TV Review: 'Dresden' defeats purpose of 'Galactica' move

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This is the show Sci Fi Channel thinks can boost viewership for "Battlestar Galactica"? It's enough to lead a battle-weary Colonial soldier to curse with a terse "frak," a fictional "Battlestar" profanity.

Tonight Sci Fi moves "Galactica" to 10 p.m., airing it after its new series, "The Dresden Files" (9 p.m.), the story of a Chicago detective who's also a wizard. Well, that's what the press notes say, but in the two episodes sent for review, he doesn't really pull many Harry Potter-style tricks, save for his ability to survive a bullet wound.

"Dresden" seems an unlikely "Galactica" companion. Where "Galactica" is complex, "Dresden" is simple. It would be a better fit with "Stargate" or "Eureka."

British-born actor Paul Blackthorne (he played baddie Stephen Saunders on the third season of "24") sounds like he's imitating Peter Gallagher ("The O.C.") to play Dresden.

The premiere includes flashbacks to a young Dresden in 1981, revealing he had a magician father, a prematurely deceased mother and an "Uncle Justin" who has something to do with a "high council," presumably of wizards. Or maybe ravens that turn into wizards? It's all pretty murky.

Dresden's investigations amount to a lot of ho-hum hokum -- a child with special gifts in need of protection, a bad guy who jumps from body to body -- and his relationships are largely paint-by-number bland. That's especially true of his friendship (or could it be more?) with a Chicago cop (Valerie Cruz).

More intriguing is Dresden's friendship with Bob (Terrence Mann, who's the best thing about this show). Press notes describe Bob as Dresden's "ghost-like confidante," but the show is pretty unclear on whether or not Bob is an actual ghost. Whatever/whoever Bob is, he gets the best dialogue.

"These equations are very precise," Bob says while apparently writing in the air (special effects were incomplete on episodes sent for review). "If you walk through them, I will start singing show tunes from the 16th century."

But a few quips from a pale pal may not be enough to keep the audience from -- Poof! -- disappearing midway through cases out of "The Dresden Files."

Steve Wilkie
Paul Black-thorne stars with Valerie Cruzas in the Sci Fi Channel's new series, "The Dresden Files."
Click photo for larger image.
"The Dresden Files"

When: 9 tonight, Sci Fi Channel.

Starring: Paul Blackthorne.

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582.


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