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Monday, 26 February 2007

The Dresden Files: the unaired pilot (Storm Front)

As we all know from Peter Jackson's stunning adaptations of the Lord of The Rings trilogy to the big screen, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs - that is, you can't transform a beloved book into a film without making some changes to the story.

But how many broken eggs are too many - before you end up not with a tasty omelette but just a sticky, eggy mess?

Through the magic of the Internet I have managed to see the 107-minute rough cut of Storm Front, the unaired pilot for The Dresden Files.

As a rough cut most of the major effects sequences were missing - replaced with captions or temporary effects - which meant the giant toad demon from the book was just a big, bald bruiser who wouldn't have looked out of place as a demon on Charmed.

On the positive side the episode featured dreamlike cinematography and fast cuts that gave it a unique look, and the story at least hinted at some of the elements of the Dresdenverse that have been missing from the aired episodes - from Harry's cat to the disruptive effects his magic has on modern technology. There's even a cheeky cameo from the Blue Beetle (Harry's battered VW from the books) in an early garage scene, but that probably won't be enough to stave off much nerdfury - although it did give me a geeky fanboy smile.

And, as in the novel, Harry ends up dating Susan the reporter - but where is she in the episodes that have been shown on Sky One, if these were supposed to follow?

Familiar elements are heavily outweighed by the changes. The Big Bad's motives are totally different, and had I not just read the book Storm Front I might have almost found his actions understandable (if not acceptable, of course!) The spectacular climax of the book is also sadly missing.

Jim Butcher's complex, interwoven, multilayered plot has been grossly simplified and streamlined to such an extent that - along with all the character changes - you can't help but wonder sometimes why the programme makers didn't just start from scratch with their own hero and his own universe! It also makes me worry how these 107 minutes (a two hour time-slot) will be cut down to an hour - for screening later in the show's run - and still maintain plot integrity.

On the evidence of the two, 'monster-on-the-week' episodes so far shown, it almost looks as though The Dresden Files is too big and ultradetailed an entity to be squeezed down into an episodic TV show. However, I'm still optimistic - I have it on good authority that the show picks up in the next two episodes ...

2 comments:

  1. yeah i feel the same way. i'm new to the series i just finished blood rites, i dont really find the tv show that enjoyable it seem more like charmed then anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment, Jolie. I'd say "don't give up on the TV series, just yet". There have been a couple of above average episodes recently, so maybe things are on up! But it does still feel like Charmed's older brother!!!

    ReplyDelete

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