Are You Ready For Some Dresden? – The Latest Butcher Block

We’re less than a week from the broadcast of the Dresden Files TV series. Are you ready? Fred talks about Jim’s recent visit to the set, viewing parties, a good reading order for the books of the series, the first five episodes, and some early reviews. Plus, he dishes a little on White Night.
Download the podcast here (16MB MP3, 28 minutes)

57 thoughts on “Are You Ready For Some Dresden? – The Latest Butcher Block”

  1. I was pleasently suprised. Having studied several aspects of liscensed material being transformed into film, producers have this nasty tendancy to muck about with that sort of thing to “make it cool”, “make it relatable”, “make it tv/pg13-friendly”, and usually end up with “make it suck”. The given reason for this is usually to cater to the average joe, but in what has drifted down over the years points to changes for the simple reason of asserting the authority of the producer over the intellectual property. The early indications of a name change from “Harry” to “Eric” being rather a strong indicator of this.
    Apparently, by my estimation, a great deal of back and forth resulted in the /essence/ of the books remaining: A guy with special talents and a cargo container of monkeys on his back (some known, and some not known) is a detective in some city where he is the only person listed under “wizards” in the yellow pages.
    Actually, even the addition of a child in Murphy’s life seems like a positive. Since Michael is probably not going to show up (this is Sci-Fi, not CBS in the 90s), it allows room for some strong story arc potential regarding family and such. (Yes, I satirized that “make it relatable” thing earlier, but isn’t divorce relatable for most people these days, and a wealth of plot potential?)
    Bob’s a ghost and not an air spirit? Not neccessarily a deal killer. There’s some hints that Bob’s something more or different than he’s commonly accepted in the books. At least there’s still the skull, and consider that we really haven’t seen them have anything nearing a “normal” emergency in that one episode.
    In summary, I’d like to ask a question that anyone who has read even the titles of Mr. Butcher’s books might recognize with a moment’s thoughts: How much of what’s happening is misdirection?
    In Conclusion:
    The books are first person accounts of Harry’s adventures. The TV series is, almost by neccesity, a third person perspective. Virtually all first person accounts are considered to be “unreliable narrators”, and therefore what they know and what is knowable by a third party (i.e. you and me) is questionable. What bits and pieces did the protagonist miss in his relation of the evidence? (Sherlock Holmes and Poirot were frequently chastizing both Watson and Hastings on this very matter.) Evidence is scattered through-out early books regarding things that only comes out in later volumes.
    I’ll be watching, and continuing to read, regardless.

  2. I have to say I enjoyed the show. Yes, the books are terrific, but there is a whole lot of detail you can get into a book that you can’t get on a TV show, especially a one-hour, commercial-laden TV show. That said, this show has POSSIBILITIES. I liked the characters, even though I miss Bob the Skull in all his glowing, misty splendor. Yes, the ending fell flat, but we were left with possibilities. You know the little boy Scott will turn up later, with his raven buddies in tow. And I have to wonder what kind of dog will get recruited to play Mouse. The possibilities are endless, more so than even with Buffy, because the books laid a great foundation as the jumping-off point for the TV show.

