Danger Gal Friday: Lt. Connie Murphy

This week’s Danger Gal Friday is Lt. Connie Murphy from the SciFi Channel’s series The Dresden Files, based on Jim Butcher’s best-selling novels.

Lt. Connie MurphyThe character of Lt. Connie Murphy, played by actress Valerie Cruz, is interesting and unique in several ways. First, the TV series writers captured Butcher’s voice well, usually a difficult feat when a story crosses from novel to television. I experienced the TV series first, but since I’ve started reading the novels I can hear Harry Dresden narrating—and I hear it in Paul Blackthorne’s voice. So it’s interesting that the changes the TV writers made mesh so well with its source material, even though those changes are in some ways fundamental.

For instance, In the TV series, gone is Dresden’s trademark duster; a hockey stick replaces his walking staff; an old Jeep Wrangler replaces his blue VW Beetle. And in the series Murphy is a thirty-something Latina with an Irish surname, as opposed to her blond and blue-eyed counterpart in the novels.

Even more interesting, there has been no over-wrought attempt to explain this Latin-Irish heritage, which is refreshing. Murphy is just who she is, and the writers haven’t felt compelled to dole out the typical cliches of the female-ethnic-minority-cop-with-no-real-authority. Both Murphys are experts in law enforcement.

Aside from all that, TV Murphy is also a working divorced mother and a real tough cop. She has a few father issues, but so does Dresden. While her marriage didn’t work out, she’s not drawn as a woman who has shut herself off from relationships in order to take on a man’s role as a police officer. TV Murphy is an amalgamation of two characters from the book: Murphy and Susan Rodriguez, a journalist in the paranormal media and Harry’s love interest. Both characters are interesting, and while I enjoy these novels even more for the presence of two strong female characters, I understand that in TVland sometimes less is more.

Finally, both Murphys dress appropriately for their jobs. We don’t see TV Murphy running around in strappy heels or low-cut tops. She doesn’t look boyish, and yet doesn’t feel compelled to show cleavage to prove she’s a woman. More and more I’m noticing TV and movie costumers choosing more appropriate wardrobes for women in what were once typically male roles.

So, if you haven’t had a chance to watch The Dresden Files yet, go check it out. The series is really very interesting,* and as is often the case, the books are even better.

* If nothing else, check out Terence Mann, Rum Tum Tugger himself, as a ghost named Bob.