Stargate Archives

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Dresden Files TV series rewatch

The Dresden Files started out and still exists as an ongoing series of novels by Jim Butcher. They tell the story of one member of a global magical community who operates in the open, even advertisers himself as a wizard in the Chicago phone book. In this feature length pilot (unaired as such and later edited into an episode) the creators have adapted the first novel "Storm Front" in which Harry Dresden investigates the death of a young woman and a mobster at the behest of Murphy a Chicago cop. Complications arise as Harry finds himself dealing with demons and vampires as well as dodging the cops who he doesn't always tell the whole truth too.

Taken as a comparison to the novel there are some fundamental changes and alas not for the better but perhaps understandable when adapting any book to the small screen. The loss of the character of Marcone and Macs as a focal point for the magical world are quite jarring as is the characterisation of Ancient Mai and Susan Rodriguez. They go into more depth with Harry's uncle Justin then you immediately get in the novel but while he is still shown as a bad guy they never really paint him as black as he was and confuse the issue with his involvement with Harry's mother. Justin's demise is shown in a more simple fashion but it's Harry's intent that is not quite as clear and he is shown as being much older again a decision perhaps made to show Harry not as the scared victim anymore which he really was in the novels.

This pilot which thanks to behind the scenes issues was not aired as the premiere to the series was then edited into the eighth episode and some of it's content spliced into other episodes during the series. When taken as a whole it's weakness in holding true to the novel is evident but that's probably a side effect of the lower budgets the likes of Syfy (Scifi as they were) operate within plus the tighter restrictions on standard and practices. I would really have liked to have seen these novels taken by HBO or Showtime who could invest and treat them in the adult manner they deserve. Alas that wasn't to be and while I think Paul Blackthorne did a magnificent job bringing Harry to life overall the pilot and subsequent series proper always struggled to live up to the wonderful and complex world Jim created.

I grabbed a copy of the pilot off the net as it's not included in the DVD boxset which can still be purchased from the usual DVD sources, it's pretty cheap and if a little supernatural fun and games is your thing I don't think you will be disappointed especially if you are new to the Dresden universe. If you've read the books first (I went from the TV to the books) then maybe steer clear as there is so much licence taken.


TheShayneShow said...

I wasn't aware there was an expanded verion of the pilot, I don't have high hopes for it but I'll have to check it out.

Jarrak said...

I like the series but as you pointed out on ScifiDig it had it's issues, it was made on the cheap and does feel at times rather clunky.