  3. Well…where do I begin? Why do they have to change the core of the story? First, Harry’s father gave him a SILVER PENTICLE that belonged to his mother, not the braclet, which looked all wrong anyway… Harry’s apartment was all wrong, no sub-basement lab? A loft for his bedroom? Where is his blasting rod and staff, the fundamental tools of Harry Dresden? I read the comments about the Blue Beetle and they could have at least let it be in the first episode and maybe Mike couldn’t fix it and said that a JEEP would work ok for him too…Let us talk about Bob… What the heck happened to him? Bob is one of my favorites from the book! Bob isn’t free to roam all over the apartment! I think I can get use to the actors for Harry and Murphy, even though they did not follow discription either. Harry has electricity and a record player? OH COME ON!!!!! They have taken away all of the things from the book that made Harry , Harry! Some people say, “Don’t get hung up on the details!” What would the Dresden Files be without the details? An empty shell with no soul…Speaking of souls… what happened to the soul gaze? Harry is NOT a ladys man. Remember what Bob said? “Harry….What you know about women, I could juggle….” Lets see, take away his DUSTER, BLASTING ROD, STAFF, SILVER PENTICLE, BLUE BEETLE , SILVER SHIELD BRACLET, MISTER, CANDLES AND COLD SUB-BASEMENT LAB WHERE HE HAS TO WEAR A ROBE, AND FAVORITE MAGICAL PHRASES LIKE “VENTO SERVITAS” and what do we have? Some genaric PI with a little magical ability, like the “have nots of the magical society” They took away everything that makes Harry who he is! I understand that everything can’t be exactly the same as the books, but com on…. leave us a little something that seems at least a little familiar. What’s next, no magic circles drawn out of chalk, no John Marcone, no Never Never and No TOOT TOOT? Can someone please explain why it was soooo hard to get at least the basics right?

  4. By the way…Jim, I love your Dresden books, I have them all and am collecting them in audio version as well. I love that James Marsters is still reading them and hope that he continues to do so. I am sorry though to have soooo many issues with the tv show, its almost like they ripped off your idea and stripped it down and did their own thing with it. I am chomping at the bit to get the next book, any idea when it will come out? THANK YOU FOR BRINGING HARRY INTO MY LIFE, I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM HIM AGAIN…..

  5. Aside from all the nit-picking that could be done about details, the show was pretty much what I expected from a sci-fi channel original series. My biggest beef with it is the loss of the “magic and technology don’t mix” rule. That was Harry’s handicap – He’s magically a bad-a$$, but has to live within certain limitations. His limitation in the series seems to be that he dosen’t do any magic. I expected at least one or two fire bolts, and maybe one use of the shield bracelet for actually SHIELDING him. Using it to levitate objects seemed sort of lame.
    On the plus side, I do like the jeep, and Bob the Ghost has possibilities (tho I still miss Bob the Skull). Best line of the show – “…your uncle, who you self-defensed to death.”
    Oh yeah, the “Doom Box” thing was pretty lame.

  6. Help! 911! What has been done by the SciFi channel to the Dresden Files is criminal.

  7. For all of you who are griping… Truthfully, I thought it was fine. You just have to remember that there are limitations to what will translate well onto television and that there were stylistic choices that needed to be made. If it wasn’t to your liking then you really have the choice of whether or not you are going to watch it. Just stay cool.

  8. I liked the tv show, contrary to some popular opinion. As was said earlier, the visual medium is very different from the written one. However, I think that people who are upset right now should have hope: there’s only been ONE episode so far. Realize that SciFi has to rope in people who haven’t read the series yet (and hopefully they will after they watch the show a little). While readers of the series could easily have been plunged into intricate plot points and complex issues with little, if any, explanation anyone who doesn’t know the series would be lost. Give the show a little time to warm everyone up to the main plot and then see where it goes.
    And personally, I like the idea of “Bob the Ghost” (who might actually be “Bob the Spirit who Manifests himself in a Somewhat Corporeal Human Form”) better than “Bob the Fireplace.”

  9. YES, we ar complaining about the show, however, we are not really complaining about the storyline. We know that it has only been one episode and we need to give it a chance….BUT….as loyal readers we were waiting for months or longer for this to happen and they broke almost all of the rules layed down by the book. The storylines are fine if they are different from the books, as a matter of fact, I encourage it!! What we are angry about is that they changed Harry sooo much that he is barely recognizable as Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. We only wanted the basics to be the same… Why is that so much to ask???? Let us not forget, without the loyal readers buying the books and spreading the word about Harry, even being as good as they were, I don’t think any network would have bothered making it a series at all

