on August 8, 2007
I love the Dresden Files and was shocked to hear it hadn't been renewed for a second season. To add insult to this injury, when I received my DVD set, I found out that they hadn't ordered the series (which ran out of sequence) on the DVDs. A suggested viewing order would be as follows:
Storm Front (espisode 8) is #1
Rules of Engagement (episode 4) is #2
Birds of a Feather (episode 1) is #3
The Boone Identity (episode 2) is #4
Hair of the Dog (episode 3) is #5
Walls (episode 7) is #6
Bad Blood (episode 5) is #7
Soul Beneficiary (episode 6) is #8
What about Bob? (episode 10) is #9
The Other Dick (episode 9) is #10
Things that go Bump (episode 11) is #11
Second City (episode 12) is #12
I'd planned to watch them in sequence in anticipation of the new season, now I'll watch them in sequence to enjoy a series that ended much too soon. Thank goodness I still have the books!
After Buffy went off the air, and then Charmed, I despaired of finding a supernatural show with quality writing and great plots. My prayers were answered by the Scifi network with this awesome show.
I was already a fan of the book series and this show does an excellent job of adapting the stories written by Jim Butcher. Like in Charmed, magic exists but regular people don't know about it. Harry Dresden is the only Wizard P.I. in the phone book. Most think he's a crack pot, but some know he is their only hope. He works as a consultant to the police via Det. Murphy on those cases considered bizarre. Along the way there are werewolf serial killers, vampire club owners, and innocents that need to be protected.
The show doesn't overdo the special effects, rather using them less frequently but with greater impact. Which is actually in keeping with the books. Harry is faithfully recreated and played by Paul Blackstone. And then there is Bob. The portrayal of Bob is one of those rare instances where a book character has been drastically changed, but in a good way. In the books he is an incorporeal spirit residing in a skull. This is fine in the books where a reader's imagination is boosting the concept, but would not translate well to TV. Producers cleverly decided to make him a human-looking ghost with a dry wit and snappy dialog. They did it so well, Bob quickly became my favorite character!
If you like fantasy or scifi shows, get the Dresden Files. And when you can't get enough of Harry, get the books.
on May 22, 2007
Given the shakey start from having episodes juxtaposed in viewing order this season really took off with a bang! After watching just the first episode it intrigued me enough to want to go out and buy the whole series of books by Jim Butcher and I was not disappointed. Absolute page turners mixed with great characters, sly wit, wicked sarcasm, fantastic magic, and of course -- Bob! I really like how the TV show transformed the simple talking skull into a viewable character, played by none other than the superbly casted, Terrance Mann. And of course Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden was a brilliant decision. He has managed to capture Harry's self-depracating humor, sarcasm, and flair for drama and magic along with his vulnerable side and inevitable confrontation with the forces of evil. If you enjoy the books you will love the great adaptation they have done on bringing the world of the Dresden Files to life on screen. Given they showed the original pilot out of order as Episode 8 and trimmed down to 40 minutes from the original 2 hours, I can't wait to see the bonus features on this disc! A wizard detective in modern day Chicago... what else could you ask for?
Imagine if Harry Potter grew up to be Philip Marlowe, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what "The Dresden Files" is like.
While it starts weakly -- and is rarely faithful to Jim Butcher's novels -- "The Dresden Files" manages to whip itself into a solid supernatural-mystery series, with a pretty good cast and some genuinely twisty-turny mysteries. And, of course, a snarky ghost living inside a skull.
Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is Chicago's only wizard-for-hire, with a tragic past, a hockey-stick staff, and a companion spirit named Bob who lives in a skull (Terrence Mann). He's also perpetually in bad with the wizard council, and moderately famous among the supernatural crowds lurking around Chicago.
As the series opens, Harry is approached by a young boy who claims he's being stalked by otherworldly forces -- and his mother confirms that he's been followed by blackbirds, crows and ravens ever since he was born. Even worse, a skinned body is found in a nearby apartment -- and the malevolent skinwalker who stole the woman's dermis may be after the boy as well.
Arguably the premiere is the weakest of the series, since there's little actual detecting going on. But things perk up in the following episodes. Harry tackles a hellspawn in love, a serial killer murdering werewolves, a bodysnatching murderer, a fertility clinic with a dark secret, a bunch of young thieves using deadly magic, and an attempt to frame Bianca, the sultry vampire club-owner.
Things get even worse when Harry is trapped with a bunch of hostile wizards inside a deadly cloud, which can only have been conjured by one of them. And when Bob is stolen, Harry finds himself confronting his cruel uncle Justin -- whom Harry "self-defensed to death" five years ago.
"The Dresden Files" are only loosely based on the Jim Butcher novels -- it's not as dark or as complex, and a lot of characters are changes. But take it as its own animal, and it ends up being a very solid detective series... albeit one where the suspects and victims just happen to be vampires, devils, lycanthropes, incubi and necromancers.
