Thoughts On The Dresden Files

So, I finally manged to watch the first episode of SciFi’s adaptation of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, called The Dresden Files. My first reaction? ‘Meh’. Seriously, there wasn’t too much here to get excited about. A lot of the fun in reading the books is in Butcher’s writing, as Harry describes the action, the scenes and what he’s thinking. That doesn’t translate well to TV, and it shows. Apart from one scene between Harry and Murphy in the diner (Murphy: “Tell me the first thought in your head”. Harry: “The first thought? My car’s still booted.”), The rest of the episode didn’t feel like a Dresden story.

Maybe that’s because the producers ‘had’ to make some creative changes to make it work for television. Now, I can understand changes to switch from first-person to third-person, but they changed the entire backstory of Harry, his childhood, relationship with his Mother, and current status with the Council. And it’s not even close. By making these changes, they have changed the Dresden character dramatically from the books, thus ensuring that the writers will have to rely on their own ideas for future shows, and not use the books as source. I really don’t see the reason why such wholesale changes were needed. The stories, as written, would make great TV. SciFi had the opportunity to do HBO one better. They could have taken each book, and made 3 or 4 episodes out of each one. That would give them at least 2 SciFi seasons worth of episodes, and given Butcher more time to write more books. Plus, SciFi would have done something that hasn’t really been done before. Alas, it was not meant to be.

The other thing that really bugged me was Bob. Bob, in the books, is a snarky, sarcastic elemental/demon who really enjoys living it up, when he gets the chance. In the show, they changed Bob into this pompous, pretentious character who thinks he’s constantly performing as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Just stop, please. Bob is funny. Bob isn’t King Lear.

I’d rate The Dresden Files as a 2 out of 5. The pilot really didn’t have enough time to flesh out much of the characters. Maybe the show will get better. For now, its part of my weekly DVR rotation, but that will change in a hurry if it doesn’t improve.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts On The Dresden Files”

  1. I would also rate it a “Meh”, though I am not bothered by the divergence from the book since I have not read them.] The show just didn’t do much for me besides raise a lot of questions that I have no inclination to stick around to have answered.

  2. I watched my TIVO’d version of the show after missing it live because of the Pats/Colts game. I’m a big fan of the Jim Butcher books. While I can understand some of the desire to have it allign with the books, not only is it unrealistical, it’s probably technically impossible in some cases.

    I had no trouble still getting the mood of the books in that show, and I think Paul Blackthorne had a lot to do with that. The dark and clever feeling is there, and I expect it to be even more prominent as the show wades into the water.

  3. Watched the show 2 days ago. I tend to agree with James Miller’s comment. I love the books and the show is not great but it isn’t very bad also. I’m sure they’ll get better over time. Also before watching it I’d heard Jim Butcher mentionned again and again that the series was only BASED on his books but were not actually his books. Maybe that explains my feeling towards the first episode. The series and the books will follow, apparently, different story lines at some point.

  4. I haven’t had a chance to see it until tonight, with the “American Werewolf in America” episode.

    Caveat, I haven’t read the books, but I did pick up a couple of them today. The episode was enjoyable. I think that if it is given a chance to survive it could build up to be as detailed as the books. But will the SkiiFiii Channel give it a chance?

    It brought back memories of a Gene Roddenberry pilot for a show called Spectre. Wish I could see that one again. Good stuff that never had a second chance.

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