Like countless other fans of the Outlander series of novels written by Diana Gabaldon, I have been waiting many years for the series that finally arrived in the USA in August of this year. The first thing I want to say is to Ms. Gabaldon Herself- THANK YOU!! Thank you for waiting until you found the company and crew that would do your series justice.
Apparently the Outlander novels have been in and out of Developmental Hell on and off for years. Speculation and rumors would surface now and again, but nothing ever materialized. Ms. Gabaldon recently stated that every other suggested project had made her want to “turn white or burst into flames”, so it must have been a relief to finally find Ronald D. Moore and company.
All authors dream of seeing their work in other mediums, especially movies or TV. It must be tempting to give in when approached by Hollywood, but so often, the end result falls short of the expectation of readers (and authors). The Powers That Be want to make changes to the story to fit their vision, or what they believe will “sell”. It happens often enough to be a cliché, reminding me of the episode of Family Guy where Brian (the dog) is in Hollywood, discussing his novel adaptation with studio reps. By the end of the meeting, the proposed production is nothing like the original story, to the point where actor James Woods is playing the 13 year old orphan! Another example is “Under the Tuscan Sun”- I loved the movie, but when I picked up the book I realized just how much they had changed the story, the characters, etc. I could not read it, because the images in my head of the movie were so at odds with the novel. So it was a huge thrill to discover that Ron Moore and company were sticking fairly close to the novels, and that Ms. Gabaldon was involved as a consultant.
For what it is worth, here are the reasons why Outlander, The Series has exceeded my expectations so far:
Cinematography- No doubt about it, the Scottish Highlands are gorgeous, and the lush cinematography takes full advantage of the setting. I was fortunate enough to tour the Highlands, and everywhere you look, the scenery is fit for a post card photo. But even the scenes that take place indoors are not too dark and you really get the feel for the place. I loved the flashbacks when Claire was entering the castle for the first time, watching her face as she recalled being there just days before. Eerie and emotional.
Casting– OH. MY. GOD. I cannot at this point imagine anyone else as Jamie, other than Sam Hueghan. He has the physical presence, the voice, the sense of humor, and the chemistry with Caitriona Balfe– Whew!! Claire has come to life with Caitriona’s performance, which is perhaps the most pleasant surprise of all. Even the other actors have taken command of their characters, notably, to me anyway, are Graham McTavish as Dougal, Lotte Verbeek as Geillis, and Tobias Menzes as Frank/Black Jack Randall (shiver). The supporting characters are delightful as well, and I am enjoying recalling them ( Oh, yeah, Ned Gowan! Forgot about him…) as I have not read the early books in several years.
Note: Yes, there has been some spirited “discussion” about the actors not “looking” exactly like the novel described, but I think that is putting too fine a point on it. So what? It cannot be 100% perfect, so do not let that stop you from enjoying the dimensions the actors are bringing to their portrayals.
Adhering to the story– I am also pleased with how they are sticking to the “story”, following the sequence of events. They have taken a few liberties (Claire’s “bath” Frank gave her at the castle ruins, anyone?) but for the most part, they have not detracted but added to the story. Even the Gaelic, while driving me crazy for not knowing what they are saying, adds to the atmosphere and allows us to feel the frustration and confusion right along with Claire. And, no, the voiceovers do not bother me, as long as they keep it to a minimum.
The Music– Love it! Excellent job by Bear McCreary (of Walking Dead fame, among other things). Although I found it disconcerting when they played 1940’s Big Band music while Claire was in 1743. I know what they were going for, but it caused me to expect a flashback to the 1940’s, and there was none. Stick to the time period, guys. Oh- If the opening theme gets stuck in your head, add it to your phone as a ringtone, so everyone around you can join in. Zedge has it on their app, and it is also on iTunes.
Costumes– An expert might nitpick, but to me, they are awesome. I love Claire’s wardrobe, and cannot get enough of men in kilts, so I am a happy camper. I like how everyone gets dirty, too- those were tough times, and it seems a bit more authentic with the mud and blood and other nasty stuff.
The Fans- Here’s what adds another dimension to the sheer pleasure of watching the show: the play-by-play and wrap-up comments on Twitter, #Outlander. It’s like having all the other fans in the world in your living room watching with you. Facebook is constantly abuzz now with comments, questions, and drooling over photos. Several blogs also do recaps, but my favorite is The Outmander’s Blog, A Regular Guy’s Recaps of Outlander. It is wonderful to know a guy would read and appreciate the books, and to hear his perspective is informative and often hilarious.
So here is what I DO NOT like about Outlander-
- Having to wait each week for the next episode! But I console myself by re-watching what I have recorded. Amazing what you miss the first time around!
- Only 8 episodes, and then we have to WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR?? That is just mean.
But the good news is a second season has been ordered already, so there is that to look forward to. The show has had tremendous positive response, not only from diehard fans, but viewers who have not yet read the books. So, yeah, it was worth the long, painful wait.
What are your favorite parts of the show? Anything you wish they would change?