Spellbinding fantasy 'A Discovery of Witches' confirms why the genre is pure magic for viewers
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Long gone are the days when fantasy offerings were most prominent on the big screen, with a handful of offerings available on the small screen.
Streaming platforms have changed the game. The genre is not only popular but it’s also one of the most sought-after, which explains the proliferation of offerings.
I recently binged on seasons one and two of “A Discovery of Witches”, which is on the “All Souls Trilogy” by Deborah Harkness, on Showmax.
In this world where vampires, witches and daemons live among regular people, romances between the different orders are discouraged.
The leads in the series are Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop and Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont.
While Diana is a witch, she’s been reluctant to follow in the footsteps of those before her. But the tenured historian has no choice when she discovers a bewitched manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
The magical rift is felt by all orders, who want to get a hold of this sought-after book. Matthew, a vampire as well as biochemistry professor, is among those who seek Diana out.
And so begins their journey of forbidden romance and time travel.
In a recent interview with Goode, who will be in the upcoming “Downton Abbey: A New Era” movie, he unpacked the two seasons.
He said: “In season one, Diana was a bit of a victim of circumstance. In season two, she’s a lot smarter and, as a historian, she thrives on going back in time.
“Diana also steps up in the relationship, looking after Matthew mentally because he starts to lose himself. It becomes a proper marriage based on equality.”
At the end of episode one, Matthew and Diane are left with no choice but to go back in time to retrieve the Book of Life, which, should it fall into the wrong hands, could mark the end of vampires.
In the second season, Matthew is reunited with his father Philippe (James Purefoy).
Goode explained: “The relationship between Philippe and Matthew is a tricky one. It was Ysabeau who sired Matthew many moons ago, but Philippe fathered him in a very masculine way.”
On his co-star Palmer, he shared: “Teresa is the show’s beating heart. She’s my best bud on this and we spend all our time together. If they said they’re going to bring another actor in, it wouldn’t work.
“It’s one big travelling caravan of Australian/American love. She came back with the fire to push her character and it’s made a big difference.”
The cliffhanger ending hints at a possible third season.
“A Discovery of Witches” is bolstered by an incredible cast, with strong anchors representing the different orders.
Amid the power struggles, family feuds, hidden agendas and secrets, Diana’s “birth” as a powerful witch, ensures the viewer is equally invested in her transition and love story.
Below are other enchanting offerings worthy of bingeing on:
SHADOW AND BONE (Netflix)
Based on Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy, this series is a combination of “Shadow and Bone” as well as “Six of Crows”.
Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) is a Grisha. She also has a rare gift to control light, which is required to destroy the Shadow Fold. During a dangerous journey through the fold, Alina and those with her are attacked by Volcra.
A power-hungry General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), who is the leader of the Second Army and the Shadow Summoner, finds her and takes her to the little palace in East Rava, where she is spruced up to meet King Pytor.
Meanwhile, her childhood friend tries to find her while, in Ketterdam, the thieving Crows gang – Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands (Freddy Carter), who is the leader of the Crows, Inej Ghafa aka Wraith (Amita Suman) as well as Zemeni sharpshooter Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) – are hired to find Alina by a mob-boss.
This series about intertwined destinies has plenty of action and the drama is underpinned by humour.
HIS DARK MATERIALS (Showmax)
This is a fantasy drama television series based on the novel series of the same name by Philip Pullman. Showmax has seasons one and two available, and the series has been renewed for a third and final season.
“His Dark Materials” operates in a multi-world universe.
Lyra is at the heart of the narrative. In season one, she is an orphan scholar at Jordan College, Oxford. It is governed by the Magisterium.
Her curiosity, however, propels her to embark on a journey where unbeknown to her at the time, she’s been prophesied to change the world by witches.
In her world, souls manifest as shape-shifting daemons (animal companions).
During her investigations into a mysterious substance called Dust, she learns of another prophecy intertwined with hers and it involves Will from the real world.
Since the disappearance of his father, he’s been taking care of his paranoid mother. But now some mysterious figures have been chasing him and, as such, he ends up hiding in Lyra’s world.
This series has a stellar cast.