A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this supernaturally tinged crime drama contains fantasy elements (wizards, ghostly creatures, magical spells, etc.) that could be scary to younger viewers. There's some violence, both realistic and fantasy -- such as a bad guy punching the main character repeatedly, drawing blood. Other minor adult elements include the main character waking up in bed with a woman, brief kissing scenes, and a quick look at a woman in her underwear. Brief glimpses of creepy, mildly gruesome elements (like a skinless corpse) occur semi-regularly.
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What's the story?
In THE DRESDEN FILES -- based on the popular books by Jim Butcher -- Chicago-dwelling Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is a private detective who also happens to be a wizard. Harry's special powers and connections with otherworldly spirits help him (and hurt him) while he solves cases and assists his friend on the police force, Lt. Connie Murphy (Valerie Cruz). Harry solves crimes and gets to the bottom of mysterious events with the help of his more typically wizard-like sidekick, Bob (Terrence Mann), but Bob's powers are limited, so he often finds himself reluctantly reliant on Harry and the two consequently bristle around each other. While most episodes focus on a single case, clues to Harry's past and larger mysteries -- like the details surrounding his mother's death -- reveal themselves more slowly. The backstory also gets fleshed out through flashbacks that show Harry's non-wizardly father (who, coincidently, was a party magician) raising him.
Is it any good?
Thanks to the mystery surrounding the death of his enchanted mother and a childhood spent hiding and honing his magical skills, Harry Dresden superficially resembles another particularly notable wizard named Harry. But this Harry's wry sense of humor and Joe Schmo demeanor set him apart from your typical wand waver. He dates waitresses, drives an ancient Jeep, and looks a little rumpled around the edges.
With some ghoulish figures and potentially scary plotlines -- like the abduction of a child or the evil possession of a schoolteacher (one particularly nasty character magically skinned its victims, leading to brief glimpses of skinless bodies onscreen) -- The Dresden Files is best for mature tweens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about crime shows. What do they all have in common? What sets this one apart from the others? What's the appeal of crime dramas? Does the fact that there are so many of them on TV make crime seem more present in our lives? What things about police and detective work do people learn from these shows? Families can also talk about magic. Do you believe in the kind of supernatural powers Harry has? Why are people so fascinated by the idea of magic in general?