Special Feature: Guest Outlander Review

For those of you who have followed this blog for a lengthy time, you will know how much I LOVE the Outlander series! It is one of the best series I’ve read and I recommend it to almost everyone I meet who like historic fiction.

So it goes without saying that I have been glued to my TV every Saturday night watching the Starz Outlander series which is based on the books. I have been meaning to write a review of the series for quite some time.

I originally planned on writing a review for reach episode, but decided that might be too ambitious for this season….so I think I will write my own review at the end of the season. However for now, one of my friends, Spencer Blohm, asked if I would like to run his review on my blog in the mean time which I clearly agreed to. So sassenachs please enjoy Spencer’s review of the series here! 

Outlander, the television show that recently premiered on the premium Starz network and is based on the series of successful novels written by Diana Gabaldon, has been a long time coming to the screen. Since the first novel’s publication in 1991, Gabaldon has been hesitant to allow her series to be turned into film or any television series. That is, until Ronald D. Moore presented the author with a script that promised a season for each novel, and a plot that hardly veered from the author’s original works. So far, Moore has kept his word, and the show has had wild success and rave reviews, allowing the fans of the novel series to finally enjoy the storyline once again as it unfolds on the small screen.

The series follows the tale of heroine and 1945 combat nurse, Claire Randall. When Claire is unexpectedly transported back in time to 1743, she is forced to marry a Scottish man, Jamie Fraser, for her own protection. Throughout the series, Claire becomes torn between two vastly different men in opposing worlds as she begins a torrid affair with Jamie in her new home, while wondering if she will ever return to 1945 and her first husband, Frank.

Choosing to produce Outlander as a TV series rather than a film was the most logical way to include Gabaldon’s vast and intricate details while also allowing for the gradual pacing of the original novel series. Although the novels have slow pacing, utilizing a television show allowed Moore and the Starz crew an opportunity to break up segments of storylines and plots, creating smaller, episodic climaxes as the characters work toward more action-intense scenes later in the season. This has the dual benefit of sticking closely to Gabaldon’s original work, while also allowing viewers to truly immerse themselves in the character development and overall theme of the show itself without becoming bored. It’s also beneficial for Starz, who smartly followed in the footsteps of HBO and Game of Thrones, reigning in a large number of new subscribers for Starz, or new watchers who didn’t know Starz was included in their cable package (check here for lineup details).

The tactic appears to be working, since Outlander has had wild success in both novel and screen format, and has already been renewed for a second season. This is likely also due to its ability to reach audiences that enjoy a variety of genres. Outlander includes sci-fi features, romantic storylines, dramatic character plots and plenty of mystery, captivating millions of viewers that appreciate a genre-bending tale. Although the original premise of Outlander is romantically inclined, the show features plenty of action, history and sci-fi to add to the variety that the show has to offer. The show is also beautifully done, with historically accurate costumes, use of the Gaelic language, and, of course, the stunning Scotland scenery.

Many reviewers of the first episodes agree that there is definite chemistry between Claire and Jamie, the two lovers who are forced to wed with one another. The narration is seemingly fitting with the atmosphere and setting the book creates, staying relevant and similar to the environment most fans had in mind for the series. Since the novels are through Claire’s perspective, her voiceover is a comforting, if slightly overused, addition to the television series. The cast of characters has also received pleased reviews, with hugely positive responses to the main characters, Jamie and Claire, played by Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

Overall, the show is a well done rendition of the novels, and if it continues on its perceived path should see little wavering in support. Since Gabaldon is a major consultant, chances are the show should have an excellent balance of qualities that will please both fans and new televisions viewers.

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