  10. What can I say. I am SO greatly disappointed that I honestly don’t know if I will ever watch it again. The producers and writers have changed so much of the history and cosmology. It is hardly recognizable. So far as I can tell the only thing they got right were three names: Harry, Murphy and Bob.
    Here are my chief complaints. I warn you the list is pretty long. Some are pretty miner and petty, but some are just deal breakers for me.
    First Paul Blackthorne as Harry was flat and boring. In this episode he just isn’t “Harry” and it was teh Premier! He doesn’t have the sharp wit and sarcasm. Maybe it was the script they chose to open with, but I was expecting more from his performance.
    Terance Mann as Bob, what a joke! I was excited when I heard they signed him, but not know. They totally reworked this character and in doing so change something profound and necessary in the cosmology of it all. Bob is not a repressed, stuffy, ghost of a dead wizard. He is a perverted, hornball, wise cracking spirit. I would rather have had a Skull with CGI orange light effects added and just his voice. It would have been more fun to watch.
    Valerie Cruz is NOT Murphy. She does not have the energy, fire or spunk. Her performance was also lacking for who and what Murphy should be. Why the kid? I just don’t see any reason to do it. Can’t we have a female character without a child. It is just another example of producers and writers tinkering with the history of the Dresden-verse.
    No Mister. How hard would it to have had a big old tom cat walk across one scene at Harry’s place? It is one of the touches that allows people to identify with Harry. It humanizes him.
    Speaking of his home, when did harry move upstairs? His bed room is not in a loft! Then the wards on his door are on cloth hanging from the ceiling! How dumb was that! I was also unimpressed with the “Lab” where we first met Bob. It just does not fit.
    Why a jeep. Was it physically impossible to find a beet up VW Bug? I know of about 8 that I can get my hands on. Did the Army/Navy surplus store have a big sale on them?
    The writing for the episode was bland to say the least. The plot was unimaginative and dull. This was supposed to be the “premier” for god’s sake. Where was the action, the magic, the big hook to get non readers to stay and watch?
    Instead we got a villain who really did not use any kind of powers, and some “Goth’d” out guys who were the “ravens” and just sat around in a circle giving the kind a Banana Split. Oh what neat Magic that was, Not!
    The changes in Harry’s back story were a little hard to swallow. I was expecting there to be some changes for TV but to rewrite some of it was not necessary. I just can’t figure out what they hope to gain by doing so.
    Jim, please exert some kind of control or displeasure here. They are your characters and vision. It is sad to see them being denigrated, destroyed and marginalized. Please I know that there will probably be a few missteps out of the gate with translating the books to TV, but this was just plain bad. The writers and producers didn’t mistep, they fell down a great big hole.

  11. I just read some more postings. I wanted to ask eric… if he actually read the books? We were not asking for all of the elements to be in the first episode, just that the elements that sci-fi put in to be correct…. I would also have to agree mostly with PLGMRNE on the points made in his/her posting.

  12. You know, the credits of this show should read: “LOOSELY based on the novels by Jim Butcher”. So much was changed that it wasn’t even worth watching, IMHO.
    None of the characters held my interest (especially the characterization of Harry, which was the most disappointing to me), the writing was nothing special, and the storyline was boring as hell. I know this was only the first espisode, but I really think they missed the mark completely.
    I think I’ll be sticking to James Marsters’s wonderful interpretations on audio and continue to read the upcoming books instead.

  13. Okay, the pilot kinda sucks. Yes, I know everyone’s angry about how inaccurate everything is portrayed. Well, it’s a SHOW not THE BOOK so get over it.
    That being said, yes the pilot was a big let down considering the quality of shows SCI-FI Channel is used to putting out. The acting was OK, but there was little to no characterizations. And the dialogue? BAAAAAAAD. But there is still hope. I think all of us Nerds can remember how terrible the pilots to Babylon 5 and Farscape were. So I’m still gonna give it another chance. Lets just hope the writers decide to kick it into gear.

  14. I liked this show. It has definite possibilities. I do wonder,though, who they will cast as Mouse. I’ll be so disappointed if they make him a Jack Russell terrorist instead of the giant he’s supposed to be… At any rate, the possibilities will keep me watching!

