Friday, April 26, 2013

The Dresden Files on TV

This is a late entry into the list of shows that deserved another season.  I just finished re-watching the 12 episodes of this short-lived television show based on Jim Butcher's Dresden Files book series.  I was surprised to see that this just aired in 2007-2008 - I feel like my first watch was eons ago, maybe back in the early part of this century:)  I enjoyed the second re-watch and found myself wanting more at the conclusion.

The show is based somewhat loosely on the Dresden Files books having more of an "inspired by" feel but not straying too far.  It follows the adventures of Harry Dresden a self-proclaimed Wizard for Hire working out of Chicago. He's basically a magic-yielding PI of the hard-boiled variety.  He takes on independent cases but his steadiest income comes from serving as a consultant on the less explainable of the Chicago PD's cases.  He is most frequently brought on to consult by Lieutenant Connie Murphy, a hard working, lives-for-the-job cop who nonetheless trusts Dresden's results even when she doesn't always understand them.  Because Harry doesn't live in a world where the supernatural is recognized and accepted - it's Chicago just as it is today - so Harry walks a tightrope, with most people believing he's a crazy crackpot. 

It had some problems - the tone was uneven and indecisive and it never really quite came together to be addictive enough for a weekly audience. Essentially, it never quite captured the action packed fun of the books. I think part of the problem is that the books aren't exactly...emotionally complex...their strength were the interesting characters, particularly Dresden, and the nonstop action.  The show sort of skated between these two elements - i.e. having a little more emotional complexity then the books but not nearly as much action - It couldn't decide to commit either way and so ended up being a little blah.   But it had potential and I'm not sure it was really given a chance to find its footing.  Plus its hard to imagine that these books could not make a kick ass television series.

It also had some good things going for it.  I can't quite remember but I think I actually watched the show before reading the books  Which is maybe why Paul Blackthorne and Valerie Cruz embody Dresden and Murphy for me.  It is also probably why I was disappointed there wasn't more "context" between Murphy and Dresden in the books unlike the show. What?! I can't help it, I'm a girl. 
Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden

Valerie Cruz as Lieutenant Connie Murphy
 I also liked some of the other changes the show made to the books like having Bob be a more corporeal character rather than just a talking skull.  And as I mentioned I appreciated the attempt at adding some emotional complexity.  After all it inspired me to pick up the books and I've gone on to read most of the series.

So I hope someday they try again and hit it just right this time.  I think it deserves a second chance.  What do you think?  Any Dresden Files - books or show - fans out there?   

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