WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

I spend my day at work whiling away the hours and avoiding work by watching whatever I can find on Netflix Instant, which is why I feel qualified to give you my opinion on what's worth watching and what's just a waste of your valuable time. This week, I'm reviewing DaveInSoCal's suggestion: The Dresden Files.

This week's show: The Syfy (ugh, that hurt to spell) series "The Dresden Files"


What's the pitch?
Harry Dresden is a professional wizard, who uses the knowledge passed down from his wizardly mother and stage magician father to fight supernatural crime in modern day Chicago.

Who's in it?
Nicolas Cage! Just kidding, he only gets a producer credit. Paul Blackthorne, Valerie Cruz, and Terrance Mann lead a veritable "Wait, who?" of casting.

So how is it?
Rough. Before I knew anything about the show as I watched episode one's opening I thought to myself, "This looks like some low-budget SyFy show." I'm unfamiliar with the books, but apparently they have a pretty huge sci-fi/fantasy following. I'm not sure if you'll be more inclined to like the show if you're a fan or not, though.

Personally, I'm not really into the "urban fantasy" genre that tries to put things like wizards and vampires and werewolves into modern day settings; I fully admit that colors my opinion, and if you feel differently this might be right up your alley. What I think we can all agree on, though, is this has some straight up painful acting and writing.

Each week Harry and his beloved ghost friend whose name I never learned take a new case, be it a boy harried by some kind of evil demon, a string of werewolf serial killings, or a guy with an Egyptian tablet who hops from body to body for some reason, and use their magical know-how to save the day all while helping the Chicago PD without revealing the true nature of his knowledge and abilities. See, the normal people can't know about Harry because, uh, this council said so.

The show suffers from a lot of lazy writing like that. Every episode is littered with, "I know just what to do," and a character storming off without telling anyone else because fleshing out the story would eat up valuable time. The first new character Henry meets in an episode is going to be the client; the second one is going to be the secret murder-demon thing of the week in disguise. If you're lucky, they'll stay in human form and do some menacing via eyes that change colors or something. If you're unlucky, SyFy will set its lurching, steam-driven CGI engine to work and plop out a vector graphic vampire or some equally-horrible looking thing and try to shoot the scene in an oil drum or something so you won't notice how bad it looks.

Hint: you'll still notice.

And I just want to state for the record that I'll totally forgive a low budget; I'm not hating on "The Dresden Files" simply because of the kitschy monsters. A good story will absolve a show of stuff like that because you're pulled in enough to respect what they've built and you tend not to notice stuff like rubber monster masks. It gets a lot harder to suspend your disbelief, though, when every actor delivers lines like it's amateur hour at a 5-Hour Energy ad casting call.

My recommendation? IF you're a huge fan of the books, and/or IF you absolutely love the genre, give it a cautious try one night when you've got a backup show ready to go at a moment's notice. Otherwise, pass.

Lomky


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Lomky

As an avid fan of the books, I made it five minutes into the first episode before I ragequit. I have no idea how they got from the books to this travesty.

deemery


quality posts: 2 Private Messages deemery

If you haven't read the books, this would probably be an OK way to waste some time. But if you've read the books, the quarter-assed effort is more frustrating than entertaining.

sgsax


quality posts: 5 Private Messages sgsax

The wife & I actually liked it while it was on. We found the writing clever, the characters pretty good, the acting decent, and were disappointed when it was canceled. On the contrary, we thought the books were crap with forced dialog, utterly flat characters, and generally uninspired writing. As with all things, YMMV, I suppose.

pmallett


quality posts: 0 Private Messages pmallett

It's actually much better to watch if you've never read the books because it's basically just loosely based on the books. The author stated when they started the series that it was not really going to be based on the book stories, it was just going to be in the same sort of universe.

micnorman


quality posts: 0 Private Messages micnorman

The series is a yawn fest! I (tried to) watched a few episodes hoping to get in to...particularly since it is free on AIV. But wow...painful...

murry537


quality posts: 1 Private Messages murry537

The books seriously are amazing. Don't let the TV show keep you from trying them.

-- Big-O

taihlo


quality posts: 0 Private Messages taihlo

The author of the books pretty much lost control of the series (much to his disappointment, he was really looking forward to this media), and SyFy made so many changes that it wasn't even close in quality. The books are significantly more detailed and actually make sense... Despite the general badness of the show, the books are well worth reading...

SteveO1128


quality posts: 1 Private Messages SteveO1128

It's funny... I liked the show when it was on. I actually thought that what's his name made a good Dresden. I liked it enough that it made me check out the books - which I love. The first (and only) season is very loosely based off of the first book.

