Review: The Dresden Files 1×01

The Dresden Files

In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, SciFi

In the UK: Starts on Sky One, February 14th, 9pm

Sigh. I’m old, tired and jaded. I just can’t ignore this singular problem any more. I’ve been around, I’ve watched a lot of tele. It takes a lot to impress me. Either that or The Dresden Files is just dull and derivative. I’m hoping it’s the second option.

Plot (magically reincarnated from The SciFi Channel’s web site)

Based on Jim Butcher’s best-selling novels, The Dresden Files tells the story of Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne), a regular-guy private detective with extraordinary abilities. While most people see assaults, kidnappings or murders as the work of people with a depraved indifference for human pain, Harry is as likely as not to see the work of supernatural villains.

That’s because he’s a wizard. The real thing (and the only one listed in the Chicago phone directory). Whether consulting for the police on seemingly inexplicable crimes or following his own cases, he battles dark forces with a wry sense of humor.

Is it any good?

In places, it’s fine. Paul Blackthorne is great. Terrence Mann as his ghostly sidekick Bob is impressively theatrical: I really didn’t think there was that much theatrical left in the world. The beasties are all original and the magical rules of The Dresden Files‘ universe are relatively new and interesting.

There’s the unmistakable brimstone whiff of “family” hovering round this show

But it’s Angel for kids. It’s Hellblazer with a U certificate. Okay, it’s intended for an older audience, but there’s the unmistakable brimstone whiff of “family” hovering round this show. There are even cute, floppy-haired little moppets who need defending from monsters.

The Dresden Files just isn’t very compelling. Harry Dresden is too much of a regular guy, despite his magical powers, to be interesting. He probably has special incantations for making mortgage applications and separating out paper from plastic when he’s recycling. The monsters are just evil things without backstories that you really can’t get that scared about. Oh no, here come the… crows? Really? Is that right? Crows? Yes? Okay. Cos crows are… frightening, aren’t they? Maybe later on, anyway.

I’m hoping it picks up in the next few episodes, but I’m under the impression that this is going to be another (A Town Called) Eureka: a SciFi show that’s well executed, doesn’t put many feet wrong, but ultimately is just too insipid to inspire any sense of awe, wonder or even interest.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for you.


Paul Blackthorne (Harry Dresden)

Valerie Cruz (Lt Connie Murphy)

Terrence Mann (Bob)

Conrad Coates (Morgan)

Raoul Bhaneja (Kirmani)


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.