Has anyone seen the first episode of Outlander on Starz? For now, you can get it for free by visiting Starz.com. I watched on my computer but it’s also available On Demand if you have Time Warner Cable or similar.
I always cringe when a movie or TV series is made from a favorite book. We’ve all seen unsuccessful attempts and worry: Will the action be true to the book? Will the actors resemble the people we’ve imagined?
|The official poster|
A friend recommended OUTLANDER shortly after it was published in 1991. Her description sounded genre bending and not at all appealing, but she insisted I read it. So I did. And I loved it. I have since read all of the books in Diana Gabaldon’s series, except for WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, which was released in June. The author has an interesting history. She holds degrees in Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology. She wrote OUTLANDER in secret, just to see if she was capable of writing a novel.
The books are part time-travel, part historical novel, part steamy romance and totally engaging. The history fascinated me because I have Scottish kin on my father’s side and I loved reading about that period in history. I’ve also traveled in the highlands of Scotland and found it enchanting.
As for OUTLANDER, the casting is inspired. Claire and Jamie look mostly as I imagined them. As Claire, Caitriona (pronounced Katrina) Balfe’s acting chops seem up to the task. She reminds me a bit of Cate Blanchett.
|Caitriona Balfe as Claire|
|Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser|
Production-wise, I thought there was an over reliance on voice overs and the pace was—shall we say—leisurely, but seeing it made me want to reread the book.
Most authors wonder who would be cast to play the characters in their novels. Who would make a good Maisie Dobbs? Jake Lassiter? Tom Eriksen in BORDER WARS? A friend once told me she envisioned Hilary Swank as Tucker Sinclair. I was surprised but later thought her observation was spot on.
For the uninitiated, OUTLANDER begins at the end of WWII. Claire Randall has spent the war years working as a combat nurse where she has become accustomed to making life-and-death decisions. In other words: She's no wimp. Now that the war is over, she and her husband Frank travel to Scotland on a second honeymoon to get reacquainted after years spent apart. During their stay, Claire visits a group of standing stones.
While there, she touches the rocks and is transported back to 1743 Scotland in the midst of the Jacobite rebellion against English rule. And that’s when the real fun begins.
With the positive buzz, including a good review in the Los Angeles Times, the STARZ series seems headed for a successful run. I'm glad the OUTLANDER powers-that-be got it right. Congratulations to all involved.