[DWJ] DIR latest

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat May 19 13:53:57 EDT 2007


You know, I just can't help myself here...

On Fri, 18 May 2007 22:23:10 +0100, Phil Boswell wrote:

<on the changes to the Dresden series for TV>

>The reaction was pure and simple nerdfury.
>
>The extensive changes were debated over acres of threadage and
>sparking not a few flame wars. People stamped their feet and sputtered
>righteous indignation.
>
>And you know what? The TV series is very very different to the
>books...and yet is extremely fun in its own right. Harry is played
>brilliantly by Paul Blackthorne, who is very nearly tall enough (Harry
>should be 6'7" tall which was the main reason for the change of
>vehicle) and Bob is played by Terrance Mann...'nuff said.

I couldn't disagree with you more.  Not just because I think the series is
extremely dull in its own right; my husband and I stopped watching after
five or six episodes because the writing was extremely erratic and some of
the shows turned on really stupid plot points.  If we'd been bothered by the
changes from the books, we would have stopped after the first episode.  The
person who introduced us to the books in the first place made the excellent
point that if you didn't think of it as the Harry Dresden novels, it was a
decent show.  Just not decent enough for even Blackthorne and Mann to save
it.  (In the first few episodes it looked as though someone had told poor
Terrence, "Don't move around a lot, because you're a ghost and you can't
touch stuff--no, don't move at all!")

What I disagree with is the extremely objectionable term "nerdfury" and the
implication that fans were wrong to be upset by proposed changes.  The
reason the books were optioned at all was because they were popular with
those fans, who had every right to expect that a series carrying the name
Dresden would have some substantive resemblance to the books.  I don't have
a lot of patience with people who get all riled up over tiny changes (and I
appreciate your clarification about the Karrin/Connie Murphy name change; it
seemed random and unnecessary, but now I see there was a point) but too many
irrelevant changes tend to imply that the people making the show don't give
a crap about the original property.  And that *is* insulting.

In all the changes you mentioned, you left out the one that matters most:
The universe of the TV series is nothing like that of the books.  Jim
Butcher's greatest contribution to dark fantasy was not a brooding
self-doubting wizard; it was the way he connected all the myths about
vampires and werewolves and faerie creatures and made those connections make
sense--and then dropped his main character in the middle to bumble around
standing proxy for the reader.  And that's gone.  Yeah, I can see why;
you're making a TV show that has to appeal to non-fans too, and three kinds
of vampire is probably too much to explain.  But at that point, you really
are only left with a generic story about some wizard in the modern world and
his spirit sidekick.

And that's the heart of the problem with every well-loved fantasy book that
ever got made into a movie (or TV show).  In doing so, you've got a built-in
guaranteed audience in the fans, but they're not going to be enough to make
the movie successful.  So you have to make the story accessible to people
who've never heard of the book before.  AND you have to make all the little
changes that worked on paper but don't translate so well to the screen. It's
a balancing act.  If you make it too much for the fans, you get David
Lynch's DUNE and a bunch of moviegoers wondering where the last two hours
went.  Too much the other way, and you get THE LAST MIMZY and moviegoers
wondering whether they've forgotten the original story.  The thing is, the
actual *success* of the movie doesn't have much to do with this decision.
There have been great movies on both sides of this balancing act, with (in
my opinion) Peter Jackson brilliantly straddling the middle.

THE DARK IS RISING may well be the best fantasy movie this year.  What it
will not be is _The Dark is Rising_.  But in giving it that title, in
keeping the framework of the original story, the movie's creators are laying
claim to the connection between the two, and laying claim, as well, to the
loyalties of the people who loved the book.  I say that loyalty goes both
ways.

Melissa Proffitt



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