The plots are genuinely mysterious and gritty, sometimes with genuinely surprising answers, and odd twists on typical urban-fantasy, like vampire junkies. The stories are kept from being too grim by Bob, who provides some witty dialogue to offset the cop-style stuff ("And you wonder why your life is an unending series of insurmountable intellectual, financial and emotional hurdles!").
If the series has a problem, it's that sometimes they overuse the handheld camera, especially in fight scenes. And the CGI ranges from decent (Bianca's vampire transformations) to somewhat hokey (dragon, werewolves), but not bad considering.
Blackthorne is just right for the role: quirky, likable, and a little bit charming. Mann makes a brilliant foil as a damned ghost, who provides hilarious, slightly pervy information for every occasion, and Conrad Coates is good as the rigid Morgan, who is just waiting for a chance to behead Harry. Unfortunately Valerie Cruz is far too dewy-eyed to make a convincing hardcore cop -- she's completely eclipsed by the hilarious Claudia Black in "Other Dick."
The first season of the "Dresden Files" has its flaws, but it's still an enjoyable, suspenseful urban fantasy series that gives a new spin to the lone-wolf detective. Definitely worth watching.
Well there is good new and bad news for fans of Harry Dresden. The good news is that the complete first season of the Sci-Fi Channel TV show is now on DVD. The bad news is that it looks like it will be the ONLY season on DVD. The dim-witted executives of the network have evidently decided to cancel the series after just one season. Apparently they need more room on their schedule for Star Trek reruns, professional wrestling, and movies about giant snakes and bugs. Let me get this straight...Dresden is canceled after one season yet we get a second season of Who Wants to be a Superhero? This is why the Sci-Fi channel continues to be the most under-performing network in existence.
This three-disc set contains all twelve episodes and a smattering of special features. The show is based on a very successful series of fantasy/mystery novels by Jim Butcher. Set in Chicago, Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is a wizard-for-hire...you can even find him in the Yellow Pages. This is an urban landscape populated by vampires, werewolves, demons, and both good and evil wizards. Dresden is frequently called on for assistance by beautiful police lieutenant Connie Murphy (Valerie Cruz), to help solve bizarre cases that deal with the supernatural. Murphy is a skeptic, but she also knows that Dresden gets results. Harry is frequently aided and advised by the spirit of a long deceased wizard named Bob (Terrence Mann), who normally resides inside his own skull, which Harry owns.
The TV series doesn't get into as much detail as the books of course, but some of Butcher's various factions do find their way into the show such as the White Council, or High Council, who is the governing body for wizards in the world. There are also various groups of rival vampire clans such as the Red Court and Black Court.
In the pilot episode, "Birds of a Feather", a middle-school boy wants to hire Harry because he thinks that monsters are after him. Harry dismisses it as a kid's over-active imagination. However, when Murphy calls in Harry to help with a murder case of a woman skinned alive, Harry realizes the boy's claims were no joke.
"Storm Front" is based on Butcher's first novel of the same name. A pair of lovers are found dead with their hearts ripped from their chests. Exploded out of their chests is more accurate and Harry knows only one thing could have done this...black magic. The High Council suspects that Harry is the murderer and sends their chief Warden Morgan to keep an eye on him. Harry has to find out who committed the murders and how before the crime is pinned on him. This was the only book in the series that I've actually read and although it's a very condensed version, I thought it was a very strong adaptation of the book.
In "Bad Blood", the beautiful vampire nightclub owner, Bianca, comes to Harry for help after an attempt is made on her life. She thinks the High Council is responsible. When the Council's assassination squad is wiped out, they blame Bianca and Harry finds himself trapped between the two parties with no hope of compromise.
I've mentioned only a handful of the episodes but there really isn't a bad episode in the dozen. Those who have read all the books may pick apart some of the details but one has to allow for poetic license for TV. Paul Blackthorne is superb as Harry because he isn't your typical, pretty boy leading man. He plays the character in reserved fashion, staying within the role and never chewing scenery. That is reserved for Terrence Mann whose dry sarcasm provides some comic relief as the spirit, Bob. This is a show that would have had very strong appeal to fans of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel, had Sci-Fi given it a bit more time. Truly a shame.
REVIEWED BY TIM JANSON
on November 10, 2007
I wasn't a fan of Butcher's Dresden books. I thought they were clumsily written and uninspired. So when I first heard of The Dresden Files TV show, I thought, "I'll pass."
When I bought a new iPod and visited the iTunes store to see what I could download, I saw The Dresden Files. This time I thought, "It's only $1.99 for the first episode. Why not?"
