“Harry Potter, P.I.”

Murphy: What do you see?
Dresden: Just the world. A little darker.

Sci Fi Channel’s original series, The Dresden Files, is based loosely on Jim Butcher’s popular book series. I wasn’t familiar with the series, so if there are significant changes to it, I can’t have a nerd apoplectic fit. Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne, 24) is a modern day wizard (without the long beard and stylish hat, but with his hockey stick as his magic staff) and a paranormal investigator. Though he has a deadpan sense of humor, he also carries the burden of regret in his bearing. Lt. Connie Murphy (Valerie Cruz) of the Chicago Police Department, calls on him as a quasi-consultant for the police force. Rounding out the team is Bob (Terrence Mann), the ghost of a medieval alchemist, as a butler/mentor, the sardonic Alfred to Dresden’s Batman.

With its cast of characters, The Dresden Files will draw inevitable comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel . Angel especially as Harry, too, is a detective of sorts held accountable by a mysterious High Council/Higher Powers, h as more than his share of dark secrets, and is in search of redemption. Not to mention that Angel also began with a close/quirky relationship to a member of the police force. Still, I can’t help thinking this series is more Kolchak the Night Stalker meets the Rockford Files.

“For the working magician, the best tool in his toolbox is a little thing we like to call the false expectation. If played right, it can stun an audience into total submission.” –Harry

There are many spiritual connections in a show like the Dresden Files. The show reminds us that we live in a world of wonder, one of the reality of magic, where there is a spiritual dimension to our existence. Where characters like Liz realize “Safe? There’s no such thing as safe. There’s alive and there’s dead and anything in between is dumb luck” as they are confronted with the reality of evil and are caught up in the battles with the forces of chaos. The show speculates about that spiritual existence and what may come after it– the other side, the middle, it’s the transition–revealing our fascination with “the other side”. Dresden concludes that “We all come from somewhere. We come here, we do this life thing, and we go back.”

Shows like Medium and the Dresden Files reminds us that the occult, unseen spirits, are serious business We don’t like to be reminded of the spiritual battles waged around us, forgetting that the Bible, from beginning to end, is a supernatural book where magic is treated as real. From the sorcerers that competed against Moses before Pharaoh to the diviners, magicians, and sorcerers of the Babylonian court to Simon Magus, the sorcerer who followed the apostles around trying to bribe them to show him how to do miracles.

But the one thing I keep coming back to, as far as a spiritual theme of the show, is the issue of faith.

“The false expectation is also known by more aggressive illusionists as the dashed hope.” –Harry

The only thing that I can think of comparing faith to is love: Finding faith is like falling in love. There is an element of mystery to both, and in any proposition, we’re uncomfortable with mysteries (the “I don’t knows”). There are times while we are falling in love where we feel like we have been chosen and times where we choose to do it. Falling in love catches us off guard and sweeps us up.

“Here’s the thing about the dashed hope: you hit someone hard enough with it at an early age and it can make a blind spot in one’s habitual search for closeness and affection.” –Harry

However, too often we simplify our faith and cling to false ideas of hope. It’s akin to clinging to the idea of romance rather than the reality of love. Faith becomes a “don’t worry, everything will be fine” sort of endeavor that basically only sounds good in the sales pitch. The truth is more along the lines of accepting and following in faith will make your life harder. You will be thought of as intellectually simple, blind, irrational, or fanatical. And the experience of life quickly teaches us that things won’t always seem to work out for the best. We encounter sufferings, nastiness, and darkness and are expected to continue in faith despite these things.

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” Revelation 22:3

There is an expectation of hope, a faith, a reality, that won’t be dashed. Until then, we toil in mysteries and faith; with sights unseen while contending with principalities and powers. Leading many to echo Murphy’s reaction: “I can’t join you there because my rules don’t apply there and I need my rules.”

The Dresden Files has the usual first season bumps as the show/writers find themselves and fine tune the voices of the characters. However, the Dresden Files is off to a good start and I can’t wait for it to develop and deepen its mythology.

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