If I remember right, the show got better as it went on - it was only the first couple of episodes that I remember being weak. I thought it was as good as just about any other syfy show they were showing at the time (which wasn't saying much).

But yeah, thanks to the show, it introduced me to an author that I love to read...

fimion


quality posts: 0 Private Messages fimion

I love the book series but was rather disappointed in the show. The actor portraying Harry was great, but beyond that it wasn't right. I've seen the whole season and wasn't surprised when they cancelled it.

Meredythe


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Meredythe

I'll tell you what my co-worker tells me every time we disagree. You're uneducated. I'm not really sure what that means, but I did enjoy the show. Not as extreme as my love affair with the books but it's not bad. Paul Blackthorn (dresden) is British and plays american. Terrance mann (Bob the Ghost) is American playing a Brit. It's fun watching them play 'Hide-the-Accent.'

ashenkhar


quality posts: 1 Private Messages ashenkhar

If you've read the books and enjoyed them, this show isn't worth 5 seconds of your time.

lafinjack


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lafinjack

I loved the show and had never read the books. Also, a show doesn't have to match the prior media to be good (i.e. Buffy).

Muffins spelled backwards is sniffuM.

regentswift


quality posts: 3 Private Messages regentswift

I used to know the author (Jim Butcher). While I never read his books or saw his show, I can say that he's a pretty stand-up guy.

richied47


quality posts: 0 Private Messages richied47

The Dresden Files is a guilty pleasure of mine. I watched the television show at first by accident but got hooked.

Now I'm halfway through the book series and loving it. This is not my usual fare for reading but I can't seem to put them down. Definitely guy-oriented, and sometimes downright goofy, these books are cleverly written.

Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I recommend wholeheartedly!

abitterwoman


quality posts: 27 Private Messages abitterwoman

Llandar! Why aren't you at E3 right now? Are you at least getting to watch it on TV at work?

Good review. I think I will have to give this show a pass. You should review something in the horror category.

"Computers don't make errors. What they do, they do on purpose."

davidbowser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages davidbowser

The show is 'meh' scifi fare, but not bad. I watched one episode when it was new, liked it enough to research and found the books.

The books are fantastic, and I have gotten quite emotionally attached to the characters and story. Very much a laugh, cringe, cheer line of books, but the last two were more anger, fear, regret. What is often missed by the casual reader is that there are a series of short stories that fill in the backstories of certain characters and some are written from their perspective, rather than Harry Dresden's.

DaveInSoCal


quality posts: 17 Private Messages DaveInSoCal

Thanks Llandar! I was able to catch the first episode and was pretty dissapointed. Books are awesome (if you like the genre), Episode 1 of the show was poop.

I think someone was saying they got better as the series progressed, so maybe I'll give Ep 2 a shot.

I appreciate you taking the bullet on this one!


Wolfkin


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Wolfkin

whoa people when did we give up the fight. I still call it SciFi and when this show was on so did they.

For my money I rather enjoyed it. The acting wasn't terrible the CG didn't make me want to kill myself. I found it a decent little sci fi show. Unlike say the Scifi original movies like Never Cry Werewolf, Black Forest or Gretle Witch Slayer. Now THOSE are entries that have acting just shy of "so bad it's good" and CGI that looks like a first attempt at a college assignment.

GreeNova


quality posts: 0 Private Messages GreeNova

FYI, in the 4th paragraph or so down in your article, you mistakenly referred to Harry as "Henry". Not that it really matters, just exercising my Internets "Red Pen".

I have 9 full pages of Stuff I (You) Bought and one partial page totaling to way more than I remember spending. I've been spending/wasting my money here since 10-10-2005. Check out your list, log in and click the link in the upper right corner.

blkswansec


quality posts: 0 Private Messages blkswansec

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the whole urban fantasy thing either. The only reason I read the books is because the hubby talked me into it. I will say that you can tell that Jim Butcher was a new writer from the first few books bit after those he really gets a grip on his Dresdenverse. They get more and more enjoyable each book. Now that I've said that let me explain that the SyFy (gives you the heebie jeebies to just type that), tv series is about as close to the as River Tam and Jayne Cobb's intelligence. Sometimes they make the right choices but in completely the wrong ways and reasons. And, sometimes they're like the comparison between the Dresden Files show and books. The books are a fun read when you want to escape to a different verse than what you're used to reading. The show was just bad, to put it bluntly. Please bear in mind that I like bad tv and bad movies. Not reality bad, I'm talking C and D rated crap. This didn't even get that high on the scale. It wasn't due to the low budget either, I like bad, remember? It's funny. I really think the writers had a dartboard of lines and plots and tried to see how smashed they could get and still write a tv show. Maybe in some other verse I would have liked it, but they just ruined an awesome book series chance at a good tv show or movie. *cough Firefly/Serenity*