  15. I thought the show was FANTASTIC!! I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I hope it stays on air for a long, long time! I’m looking forward to next weeks episode!!
    xoxo Angel

  16. The only thing I was really disapointed by was the lack of smart ass while the skin changer was torturing Harry. Harry doesn’t just take a beating. He makes you mad while you beat him.
    “Are you always a wise ass?”
    “No. Sometimes I’m asleep.”
    Hopefully they add that to his character.

  17. All right, folks. Everyone needs to settle down a bit. I, for the most part, enjoyed the show. I absolutely detest Buffy, and Angel, and those types of shows (though I’m hardcore into vampire and otherworldly literature), so I’m a different breed of fan than the average Butcher-ite. But, I felt the show has had a solid start. I am disappointed with the lack of “electricity + magic = bad”; however, what I find most astonishing is that the crux of everyone’s complaint is that Bob wasn’t a skull. Get some perspective, people. If I actually SAW two glowing orange eyes in a skull, I would have thought it was the cheesiest bit of sci-fi trash I had ever seen. Visual mediums simply can’t do that effect well, no matter what the storyline. I thought having Bob manifest as an actual physical entity was quite clever, and, most importantly, was visually effective. In addition, Bob actually swirled into orange mist and entered the skull (for a brief second we saw the infamous orange eyes), which was brilliant because it told the viewer that Bob’s actual form WAS orange and mystical, but in order for us mortal, non-magic folk to interact with such a sophisticated being, we needed to see a physical body. I’lll reserve final judgment on the show until I see a few more episodes (as I DID think the “doom-box” was cliche and not explained well), but I am looking forward to the next one.

  18. Murphy’s got a kid…
    Anyway, that’s really the only thing that bothered me.
    I like the developing Harry and Murphy in the books, and i don’t want that to change in the tv series because that is my favorite part of the books.
    I crack up when they argue.
    Most of the characters I could identify with adn see the similarities, I hope Bob will loosen up as the series proceeds. I want to see romance novels and college parties. (that would actually be very funny to see an old, british guy ask for harlequin novels)

  19. I was disappointed. This is just going to become another pathetic Sci Fi Channel soap opera that left out the very gnosis of what the Dresden Files is.
    The adaptive issues aside, the writing was bland – I agree with everyone who said so – and there was very little of the sustaining torrent of sarcasm that made me adore Dresden in the first place.
    On top of this, the change to Bob was just intolerable. Not the effect of personifying him – not even that he’s a ‘ghost of a wizard’ – but the entire attitude of the character. You don’t portray a ‘wise cracking porta-geek’ (the most appropriate description IMHO) with someone who resembles a melodramatic, serious (and overly apologetic) actor. Sci Fi did this to be ‘pc’ and I know it – as a pornographically obsessed spirit would be hard to depict in it’s timeslot.
    I also believe this to be the same about the pentacle and other aspects relating to magick in general. One of the things I admired about the Dresden files was how overtly similar and believable it’s metaphysics were. Sci Fi couldn’t do that. They don’t do that. They are a network, and as such, their hands are tied.
    Personally – I would have welcomed an actual, faithful adaptation of the first book as perhaps a mini-series, then with that nice introduction, a series spawning off of it (and to hype the series later, perhaps mini-series event adaptations of the subsequent books at well timed intervals). This would have prevented these lackluster pilot episodes and given them ample room for expansion – as well as appeased both fans AND people new to the whole Dresdendom.
    People who watched the show will pick up Storm Front and ask wtf… the book is WAY better? Why didn’t Sci Fi do it THIS way? After all – ‘Doom-box’? Is this really the best they can do?
    And what with this attitude from Dresden about the child? It is there to establish that he cares, but this was (in the spirit of his character) a bit too much. There were more sappy ‘hugs’ in that episode than all the entire book series.
    In conclusion – they’re reinventing the wheel (in adaptations, it’s expected) and they’re not getting the mechanics right yet. I hope this might change, but if it becomes another irritating soap opera behind a fantasy veneer, I won’t subject myself to it.
    I’m going to stick with the audio books, and I simply cannot wait until the next book is out. Viva Dresden!

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