SPOILERS here for both TV and book versions of the Dresden Files!
I watched the first few episodes of the SyFy¹ channel’s Dresden Files last night. I was dubious. I really like the books, and there were a number of cosmetic changes that annoyed me in what I’d caught of the show when it was running–Murphy, for example, is Latina and her first name’s Constanza (I assume Murphy is her married name). Bob isn’t just a spirit; he’s the ghost of someone old and at least formerly evil, and he can manifest a visible though intangible body². Harry carries a hockey stick as his staff, a drumstick as his wand, and his office seems to be a desk set up in his living room–that kind of thing.
However, watching the episodes has made me feel better about the whole enterprise. For one thing, Paul Blackthorn (which is a perfect name for someone playing Harry Dresden) has a great ability to come out with the kind of corny lines Harry’s always spouting without sounding like a moron; he sells the character brilliantly, if with a little less wisecracking than I’d like. Even when we first meet him, Harry is not perhaps the most stable of individuals; Blackthorn makes that obvious without making him seem dangerous…at least to people who don’t deserve it.
The show plays down Harry’s antagonism with Morgan. In the books, most of Storm Front involves Harry trying to stay one step ahead of Morgan’s insistance, in the face of all evidence, that he’s the one murdering people; in the show, Morgan has just showed up in the fourth episode and while he’s still a suspicious bastard he’s not completely irrational on the subject of Harry’s evilness. He’s not giving the benefit of the doubt or anything, but he’ll take reasonable proof.
One change I thought interesting: Harry’s evil mentor, Justin DuMorne, has been morphed into Harry’s evil (maternal, naturally) uncle. Also he seems to have survived Harry having “self-defensed him to death”, which as of Changes he hasn’t done in the novels.
I suspect that by the time I’m done I’m going to be sad that Skiffy cut this series, because it’s shaping up to be interesting.
1: At the time, it was still the SciFi channel. And should have stayed that way.
2: I’ll grant that the fact that the visible body’s being played by Terrence Mann does a great deal to alleviate my annoyance on this score.