Bits And Pieces

My sister-in-law is partway through her final check of the Action Figures manuscript, and so far the errors are few and far between. She probably won’t be done by the end of the month as hoped, but as long as I can meet my goal of getting the book out to the public sometime in August, I can deal.

The willing suspension of disbelief is always an interesting study in contrasts, and my wife and I had some stark differences of opinion about Pacific Rim, which we saw on Saturday. I grew up on Japanese movies and cartoons featuring giant monsters and robots fighting it out, so the movie was great fun for me; I wanted big-ass robots fighting big-ass monsters, and that’s what I got, and I was content.

Veronica, however, couldn’t forgive the idea that the best way to fight gigantic city-wrecking monsters was with titanic robots that, for the most part, did nothing but punch them. She thought it was stupid, and yeah, from a very practical, realistic perspective, it is a dumb idea…but I didn’t bat an eye because, in the context of this movie, it made perfect sense.

The irony is when we went to the theater the next day to see RED 2, which she enjoyed a lot and I found entertaining enough, but not great. I reminded her that the original RED featured Bruce Willis stepping out of a car in mid-spin and, somehow, avoiding having his legs swept out from under him by the tail end by walking at a normal pace, and John Malkovich shooting an anti-tank rocket out of the air with a handgun. Those things, she had no problem with.


After sitting on my Netflix queue forever, I fired up SyFy‘s The Dresden Files series from 2007. I expected some changes from Jim Butcher‘s novel series (one I recommend picking up, BTW, because the books are damned addictive) because of the jump from printed medium to visual, but I’m finding myself struggling to like the TV version.

I understand that a straight adaptation of the series might have been problematic due to the depth of the source material and the limitations of the budget (which are very obvious at times), and a more streamlined version made the show more practical to produce and more accessible to non-fans, but some of the changes feel arbitrary or not fully thought out.

The changes I like, or at least am okay with:

* Giving Bob the skull — in the novels a spirit of knowledge who appears mostly as, well, a skull — a human appearance and making him more of a sidekick. The novels are told from a first-person perspective, so a lot of the text is Harry Dresden’s internal monolog. Having Harry self-narrate constantly would get annoying fast, so having someone to talk to addresses the issue.

* Turning Harry’s staff and blasting rod into a hockey stick and a drumstick. I’m only partway through the 12-episode run, so this may be addressed at some point, but it looks like the show made Harry’s distinctively wizard-y tools more mundane in appearance to explain why he carries them around Chicago and no one much bats an eye.

Changes I don’t like and/or don’t get:

* Changing Lieutenant Karrin Murphy — Harry’s Chicago PD connection — into Connie Murphy. The name change has no point.

* The same goes for the White Council, the wizarding world’s inner circle, into the “High Council.” I think viewers could have grasped the concept without the name change.

* Back to Lt. Murphy: she has a kid in the show. In the books, her lack of interest in becoming a parent is a rather significant element of her character. Again, having seen only about half the run, the son may become a story point, and it strikes me as the only reason why the show gave her a child: for the sake of a future storyline.

* The magic. The rules of magic in the TV setting, if they exist, are unclear, and Harry doesn’t use much magic. In five episodes he’s used his staff once, his shield bracelet once, his blasting rod (his “magic wand” in the show) twice (in a situation in which he should not have even had it on him), his pentacle not at all, and other applications of spellcraft have been few and far-between. I imagine budgetary constraints played into this.

I could go on at length, but I won’t. I’ll probably watch the show through (it’s only 12 episodes) and then go back to devouring the books.


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