One of my friends told me about how he went to a signing of Jim Butcher’s during the run of the Dresden Files show (note lack of recommendation) running on Sy Fy (it may have been Sci Fi at the time) and mentioned the show when he got to his turn in line. My bud told me that Butcher’s response was phrased exceptionally carefully. Something like “I’m pleased that they like my books enough to try to make a show from them.” 

Well, if you watched the show, you see all of the semiotics of Butcher’s statement.

So you may think that we’ll never see a show capture all of the little things that make Butcher’s books really fun. Well… we probably won’t. However! One of my friends pointed me to a show that he said was Dresden without the wizarding. Burn Notice.

I know! When I first heard that, I whipped my head around and said “what are you talking about, Willis?” and he explained to me all of the little things.

Dresden explains the intricacies of building a protection spell. Michael Westen explains the intricacies of building a perimeter. Dresden would explain how a fireball works, Westen explains where to put the explosives. There’s the supporting cast that doesn’t have 1:1 overlap with the books, but the high notes are hit… you’ve got the handler who keeps telling Michael that he’s going to get himself killed, you’ve got the friend (BRUCE FREAKIN’ CAMPBELL) who gets Michael in trouble under the excuse of bringing him work, you’ve got the love interest who is probably bad news… well, Michael has Mom who doesn’t really have an analogue in the Dresden books. She’s an awesome character though.

More importantly, they capture the most addictive thing about the Dresden books: the whole “little arc, big arc” thing. Every show is self-contained for the most part… except for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. Those 4 or 5 minutes are dedicated to the arc of the season. So you sit down for your 45 minute television show and you see the procedural work its way through: Person needs help, person convinces Michael to help, Michael has conversation with Gabrielle Anwar and BRUCE FREAKIN’ CAMPBELL, we get a brief tutorial on the best way to build a bug out of a kiddie cell phone and two good ones, we see Jeffrey Donovan affect a pretty good accent from somewhere exotic, we talk to Mom, we learn just the tiniest piece of the story pertaining to the storyline of why Michael got burned in the first place, the person gets helped, we run the credits… and you want to watch the next episode to find out where those 4 or 5 minutes take us next.

It’s a solid action/spy show but if you watch it as the Dresden show you’re never going to end up seeing? It magically turns into an awesome one.

So that’s my recommendation for you this week.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


      • I read the first one, which I found breezily entertaining, but got bored by the second one and never got around to finishing it. Do they get better, I assume?

        • I found the third one the weakest of the series.

          The first one is pretty good, as these things go. The second one does more to establish rules and characters than engage in a plot. The third one does more to explain the universe than anything else *BUT*!!!!!

          In the third one we meet Michael (you’re going to *LOVE* Michael).

          The fourth one is back to being as good as the first.

          The fifth one is where we really, really, really, really get going.

          It was around this point where I would show up at my friend’s (Hey, Dman!) at 7PM on a weeknight ringing the bell and saying “dude, I need the next two books”. (This was between book 11 and book 12… I purchased my own copy of book 12.)

  1. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but you’re right there’s a real parallel between Burn Notice and the Dresden Files.

    • No prob, Jaybird. I love being a book pusher. “The first series is free. The next one is going to cost you!”

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