I’ve not read Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” novels, but what I’ve heard about Harry Dresden reminds me of that John Constantine character Alan Moore created in the pages of DC’s “Swamp Thing” a couple decades ago. If Constantine were an American who billed himself as a private investigator. (I just noticed our reviewer below drew a similar comparison to the movie version of Constantine. Oops.)
The pilot was penned by Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe, two of the key writer-producers behind Herc’s favorite “Star Trek” franchise.
According to “Tickle Biscuit,” who has read the pilot script, Dresden carries a magic hockey stick has a sardonic talking skull on his shelf. That’s pretty cool:
The DRESDEN Files - Pilot
1) What is it?
Based on my forty-seconds of googling - it's a
backdoor pilot/two-hour movie for the SciFi Channel,
exec produced by Kal-El's daddy, Nic Cage, and based
on a series of novels I've never read, but seem
reasonably priced on Amazon.
2) Who wrote it?
Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolf (Star Trek: Deep
Space Nine - love that IMDB)
3) What's it about?
Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire. Think Harry Potter if
he gave up the higher education, gained a healthy dose
of cynicism, and went to work as a private
investigator in Chicago. As it starts, Harry's your
typical down-on-his-luck PI, working out of dingy
office in a strip mall, scraping by on a case by case
basis so he can support his cat, Mister, and his
sardonic talking crystal skull, Bob.
4) Wait, his name is Harry?
As one Chi-town cop is quick enough to point out early
on, "So what? Last summer you were a Jedi Knight, and
now your a wizard named Harry? I guess it's good
marketing but couldn't you have come up with something
more original?" Actually, Harry was named after Harry
Houdini, smart aleck cop. But besides that line, all
references to He-Who-Rules-The-Bestseller-List are
thankfully gone. Besides, our Harry could kick that
sullen sniveling teenager's ass.
5) But how? Harry Potter has a magic wand with a
Phoenix feather in it.
Listen, dork, Harry Dresden has a hockey stick for a
staff, a drumstick for a wand, and an Indiana
Jones-style fedora for a magic hat, that's how.
Although, I don't really know what you call magic
hats. You know, those pointy caps wizards wear. But I
know I wouldn't be caught dead in one outside of
6) What's the story?
In the pilot, Harry is hired as a consultant by a
Chi-town detective to investigate the bizarre murder
of a high-profile mobster and his girlfriend. How
bizarre? Their hearts were ripped right out of their
freakin chests! Weird stuff. And although the cops
don't really believe in the whole 'sorcery' thing,
they know Dresden gets results.
7) Since cops always have to hire wizards (Harry),
obsessive-compulsive detectives (Monk), or psychics
(Medium), where do they get the money?
Your hard-earned tax dollars, buddy. Seriously, cops,
what the hell are we paying you for?
8) Then what happens?
A fairly involving hard-boiled mystery, chock full of
seedy characters and sharp, snappy dialogue, just the
way Marlowe would have liked it. Along the way
Harry'll meet plucky journalists, crooked mobsters, as
well as a motley assortment of vampires, demons, and
wizards. And we get an honest-to-god satisfying
resolution. It's a page turner folks, and you never
quite know who we're going to meet next. Dresden's
world is a richly developed, fun one, a
very-Whedonesque (love that word) in that it's
supernaturally far-fetched, yet seemingly grounded in
the day-to-day reality we all slog through every damn
9) How does it end?
Hopefully with a thirteen episode pickup for Harry and
Again, I don't like giving too of the story away,
because I mean, people work hard on this stuff, and
not so some jerk with access to pilot scripts can blab
about it on the internet. The surprises are actually
worth being surprised for this time, people.
10) What could go wrong?
It's really all about casting on this one. So many
actors play snarky so shitty that it seems like they
don't even understand the lines they're reading. Since
we don't know what kind of special effects budget Mr.
Con Air can squeeze out of basic cable, this show is
definitely going to need someone who really makes
Harry the compelling character he should be. I'll let
the talkbackers decide.
11) Final thoughts--
Even though I wasted plenty of space on Harry Potter,
a really more apt analogy is Constantine: The Series,
only it's cool and not full of psuedo-religious
malarky, way-too lengthy explanations, and Keanu. "The
Dresden Files" is smart, funny, dark and violent, and
all wrapped up in a delicious pot pie of TV goodness.
SciFi could have something here for those of us not in
the "Stargate" crowd.
The movie should be getting going soon, and hopefully
we'll be hearing about a pick-up shortly after. This
is one to look out for in 2006.