For this particular TV season here at The Silver Petticoat Review, we’re going to offer flash reviews of many of the new TV series. With dozens of new shows debuting on the broadcast networks, cable, and online streaming, we thought we’d give varying perspectives on many of these new shows.
And then after our own impressions, we want to hear from you and what you thought of these new series. After all, one opinion does not fit all! First up on our list is Outlander!
THE SHOW: Outlander from series creator Ronald D. Moore
WHEN: Saturdays 9 PM ET/PT
THE CAST: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies.
THE SETUP: Based on the acclaimed Outlander Series, the show begins in 1945 at the close of WWII from the perspective of Nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall. After reuniting with her husband Frank, Claire soon finds herself transported back in time to 1743 Scotland. There she stumbles into war and danger only to cross paths with the handsome Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser. Lost in time, can she find her way back to her husband in the present day?
If ever there was an example of how to adapt a novel into a TV series, this would be it. Ronald D. Moore captures the essence of the book series while also creating a visual storytelling masterpiece for a new audience. Both loyal fans of the books and newcomers will love and appreciate this epic historical romance.
Much of the story from the first book remains, in essence, the same thus far, changes only made when it doesn’t work visually for the film medium. The characters even speak Gaelic without translation which creates a stronger atmosphere of being lost in a time and place you don’t quite understand.
Outlander begins a little slow as we are introduced to Claire’s relationship with her husband Frank just as they’ve been reunited after the war. While slow moving, it’s never boring. In fact, the slow pace seems purposeful so that when we are introduced to the chaotic pace of the past it’s that much more jarring for both Claire and the audience together.
We feel what Claire feels. On top of that, the beginning is necessary for us to understand her relationship with her husband Frank and why she wants to get back to him, especially when we meet Jamie (who is so charming and attractive it must remain a believable goal). That said it wasn’t until Claire went mysteriously back in time that I became hooked.
No doubt the best part of the series (besides good writing and an intriguing premise) is the chemistry between the two lead actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. They sizzle on screen and encompass the roles so completely it’s hard to imagine any other actors in these roles. Every scene they share together makes you want them to share more scenes together. The budding relationship between the two makes the series for me. But if romance isn’t your cup of tea, the war, as well as clan politics, should also grab your interest.
Bottom line, I haven’t been this excited about a romantic TV drama since Moonlight. So Moonlight fans you’ll know what I mean when I ask…Is it Saturday yet? I rate it 5 corsets overall and 5 vintage hearts for romance.
Now four episodes in, Outlander has me hooked line and sinker. What I already love about Outlander is that it is really several genres all tangled into one, very compelling premise. It is historical fiction (of two time periods), a romance novel, a time travel love story, with of course some great magical fantasy thrown in.
What Outlander isn’t? Boring! As someone who has never read the books (a problem I soon plan to rectify – though I kind of don’t want to be spoiled just yet), I was sucked into the world as quickly as Claire was sucked into 18th century Scotland.
For those unfamiliar with Outlander, the story begins soon after the end of WWII. Like many married couples during the War, Claire Randall and her husband Frank have barely spent any time with each other. Needing to get to know one another once more, they go on a honeymoon to Scotland.
As they rekindle their love, Claire and Frank happen upon a pagan ritual, magic clearly afloat. Later, out of curiosity, Claire returns to the stones where this ritual occurred. The wind rises and she touches her hands against a large stone. Suddenly, she falls through time and into the world of 18th century Scotland and the excitement begins.
Finding herself amongst a Scottish clan, she becomes a sort of healer (she was a nurse after all). That doesn’t mean, however, that people aren’t suspicious of this modern English Lady with secrets. Is she a spy? Is she a witch? Then there is Jamie, the handsome Highlander she befriends and saves thanks to her modern medical knowledge; their chemistry tangible and swoon-worthy.
For those worried about adultery, don’t be. This isn’t a cheating story, rather a story of survival. Claire still wants to get back to her husband, her circumstances easy to identify with. Nevertheless, the question still remains if indeed she can actually travel forward to her own time. Not to mention, in reality, her husband hasn’t even been born yet. The potential complications are fascinating.
Overall, the rich characterization, the believable accuracy of the time period (right down to the Gaelic dialect and horrific living conditions), the writing (Ronald Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame shines once more), the acting (perfect casting), and the plot has me transfixed once a week (or 2 or 3 times on repeat if I’m being honest).
With the inclusion of time travel as a folktale – opening the doors for truly intriguing mythology, I can’t wait to find out how the story continues to unfold. I also rate this addicting period drama 5 corsets overall and 5 vintage hearts for romance.
NOTE: While this is rated TV-MA, I appreciate that the show isn’t too graphic constantly just because it can be. Outlander is no True Blood or Game of Thrones. For those who prefer clean period drama, I might stay away. However, the adult content thus far is (for the most part) easily skipped over. EDIT: As the series progressed, the content became MUCH more explicit, especially regarding rape and strong nudity. Take this into consideration if you wish to continue (I have since given the show up even though I love the story).
What did you think of Outlander? Let us know in the comments.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”
7 thoughts on “Outlander: Two Takes on the New Romantic Series”
This is hands down my favorite new show and I tried to get into many over the summer. This is the only one that stuck.
The storytelling is fabulous and the casting is even better. There isn’t anything I don’t like about the show so far.
I’m trying to read along with the book as the show goes but if I don’t manage to keep up the pace at least I’ll have that long hiatus between the 1st and 2nd half of the 1st season to catch up… unfortunately.
But, yeah, I totally agree this show is fabulous. I must say though I really liked Frank and their relationship and it made her interaction with Black Jack all the more jarring. All the acting was great but Tobias Menzies was fantastic in the first episode. It almost made me feel like I was watching two different actors between Frank and Black Jack.
This is definitely my favorite show of the summer as well, though I am also really enjoying Extant (not even close though in comparison). And I completely agree with you about Frank and the acting by Tobias Menzies. A lot of actors wouldn’t have been able to pull this off but he does seamlessly. I really believe Frank and Black Jack are two very different people. I can’t wait to see more with both characters.
Outlander is easily one of the best series on TV (or theater). The only fault I have with it is waiting until April 2015 for the next episode!
Loved your reviews.
The very last sentences of this article encompass my views. I knew that the graphic content was coming so I couldn’t really get behind Outlander; and, I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind a story where the distraught husband is out looking for his wife while she’s making eyes at another man. Imagine if it was a male protagonist in Claire’s place? I doubt that would be considered romantic.
I don’t completely disagree. While I loved the series when it started out, it went down a path I just couldn’t get behind any longer.
Just saw this series (2 seasons) last year after hearing that the book had placed high on the PBS Great American Read with Viera. I,
accidentally ran across the dvd at the Library and decided to try it before reading the book.
Now, I can only say that any bit of history was definitely thin and just a backdrop for what was really a pornographic film presented by appealing characters to suck us in. I never want to read the books and I have no interest in seeing the rest of the series.
When I think how many votes were given for these novels, which I heard is much like the series, I despair of the rot people consume and loudly proclaim is a good book. Let me add that, if I am criticizing what might be a good book and should not be judged by the movie, I would say that any writer who would allow a movie like that to be made of her work deserves nothing but frank and honest criticism.
Yeah, I stopped watching about halfway through season one. Unfortunately, it’s just too explicit for my taste. But I admit I was excited about the series at first as I love time travel romance.