I watched it in bed one night, my little ear buds in and the iPod screen about six inches from my face. I was mesmerized. Something about the show really clicked with me.
The next morning I told my wife about it. "I know you're going to think I'm nuts, but I really liked The Dresden Files. I watched and episode last night. It was compelling and well acted. It had an air of magic about it, and not because it's a show about a wizard who has a shop in Chicago."
We found The Dresden Files DVD set at a local store and bought it.
For the last couple of weeks, we've watched an episode a night, totally engrossed. Completely hooked.
We haven't seen a show this well done in many years. It's on par with LOST for its believable, smart, witty characters. It's on par with Buffy the Vampire Slayer for its otherworldly milieu.
Everything about the show, from its setting in Chicago (actually filmed in Toronto, but it looks like Chicago, one of my favorite cities) to its hapless lead character, a wizard named Harry Dresden, to its cast of fascinating supporting characters (Bob, the ghost who lives in his skull, Murphy, the attractive but smart police woman, and many others) is first-rate. This is an extraordinary television series.
Which can only mean one thing: It got canceled.
Apparently, the morons at the Sci-Fi Channel didn't pick up the series for a second season. I'm not even sure it was given the chance to have a complete first season since there are only 12 episodes in this DVD set. Why a network wouldn't want a show this exceptional is beyond me.
But The Dresden Files is in very good company. Consider Firefly, the brilliant sci-fi Western created by Joss Whedon. FOX was the moronic network that time, dropping it after less than 14 episodes. or consider Carnivale, the jaw-dropping series axed by HBO after two seasons.
I've never figured out why networks are so stupid. They complain ad revenues are down, along with viewership. Yet, they cancel the shows that are the most well done and best loved. It makes no sense at all. I wish I could be in charge of a network, just for a week. I wouldn't ax any shows. I'd ax the axers, get rid of every MBA bean-counting suit who wouldn't know a well-made show if it drove up next to his Bimmer at a stop light.
Anyway, The Dresden Files is superb. The dialog is witty. The characters are the most "real" and believable I've ever seen in a TV series. And the stories are compelling.
I can't recommend The Dresden Files highly enough. Please do yourself a favor and buy the DVD set of the first season before it's out of print.
on May 30, 2007
I've been a Dresden fan for years, having read the books by Jim Butcher and a couple of short stories. To say that I was thrilled that SciFi made the series is being mild. While there are inconsistencies in the show, (Lt. Murphy in the book is blonde and her first name is Karryn, while on TV she is a brunette, Hispanic named Connie to mention but one), they have not yet been overly irksome. Paul Blackthorne does a great job of portraying Harry's self-dreprecating self of humor and is close to my mental image of Harry that I've formed over the years. I think the series will continue to build a fan base, if SciFi gives it a chance, and could lead into a big-screen version of one of the novels! I truly hope that SciFi gives this show a chance to flourish as they have other programs. The Dresden Files is an intellectual program that requires its viewers to think while they are enjoying the show. Television at large is almost bereft of shows with these qualities!
on October 27, 2011
My wife and I randomly stumbled upon The Dresden Files a few months ago and couldn't believe how well-done these episodes are. The first one was quite good, and the rest were even better. The cancellation of the show after only one season was a travesty.
on August 9, 2007
True to the spirit of the books, and a great band-aid for those of us that really wanted Sci-FI to do the right thing and keep it going for at least one more season. Actors are true to the characters from the books. I am so going to miss Bob! ~
And To Bryan from VA: a rousing "I have to Disagree"
You can't blame the inconsistencies on the series. It was the network that made the bonehead decision to show them out of order. Did you actually read all of the books? Did you grasp the spirit of the books? The series as written provides a spirit well suited to be "adapted" to a tv series. But that's just what it is: an adaptation, that continues the base storyline. As far as the production values go, you can't expect that many special effects from a series that is based in a noir world. It would be a dishonor to the spirit of Books. Harry isn't about flashy special effects, he's about doing the right thing in a world were doing the wrong thing is so much easier. The TV writing is close to pure noir detective pulp, as are the books. Consequently, compare this to Firefly (which coincedentally got cancelled, too), not Eureka or BG (we are not going to even mention the differences in budget). This series was not meant to BE the actual stories in the books, more what might have happened in the in-between months. The only real resemblance was the episode filmed as the original pilot (Stormfront), and the werewolf one. Go to Jim's site. Maybe you'll understand a bit more.
I say WAY TO GO JIM!!! And to the Sci-Fi channel: whomever makes your decisions for programming has rocks for brains. Did you guys take your cues from FOX?
on August 21, 2011
This is a very good portrayal of the characters from the Dresden Files book series. If you have not read the series, the television series is a good stand alone series. With the knowledge from the book series, the television series is a joy. I especially like Bob, and the actor who portrays him.