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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