Special Feature: Series Review STARZ OUTLANDER

Dinna fash Outlander and Lit Bitch fans, I am posting my review of the series for you!

I toyed with the idea of reviewing each episode in great detail but then decided that a collective review would be better suited to my writing style.

So here you have it, after eight weeks I feel as though I have seen enough to write a review of the series.

Outlander has hands down been one of the most satisfying book series that I have read. And many of you know that I have hosted the Outlander Reading Challenge for a couple of years now…..though I did take this year off I will be bringing it back for the 2015 reading challenge season so be watching!

The first book in the series, Outlander, is hands down a classic. It’s steamy, sexy, historic, reflective, philosophical, romantic, adventurous, and thrilling. There were many many things I loved. So naturally I had high expectations for the STARZ series.

Initially, I was not entirely sold on Sam Heughan as Jamie. When I read the series, I saw Jamie as this tall, cocky Scot and to me, Heughan just didn’t quite fit what I visualized in a physical sense. I also wondered if he could pull off the sassy Scot attitude wise. In the first episode Sassenach, when he told Claire he would carry her back to the others if he must, I saw a hint of that sass I was so longing to see in Jamie but it was only a hint for me. However, as the series went on, I really began to warm up to him, especially in episode three The Way Out. In that episode, he became Jamie for me. I can even pin point it….when he walked onto the platform to pull the boy’s ear away from the post….it was something about the way he carried himself and spoke, that cemented him in that role for me. Now I can’t imagine anyone else playing Jamie. I’m not really into gingers…..but for him, I could be.

For Claire, Caitriona Balfe, seemed like a good choice. At first I thought she was a little too old to play opposite Heughan but that’s kind of the interesting part about Claire and Jamie’s relationship….she’s a woman, not a lassie. For me, Claire looked older in the 1940’s than she did in the 1700’s. I don’t know if it was how she was dressed in the 40’s but she just looked older and more matronly in that period. In the 1700’s though she seemed more vivacious and youthful. Her acting impressed me immensely. She has that wispy, longing part of Claire’s personality down. She isn’t seen as weak but she clearly is conflicted about her situation and her feelings. I thought she did a stellar job at the nude/sex scenes, Claire in the books is a very sexual person and isn’t afraid to be the aggressor, I found this quality tasteful and believable in Balfe’s portrayal of Claire. Balfe pulled off Claire’s musings so well….they way she spoke was eloquent and wishful, especially in the opening scene of the series, Sassenach, when she talks about the vase. I loved how she embodied Claire’s character in that scene. Wonderfully done.

My only concern about both of them as actors….how are they going to look as they ‘age’ when the second book goes into production?

Here’s the big question….did the two have enough chemistry? Absolutely! Besides the obvious The Wedding episode, the sexual tension began mounting in the Castle Leoch episode. It continued building throughout the rest of the episodes at a steady pace and I really enjoyed watching them fall in love on screen.

As for Black Jack Randall/Frank Randall, I thought it was brilliant casting Tobias Menzies in the part. He is quite sexy and classic in his role as Frank. He’s clearly mature, and reserved as Frank is in the novels, but yet has a air about him that says sexy and appealing. Menzies plays a period piece well, again because he has that classic, timeless look which makes him suitable for both the 1940’s and the 1700’s. I was also impressed with his calibur of acting. I loved him in Game of Thrones and Edmure Tully and even more so in Outlander. I am excited to see the depth and feeling he brings to Black Jack in the future episodes.

As for the supporting cast, Graham McTavish was pretty hot for an older Scot. He plays the part of Dougal MacKenzie very very well. It was easy to despise him but at the same time he was also likable at moments in the show.

Murtagh, well we didn’t get to see too much of him in the show, but the parts we did see him I thought he was cast well and added a layer of mystery to the plot. Geillis Duncan was also cast wonderfully, she was sexy and mysterious and I’m excited to see how her character evolves. Angus and Rupert were provided comic relief and I thought they were both entertaining supporting cast mates.

And lastly….Laoghaire Mackenzie. When I read her in the novels, I expected her to be a little more sexy in the show. However, she pulled off the young and innocent lassies well.

The only supporting actor that I didn’t necessarily love was Colum MacKenzie. I thought he tended to over act a bit in parts. It wasn’t terrible but I did find myself thinking he was a little too over the top for the situation.

The setting was a character unto itself. In the books, Scotland plays practically it’s own character. Having it filmed anywhere besides Scotland would have been sacrilege! I loved seeing all the beautiful landscapes of the country…..exquisite!

The costume design was amazing! I loved all the kilts and period wardrobes. All those Scots even made the barrette hat look hot! I love highland attire and they all did a fantastic job getting everything just right. However, one small thing….the pearls that Jamie gave Claire on their wedding…..in the books they sounded a lot shorter and I just thought the long strand of pearls weren’t exactly right.

Sure they made the sex scene look very romantic and artistic but I was thinking they were more of a practical item with great symbolic value. The long strand just seemed off for me.

The music and intro I think work well. I’m in love with the intro song….and so is my dog, her ears perk up when it comes on. I think the song fits the story well and I love how the intro doesn’t really show faces of any of the characters. I love that, it adds a layer of mystery for me.

OK now lets get right down to the episode everyone is talking about….The Wedding. I think it followed the book nicely. I love that we only had snap shots of the wedding itself rather than telling it in a linear fashion, it kind of jumped around. I loved it, I thought it added to the sexual tension and anticipation as well. The directors kept some of the best lines in the book which was also perfect! The sex scenes were sensual, hot, and artistically done. Again, a 10.

My biggest complaint about the series so far…..cutting it in half! I was looking forward to 16 weeks of uninterrupted highland romance and suddenly we only have 8 episodes and a ‘mid season break’. How unbelievably disappointing! I want more!

Overall rating of the series so far: A-

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3 Comments

  1. I am so obsessed with this show. Usually the lead female annoys me but I have the biggest girl crush on Claire. She is funny and smart and drinks with the boys. I love the most that she used her head and tries to get out of trouble instead of rushing into it. And of course Jaime is the most gorgeous man I’ve seen book wise. I didn’t like him at first but his looks totally grew on me. I promptly purchased the first 3 books after the last episode. I can’t wait till I can dive into them! Great great great review!

    Reply
  1. Special Feature: OUTLANDER Returning to STARZ | The Lit Bitch

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