Jennifer Lott Hendrix

blkswansec


quality posts: 0 Private Messages blkswansec

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the whole urban fantasy thing either. The only reason I read the books is because the hubby talked me into it. I will say that you can tell that Jim Butcher was a new writer from the first few books bit after those he really gets a grip on his Dresdenverse. They get more and more enjoyable each book. Now that I've said that let me explain that the SyFy (gives you the heebie jeebies to just type that), tv series is about as close to the as River Tam and Jayne Cobb's intelligence. Sometimes they make the right choices but in completely the wrong ways and reasons. And, sometimes they're like the comparison between the Dresden Files show and books. The books are a fun read when you want to escape to a different verse than what you're used to reading. The show was just bad, to put it bluntly. Please bear in mind that I like bad tv and bad movies. Not reality bad, I'm talking C and D rated crap. This didn't even get that high on the scale. It wasn't due to the low budget either, I like bad, remember? It's funny. I really think the writers had a dartboard of lines and plots and tried to see how smashed they could get and still write a tv show. Maybe in some other verse I would have liked it, but they just ruined an awesome book series chance at a good tv show or movie. *cough Firefly/Serenity*

Jennifer Lott Hendrix

craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom

For a demon-of-the-week fantasy show I preferred the short-lived (what else?) Fox show Brimstone.

Lori Petty appears in several episodes, and if she doesn't do it for you (and I completely understand why she wouldn't even though she does for me (remember Booker?)), Teri Polo takes over the female costarring role after the show moves west.



Moueska


quality posts: 54 Private Messages Moueska

How about "Wolf Creek". When I watched it, it seemed like I was watching "Twin Peaks" without all the severe confusion and with more werewolf stories.

Older shows to review:
Xena! Hercules!
and - "Jack of All Trades"... I think it was only one season, and I'm sure it was for a good reason, I just can't remember why.

craigthom


quality posts: 63 Private Messages craigthom
Moueska wrote:"Jack of All Trades"... I think it was only one season, and I'm sure it was for a good reason, I just can't remember why.



Jack of All Trades sucked, that's why. There were some funny moments, but not enough of them. I watched it all, hoping that it would magically turn into Brisco County of the Caribbean, but it never did.

abitterwoman


quality posts: 27 Private Messages abitterwoman
Moueska wrote:How about "Wolf Creek". When I watched it, it seemed like I was watching "Twin Peaks" without all the severe confusion and with more werewolf stories.

Older shows to review:
Xena! Hercules!
and - "Jack of All Trades"... I think it was only one season, and I'm sure it was for a good reason, I just can't remember why.



I loved Xena! Although near the end it got a little different and made me question my sexuality.

Good times.

"Computers don't make errors. What they do, they do on purpose."

craig1f


quality posts: 0 Private Messages craig1f

I'm one more voice saying "read the books."

This is the most enjoyable book series I've ever read. And if you like audiobooks, the narrator is amazing. He performs the narration. Whenever Dresden gets in a tight spot, you can feel the tension in James Marster's voice. It's great.

TSOG


quality posts: 3 Private Messages TSOG

I think The Dresden Files started at the same time as Eureka. I remember telling my brother, 'they cancel the wrong show'. Even through I watch Eureka, I still feel that way. Someone should tell SF (see you don't have to spell it out) that TDF was/is 1000 x better than those movies that they keep making! And since they have a problem with good ideas, do a Dresden Files movie(s) (the ideas are already there)!

cnorborg


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cnorborg

I'd say watch the show and enjoy it, it's fun and not too bad when taken alone. Then go read the books and really learn to love Dresden...

I will say that the show had a ton going for it. I thought they picked great people for the various parts, but the butchering (no pun intended) of the storylines made it fall a bit short. Fun show though, makes reading the books even better having a good visual on the characters. However, in the books Murphy is a petite blonde and in the TV show she's anything but...

maxrfb


quality posts: 8 Private Messages maxrfb

Another "problem" if you are watching on Netflix, they appear in a different order than they were shot/supposed to air in. So, there are some characters and concepts that don't get introduced right away.
Other than that, it was ok to me.

wow. I actually bought a Robot Elvis.
What was I thinking?