gifts: the dour, anti-social and very learned Mr. Norrell (Ray Donovan's Eddie Marsan), who rails against charlatans and declares, "I'm not a performing monkey." But a prophecy suggests that magic will be restored to England, after a three-century absence, by two magicians. And Mr. Norrell is not in the least amused to learn of the ascendance of Jonathan Strange (the charming Bertie Carvel), a more impulsive and impetuous novice from the countryside who lacks Norrell's control of his talents and offers to be apprenticed to the hermetic master. Can these two very different practitioners unite their wizardry and use their magic for good? Whatever happens, Ye Olde England will never be quite the same.