I am a simple, geeky woman who enjoys watching sexy people in tight pants try to solve mystical riddles while being cosmo-blasted by otherworldly beings. So the new Sci Fi Channel series The Dresden Files (debuting Jan. 21), about modern-day wizard Harry Dresden (24’s Paul Blackthorne), was all the more disappointing. I’d wanted the series, based on the Jim Butcher novels, to be the next Buffy. Or at least the next Charmed. Instead it’s an uneven fantasy series that’s not eerie enough to be a culty favorite (The X-Files) or goofy enough to be a guilty pleasure (Sabrina the Teenage Witch).
Harry was born with magical powers, from his mother’s side. Now he has a Ghostbusters-style detective agency, a cop buddy (Invasion’s Valerie Cruz), and a dry-witted medieval ghost-pal named Bob (Broadway vet Terrence Mann). Harry’s cases tangle him up with supernatural Egyptian tablets, girl ghosts, and creatures called Ravens, who look a lot like Frankenberry. These are all, in my book, pluses. But Dresden has yet to discover the delicate mixture of sincerity and humility that a good modern sci-fi series must have. It shoots from throwaway inside jokes (Harry bumblingly interrogates a billionaire in an ode to Columbo) to clumsy, child-obvious plot points (Harry’s cop pal actually cuts herself on his doorknob during an episode that will clearly involve the need for her DNA). Wizard-as-detective is a great, geek-intensive idea, but I’m not feeling the magic. C