Thursday, January 25, 2007


'The Dresden Files' is like that guy you knew back in school who was amiable enough, fun to hang out with, but you knew he was never really going to amount to much. Still and all, there are worse ways to spend an hour on a Sunday night, and luckily it repeats later in the evening so that you don't have to miss watching 'Rome'. (Or if you MUST - 'Desperate Housewives'. ugh.)

I gave up on reading urban fantasy some years ago, but I used to devour whole series in the genre. My favorites in the field were Simon Hawke and Esther Friesner, and the all-time best will be Charles deLint. But I must have dropped out of the game before the Dresden series by Jim Butcher came along, so I can't say how well the show will hold up in comparison, nor do I know what to expect. (Which is probably a good thing - I gave up reading the Harry Potter books because they were ruining my experience at the movies. I'll probably go back and read them after the movies run their course, to fill in the blanks and enrich the experience.)

As Rob pointed out in his blog "The Medium Is Not Enough" (link to the left): "the magical rules of 'The Dresden Files' universe are relatively new and interesting." Yet at the same time, nothing contradicts the rules of magic that were laid down in shows like 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', 'Charmed', and even 'Bewitched', which is of importance in Toobworld. (At least so far - I've only had the debut episode to build on.)

Readers of this blog know that my criteria for watching a TV show are different than from most other "televisiologists". I'm more interested in how a show melds with the overall TV Universe, Earth Prime-Time, than with artistic merit. So shows like '24' or the updated version of 'Battlestar Galactica' aren't all that interesting to me, even though they are admittedly gripping and well-done, because they both had to be placed in alternate dimension foster homes.

On the other hand, I'll tune in to a shoddy sitcom in hopes of finding that link that will make it an official component of the main Toobworld. (If I'm lucky - as was the case with 'In Case Of Emergency' - it's one and out.)

So even if I found 'The Dresden Files' to be real schlock, still I would continue to watch it in hopes to get that one tidbit of TV trivia or possible in-joke that could be construed as an actual crossover to some other show.
And considering the location for this series, that might prove easier than expected, considering the show is about a private eye/wizard for hire in the modern world.

Chicago is proving to be quite promising for the world of urban fantasy. I can't say for certain that there are no earlier examples, but I think it all kicks off with the original 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' series. (The first TV movie, based on the book, was set in Las Vegas - 'CSI' tie-in if ever there was one! - and the second movie was based in Seattle, where I'm sure many of the victims ended up in the morgue at Seattle Grace of 'Grey's Anatomy'!)

But there is also 'Cupid' (although the series didn't last long enough for us to find out whether Jeremy Piven's character really was the Greek god of Love or just some nutjob), and 'Special Unit 2', a show that could be considered the forerunner to 'Torchwood'. (Now there's a fantasy crossover devoutly to be wished!)

Here's one theoretical link I've already forged for 'The Dresden Files', with Darren McGavin's old TV show.....

When 'The Night Stalker' was remade as a new series two years ago, with Stuart Townsend now assaying the role of the crusading reporter who investigates the supernatural, I had no choice but to plop it into the dimension of TV remakes. Maybe I could have done some theoretical song and dance (with a little seltzer down my pants) in order to keep both versions in the same universe in much the same way as I did for the two televersions of Lt. Columbo, both Bert Freed's original portrayal in "Enough Rope" and the better known classic of Peter Falk's.

One way to go for Kolchak would have been the son carrying on the work of the father, perhaps. Except that the new version also recast the role of Tony Vicenzo. Having two characters with the same names as those from the original series stretched credulity, even in a TV show about vampires, headless bikers, werewolves, and moss monsters.

But in that first episode of the remake, there is this really interesting cameo by Darren McGavin as the original Carl Kolchak. As Townsend's version walks into the newspaper office, we see McGavin in the foreground in his trademark seersucker suit, just getting such a rush out of the fact that he's there at all.

What we're actually seeing, however, is a digitally inserted McGavin as Kolchak; the image was lifted from some scene to be found in the original series (perhaps even from the original TV movies).

Until 'The Dresden Files' came along, I had nothing to bolster this theory, but here's my splainin now:

Carl Kochak - the original played by McGavin - was magically teleported into the dimension where the new Kolchak resided. In essence, he had become a "Slider". But instead of sliding through the dimensional vortex with Science, Magic was used for the transport.

For all I know, he's there still, making himself a new life. That would splain why we don't see him around anymore in the main Toobworld. And the fact that it's because his portrayer, Darren McGavin, passed away last year doesn't enter into it. When he was seen in that cameo, Kolchak didn't show any signs that he had significantly aged since the last time we saw him (because the clip was from the show 25 years or so earlier).

It could be that Kolchak stumbled across a story about the fountain of youth, or he was blessed/cursed by some demi-god with immortality. That's an unrecorded adventure for some fanfic writer. I just like to think that Kolchak - as played by Darren McGavin - not only outlived his portrayer, but that he will always be around, somewhere in the overall TV Universe.

And thanks to Harry Dresden, he got the chance to see how his dimensional doppelganger lived.
That's my splainin, and I'm sticking to it!

As for 'The Dresden Files', since they've already infested the Windy City with wizards, skin-walkers, and ravens who can take on human form, here's hoping that one day we'll see Harry Dresden encounter a gnome. That would be sweet if I could then link that character to Carl the gnome from 'Special Unit 2'. (Could it be that Carl took that human name as an alias instead of his true magical name in honor of a certain reporter from the INS?)

As Mushrat would say in 'Deputy Dawg', it's pozz'ble. It's pozz'ble.....


"I've got all this useless information at the tip of my fingers."
Flynn Carson
"The Librarian"

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