Review of the OUTLANDER Premier on Starz

Property of Starz Entertainment, LLC. Outlander @2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc.

Property of Starz Entertainment, LLC. Outlander @2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc.

Alright, so I can’t resist. I can’t even claim for this to be a “what do series adaptations teach us about our writing” post (or maybe I can).

There are folks who can’t quite get into (or through) the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon series, someone, even a couple of people on this blog (ahem, I’m not naming names). But those of us who do love the series, LOVE the series. We’re talking totally obsessed, fan-girl-type obsession.

Because, oh, the deeply-drawn characters, the vivid descriptions, the unexpected twists, the rich setting, not to mention drama, history, politics, adventure, and of course the love story that spans decades!!! See? And I’m telling you, I am not one who has time to obsess over anything. But I’ve been excited about both Gabaldon’s newest release Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Bk 8), and the Starz series. And so, intending to tell my daughter where the good stuff really started, I re-read the beginning of Outlander (Bk 1), and determined to reread An Echo in the Bone (Bk 7) in order to fully enjoy the new one. Except, oops, my “browse” of A Breathe of Snow and Ashes (Bk 6), turned into a full read… Meanwhile, the power of promotion was hard at work. A fellow restaurant patron overheard the cashier ask what I was reading and commented “yeah, they are making a series.” I gushed, of course. Then, wow, when I saw that there was a YouTube video of the cast on a Comic Con panel. I saw Diana Gabaldon, Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) on CBS morning news. So, when—eeek!—Starz offered the first episode free on demand a whole week ahead of the official premiere? Well, I finally took time for me, and did something completely out of character—I sat myself down in front of the tube in the middle of the afternoon! I can’t tell you how psyched I was as I hit play, and again, at each new scene.

[To access the Starz episode: http://www.starz.com%5D

And man, did Starz and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore deliver! All the leads are cast perfectly. The only supporting character who might not have been (IMHO) was Murtagh, and that had nothing to do with acting. It’s only that Murtagh is supposed to be quite ugly…and this actor was certainly not. (Murtagh is not named in the episode but he’s the one who saves Claire from Black Jack Randall and delivers her to the Scottish outlaws.)

Truly, Balfe was brilliant, it was so cool to see the actor Tobias Menzies switch between Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall, and seriously, five lines from Sam Heughan and I was in love with Jaime all over again. The Scottish brogue, the teasing glint in his eye, his wise words. And, yeah, there’s the fact that he’s smokin’ HOT. The adaptation is very close to the beginning of the book. As far as I noticed, the only thing left out was the pub scene where Claire meets the elderly plant collector who then takes her out looking for specimens. Hardly important. But even the little things were thrilling, like hearing the correct pronunciation of “Sassenach.” I will say, I never pictured the highlanders in those cute little caps. What I wonder are they called? Truly, my only disappointment was that there were no preview scenes for the next episode! Because I wanted more.

So—yes, I can relate this to writing—why is it that, optioned for the big screen or no—readers so love a book series? Is it the chance to dive deep into character and stay there? Learn more about a certain world in each subsequent story? Watch a relationship flare, steady, and thrive? Is it the comfort of returning to a setting we love, like coming home? To embrace again characters that feel as familiar as family?

Tell me, why it is you love series? Which are your favorites? And, most importantly, are you writing them?

[As a sidenote: yes, I’ve changed my pen name, from Jenna Blue to JB Schroeder. Expect a future post about it…]

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19 Comments

  1. JB (love your new/real author name BTW.LOL.) I’d have to sit here all day to comment, because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series. It’s been favorite of mine for years. I’ve read and re-read the series a few times. The Starz series certainly delivers too. I’m so pleased that the cast is true to the book descriptions. Jamie is spot on, and the actor is not only gorgeous to look at, but you can see how he’s encompassed the emotions of the characters in his expressions and eyes. The series itself is long, and if you’re not a fan, you may think it’s a bit much in terms of details and settings and characters. The love story of Jamie and Claire is the backbone of the series but not always in the forefront, so that may put off die-hard romance fans. I’m hooked on the series, and like you, have watched the first episode a few…ahem…times. Plus, I just finished the last book at 2AM…no spoilers but a good read…and again…I want more to come…just hope it won’t be another five years in coming. Thanks for the recap and your enthusiasm….I share it all around.

    Reply
  2. JB Schroeder

     /  August 12, 2014

    Nicole! Soooo agree about Jamie. I can’t believe you and I haven’t gushed over this for hours!!! We are obvioulsy not having enough non-biz convo’s! I am attempting to skim Book 7 before I go and buy Book 8 (which will have to wait until either vacation or September because I am Swamped here!). Thanks so much for visiting (and for the kudos on the name change)!

    Reply
  3. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  August 12, 2014

    Hi JB! I LOVE this post. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I haven’t read the series, but because of your love for it, I found myself looking for it last week on TV. I didn’t know about the free offer. When I went to watch it, I was told I had to subscribe so I haven’t seen it yet, and now because I don’t get that channel, I’m afraid I never will! A vote from you is really all I need, so I’m on the hunt! You have never steered me wrong! Your breathless excitement has me hooked.

