Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Dresden Files – Early Comparative Thoughts

Normally, when a series has a vampire episode, I’d review the episode. But those of you who have read my honourable mention for the novels, that this is based on, will know that the books have vampires in many of the volumes to a greater or lesser degree.

The fifth episode of the TV series is entitled Bad Blood and, up until episode six that aired last night, each episode seems very stand alone with recurring characters.
The main vampire in Bad Blood, Bianca (Joanne Kelly), does recur in an episode that hasn’t aired in the UK yet (according to imdb) and the series has inserted Bianca firmly into Harry’s past.

As such, I didn’t know whether to review Bad Blood now or honourable mention the series later. My confusion was further compounded by the fact that I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the TV episodes and the books, not entirely appropriate to the review process in fairness. Thus I decided to tread this middle ground and look at the way in which vampires have been portrayed, thus far, in the series compared to the novels. Please note this is only based on the episode Bad Blood, the series may introduce more lore later.

The episode is a basic frame a power player to take them out type episode and concerns a drug called third eye – an interesting concept, the drug is designed for vampires and makes them rage out of control. The White Council, represented by their enforcers the Wardens, want third eye off the street and become further embroiled, along with a powerful wizard called Ancient Mai (Jane McLean), when one of their assassins is killed and the suspicion falls on Bianca.

Bianca has enlisted the help of Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) in order to, originally, discover who tried to kill her and then who set her up, by doing this she calls in a favour from when Harry used magic to kill his uncle and she protected him.

In the books the vampires are set into three courts, we meet the first two in the episode. The red court, whom Bianca belongs to, seem to have the most power. In the episode they can produce fangs and their eyes go black, whilst in the novels we also discover that the human face is only a disguise and they are hideous demonic creatures. The black court are the more familiar undead vampires.
In this we meet one, Arvin (Kent Staines), though we see little of their powers and weaknesses as he is a third eye junky. His eyes are a vibrant yellow – though that might be the drug – and he has double fangs. When Arvin is killed there is a nice quip from Dresden, "I always think they're going to go up in flames." The third type of vampire is the white court, incubus/succubus types, not seen in the episode.

The thing that disappointed me most was the portrayal of the red court.
Whilst it would have been a costly effect we did not see them in their true form and there is no indication that this true form is part of the series. At one point Bianca accidentally ends up on third eye and she becomes violently feral – to my way of thinking her true form would have appeared then. There is some morphing cgi around her mouth but little indication that it was anything more than a cool effect.

The series as a whole is quite good, though not the best I’ve ever seen and perhaps some of my disappointment emanates from the fact that the books are a rollicking good read.
Stand out character is Bob (Terrence Mann) who really does steal the show but then Bob was a great base character – he has been softened down from the books however, as has Morgan (Conrad Coates) – the main Warden – who in the books hates Dresden with a fanatical passion and actually helps him out, albeit begrudgingly, in the series.

Not bad and a revisit will be in order when the series reaches its conclusion. edit: due to lack of vampires in the rest of the series this did not occur.

The imdb page for Bad Blood is here.


Anonymous said...

It's good to read from the perspective of the books. I now think I would like to pick these up because it sounds a bit more different than what we get from the series. I could have lived without the power-grab story line, but I felt it set up vampires as part of Dresden's world quite nicely. Most of the other episodes have either delt with black magic or ghosts. It felt nice to see other supernatural creatures are here as well.

Which is the first book that deals with Bianca and the courts?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mateo, Bianca appears briefly in the first book Storm Front - and this establishes a few of the vampire rules.

The next book, Fool Moon, is a werewolf specific and then Grave Peril, book 3, is full on red court (with appearances from the other courts) and starts the wizard/vampire war.

book 4, summer knight, has the war as a background but no vampires make an actual appearance (bar a dream sequence)

book 5 has a sub plot concerning a proposed duel with a member of the red court and book 6, blood rites, is a white court orientated book....

I'm afraid that's as far as I've read so far.

Anonymous said...

Ok, thanks. I guess I'll start from the beginning then. I'd rather read the vampire storyline, but I don't want to miss out on any of the mythology (or the werewolf book!)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mateo, let me know what you think

Anonymous said...

One more thing then. I bought Storm Front this morning and am through the first 7 chapters. So far it sounds eerily similar to episode 8 of the show (which I just found out is called Storm Front), which aired last week. I don't mind going over the same story though, since I thought it was one of the stronger episodes so far. there's also a lot more going on in the book; the episode only followed the mob boss death storyline.

Also, in case you're curious, Bianca is briefly in episode 8, as I'm assuming she is in the book. So far I'm loving the novel.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It may be that they have just taken the base plot of the book for episode 8 (which airs over here in two weeks) or they may start following the book plots a little more from that point. Be interesting to find out.

Glad you seem to be enjoying it.