Starz In Our Eyes for Outlander
Starz In Our Eyes for Outlander

Last August thousands of fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series were parked at their TV sets—many of them gathered at fan parties—to share the premiere episode of “Outlander,” the new series. Some of the avid readers of Ms. Gabaldon’s epic series (me among them) had waited 20 years for this event. Although proposed as a movie some years ago, ironically it’s the small screen that has given full scope to the ongoing story of Claire and Jamie Fraser that spans history from 1743 in Scotland a little before the disastrous Battle of Culloden through the American Revolution on our side of the world.

As the first episode aired, tweets and comments and dedicated Facebook pages flourished, each recounting some aspect of the story. Although technically, the Outlander series is Claire’s story, as every reader will tell you it quickly becomes Jamie’s story even when he’s not present. We all know how tricky it is to translate a book to the screen without changing it substantially. Sometimes these changes are done simply for dramatic effect or because the scope of a three-dimensional medium allows more options. More often than not, the viewer simply hates the screen version and loves the book or vice versa. Outlander stands alone! Everyone loves both versions. The producers have avoided the tempting trap of exploiting the film medium for effect and have stuck to the storyline which is exciting enough in and of itself without any embellishments.

The casting is about as perfect as has ever been done in any film or series. For example, what would Gone With the Wind have been without Clark Gable? In the case of Outlander, I always had a vague mental picture of Jamie Fraser a big auburn-haired Scot. Now I frankly can’t imagine Jamie Fraser as anyone else but Sam Heughan’s alter ego. Catriona Balfe is likewise the perfect foil for Jamie with her understated beauty. Okay, for you purists out there, it’s true that Sam is actually blond, but with the miracle of dye, he looks like he should have been born auburn-haired. And Sam is as tall as Gabaldon’s depiction of Jamie, six-foot-three of handsome native Scot.

The first part of the series is filmed in Scotland, and the land itself is so breathtaking that it provides a living backdrop to the action. For all the filming in Scotland, British fans of Ms. Gabaldon’s books haven’t yet seen the first half of Season One of the series and have little hope of seeing the remainder of Season One this year. There are negotiations going on to bring the series to Britain next year. Meanwhile, we Americans can bask in our good fortune.

The first eight episodes were spectacular but the gossip is that the second half of Season One will be monumental, giving more depth to the relationship between Claire and Jamie and a heart-rending finish of the season. Take heart, gentle viewers, the best is yet to come. Season Two was approved soon after Season One began. That should speak for itself as to the immense popularity of the show. Meanwhile, if you don’t subscribe to Starz, either contact your cable or satellite provider before April 4 or cozy up to a good friend who gets the Starz lineup.

If you absolutely can’t wait, just Google the series or Sam’s or Catriona’s names and you’ll be stuck to your computer for weeks. By then April won’t seem so very far away.

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