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Forum namePass The Popcorn
Topic subjectI'd love a better try at the utterly junkfood-y "Dresden Files"
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=6&topic_id=715138&mesg_id=715631
715631, I'd love a better try at the utterly junkfood-y "Dresden Files"
Posted by Walleye, Wed Sep-14-16 08:57 AM
SyFy tried it once, for about a season, and it wasn't very good. Though the lead actor kind of nailed his part, so it wasn't a total disaster. If you're unfamiliar (and there's no reason you should be except that he's been writing this series for a long time and I imagine it's done pretty well) the Dresden Files are about a private investigator named Harry Dresden who is also a wizard. They're hardboiled detective stories with magic. Yeah, 2016 is the first year in a while I've had to mostly have fun with reading books and I decided not to really engage my brain if I had to. So I mowed through 15 of The Dresden Files books in the last month.

The smarter side of me can list so many things wrong with these books. Their noir conceits tend to lean toward the cliche. Anything remotely sexual seems to have been written by a fourteen-year-old boy raised on romance novels. The Chicago he describes has almost nothing in common with the real city, culturally or geographically. The former is harder, obviously. But the frequent latter mistakes makes me shake my head and wish Jim Butcher would just... ask somebody who's lived there.

But the stuff the books do well would translate really well to a TV series, in my view. Butcher did a good job of crating a central character with a stable, intelligible personality and then putting him in situations that create tension with his worldview - tensions that are resolved in a perfect mix of unpredictable-but-somehow-consistent-with-the-character. He is also really good at escalating the stakes in each successive novel in a way which is somewhat believable within the bounds of the universe he has staked out.

It's weird, because it's like he does the hard stuff (compelling main character, expanding the universe and the magnitude of its peril skillfully) extremely well, but does the easy stuff (avoiding cliche'd writing and doing your research on factual information) pretty poorly. It's like watching a baseball team with good up-the-middle-defenders who can hit for power and have speed, but which somehow fails to find a firstbaseman or DH who can hit for shit. Like... how is THAT the thing you screwed up?

Anyhow, the stuff that Butcher sucks at would be easy to gloss over in a TV series. The stuff that he's good at can actually be augmented with good casting (the surrounding characters are pretty compelling as well - the guy is hit/miss with villains but the hits are really fun) and skillful pacing of TV episodes/seasons.

Anyhow, I don't really know how licensing and TV rights works, but I'm guessing this is impossible because the first TV effort failed. But I'd have rather enjoyed turning off my brain and watching an honest effort at doing it well. It'd be a fun, if not particularly thoughtful, watch.