    I think the ONLY time I’ve gone all out fan girl, standing in line at B&N for the latest book, and reading EVERY book in the series to prepare for each book as it was released, re-reading each book in preparation for the films was Harry Potter. I know…so far from what you might expect, right? I do think you touched upon why we fall in love with series. For me it mainly came down to characterization. I just really fell in love with that boy wizard and was determined to see his journey through to the end.

    Reply
  4. JB Schroeder

     /  August 12, 2014

    RoseAnn, au contraire, I know you love your YA’s! ; ) And Harry is very deserving, J.K.Rowling amazing…so, there. : ) Go straight to the Starz site and watch on your laptop. You shouldn’t have any trouble there, shouldn’t need to be a subscriber. It didn’t ask me anything, just started playing. And let me know what you think–the start is a wee bit slow, but once she goes back in time, most folks are hooked!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  August 12, 2014

      THANK YOU!!!! Can’t wait. I will report in. Were it not for your INSISTENCE I would be living in a world in which I never read The Hunger Games. I’m with you! 🙂

      Reply
  5. I enjoyed the first book in the series, but never went on to the subsequent books. But the TV series has inspired me! I plan to read all 8.

    I think the casting is great, and I love what they’ve done with the pacing. My only complaint–and it’s so minor–is that I always pictured Jamie very big and brawny. Sam doesn’t really come off that way, although he is very pretty. I guess we have to take the good with the bad.

    FYI, the creator of the TV series, Ron Moore, live tweeted the first show. (@RonDMoore) His photos and insight into the production were GREAT. I really hope he live tweets the rest in the series.

    Reply
  6. JB Schroeder

     /  August 12, 2014

    I actually agree, Joanna! Sam isn’t as large as I imagined Jaime, but hey, we can’t have everything, can we? : ) I think his acting will make up for the brawn, actually…I am so excited that you watched! And I didn’t know Ron Moore live tweeted–super cool!

    Reply
  7. What can I say? When they take your very favorite books and make the first one into a series? Oh, joy! SUCH an adventure!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  August 13, 2014

      Yay, another fan from NJRW! : ) Thanks for visiting, Kathleen!

      Reply
  8. Hi JB. I am one of the gang who hasn’t read the book or watched the show. Mostly out of worry that I’ll become obsessed over something else and not having the time to keep reading. But after hearing so much about it, I may watch it on my computer. Right now, I’m still going through J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series through audio book. I do love reading a series. I especially like it when I find a new author and can binge read to catch up. It was like that for me when I read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, too. I also like writing a series because I can really get up close and personal with the characters and family/friends.

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  August 13, 2014

      I totally hear you, Maria. I do not have time to be obsessed! : ) This is probably my only exception. I loved Game of Thrones but didn’t read past 1 because I didn’t have time–chose the HBO series (less overall hours and I can fold laundry) and am moving very slowly through it. Hopefully that will work for you, too! You are a Robyn Carr Virgin River fan , too, yes? : )

      Reply
  9. Okay, I’m one of the non-obsessed folks. I read the first book and thought it was terrific. However, when I started reading the second book, it seemed like more of the same somehow and I ended up not going further in the series. However, I still fully intend to watch the show because I did hugely enjoy that first book. Everyone seems to be pretty happy with the television version and I’m a sucker for men in kilts with Scottish accents.
    I like your new pen name a lot, BTW. Good change!

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  August 13, 2014

      Try it, Nancy, try it! (I’m reversing our roles, I’m the cheerleader now!) : ) Agreed, love the kilts, but it’s the accent that really grabs you. Thanks for visiting and so glad you like the pen name change!

      Reply
  10. They’re called ‘slouch caps.” 😉

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  August 13, 2014

      Thank you, Dahlia! I’m happy to know that! I don’t remember them being mentioned in the books (so many details in those books I could easily have missed!) Are you a Scot, yourself? Travel extensively? Write Scottish Romances? Do tell! And thanks for stopping by and sharing this cool tidbit!

      Reply
  11. Great post, JB! Such praise makes me think I should give it a try – there is something about men in kilts…

    Reply
    • JB Schroeder

       /  August 15, 2014

      You should! You should! : ) Absolutely, those kilts! Thanks, Tina!

      Reply
  12. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  August 18, 2014

    JB, I held off reading your post because I didn’t know if there would be spoilers. I love your enthusiasm!

    I still haven’t seen the first episode, although I love the book series. Problem is, I don’t have Starz, so if I watch the first episode, I’m going to want more. And I’m going to have to wait, like with Sherlock, my current obsession. Yes, all roads lead back to Sherlock for me, even Outlander, lol!

    Anyway, I did read the first two books,(Outlander, 17 years ago!), started the third, and stopped. I love them, but they are so rich in every way, I needed a breather! Then I went to Nova Scotia, and it took on so much more meaning for me because of the determinedly Scottish atmosphere there. Seeing the recreation of the Hector was awesome!

    At some point, I’m going to have to dive back into the series. Sometime when I know I’ll have weeks to devote to it!

    Reply
  13. JB Schroeder

     /  August 18, 2014

    I admit Janet, that they do take a lot of time! And it’s hard to remember some of the detail from book to book, but she does remind you of the important bits. Let me know if you dive back in!

    Reply

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