Monday, March 5, 2007


Okay. A little something about me: my standards are high when it comes to the weird sh*t.
So, when a show like The Dresden Files comes along, I kind of hold my breath just before I watch the pilot. You never know, right? A new show like this could be another Millennium, another X-Files.
Sadly though, that isn’t the case here.
Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is a wizard for hire, a specialized private detective with powers, ala Clive Barker’s Harry D’Amour, who apparently advertises in the yellow pages, and gets consulting fees and favors from the Chicago PD (as represented by Detective Constanza Murphy; Nip/Tuck’s Valerie Cruz). In the pilot episode (“Birds of a Feather”), Harry gets involved with a young boy who is of much interest to some dark and sinister forces; a young boy who reminds Harry of himself at that age.
In and of itself, the set up and premise are serviceable, if not particularly stunning and original. At best, we could hope for something passably watchable, right? Somehow though, the pilot doesn’t even work on that level.
To begin with, Blackthorne doesn’t have quite enough gravitas to command the viewer’s attention. Not even little bits of voice over can help us sympathize with a character that just doesn’t come alive. Dresden isn’t really a person we end up caring for by pilot’s end, and if we can’t even care about the main protagonist, what can we hope to muster for the supporting cast?
And, speaking of gravitas, that’s something that the pilot’s baddie, the Skinwalker (played by Deborah Odell) doesn’t have any of, either. So when the pretty anticlimactic finish comes along (using a weapon which is, in true tried-and-tested fashion, established in a scene early on in the episode), all it really elicits is a sad, slightly exasperated sigh.
The one bit of interest in the entire episode is the idea of the Raven Clan, though even that is marred by the lead Raven (credited as the “Raven Man”) looking slightly like Bela Lugosi with some curious voice distortion going on.
There really wasn’t a lot that was commendable about this first shot in the arm of The Dresden Files, so, to be fair, I had a look at the second episode, “The Boone Identity.” Of course, as if fate wasn’t really on Harry’s side, the second episode had “Egyptian mumbo-jumbo” as its centerpiece, and the funny thing is, I’ve got a yen for “Egyptian mumbo-jumbo,” so my standards for that are pretty high too.
Again, nothing really outstanding for me to take note of, and the body jumping angle isn’t really explored to its fullest, so much so that Cruz is cheated of an opportunity to show us some acting chops (Murphy’s body is hijacked by the baddie, but we don’t really see much of baddie-in-Murphy’s body). Not to mention that the ghost fx in the episode’s climax were pretty sad-a$$.
All in all, unless things get markedly better, I really wouldn’t recommend The Dresden Files; the first few episodes of Supernatural seemed to be more watchable, and even that show couldn’t hold my attention past half a dozen episodes.

Parting shot: It should be noted (for those of you interested in these sorts of things) that Nicolas Cage is one of The Dresden Files’ producers.

(Originally posted 020307)

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