Outlander and the Fall 2014 TV round-up

outlander

I have been moving away from network TV and trying out some cable dramas and TV on DVD or Netflix. If you look back in this blogs archives, I have tried to write about the ones that I really enjoyed.

The latest of the cable dramas that I have enjoyed is Outlander. The 1st 8 episodes have aired and it returns for another 8 in April 2015. It peaked my curiosity when I learned it was showrunner Ronald D. Moore’s (of Battlestar Galactica reboot fame) latest project.

I was aware of the novel series this was based on, as many of my friends were avid readers and fans. So in anticipation, this summer, I read the first novel. Yes, over 800 pages where read by me. I can see why these books are popular. They are romance novels with a generous amount of adventure, history and fantasy (by way of time-travel). They also have a strong intelligent passionate female lead who manages to find herself knee deep in conflict.

As for the TV show. The basic premise begins in 1945; Englishwoman Claire Beauchamp Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is on her 2nd honeymoon after a long separation from her husband (Tobias Menzies) after WW2 has ended. They are in Scotland when she visits ancient stone circle Craigh na Dun. The magic of the stones transports her 200 years back in time. And that is where the adventure and romance begin. She is a trained army nurse and her skills are invaluable to a group of Highlanders who seem to fall into endless skirmishes with the English soldiers, led by her husband’s ancestor (Menzies again in a dual role). No one knows quite what to make of her. Is she a British spy or a spy for the Jacobite Scottish rebellion? All she really wants to do is find a way back to her own time. She has to use her wits to survive and life gets complicated when she catches the eye of a younger man. Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) is a Highlander in hiding. He is an escaped prisoner of the British – of course he was falsely accused and brutally tortured. Does she use him as a means to an end…..? So far the show is pretty true to the source material, almost to a fault.

I really enjoyed the acting, especially the chemistry between Claire and Jamie. The cinematography is gorgeous. The characterization is spotty, but it is early yet. The pacing is a little slower than I would prefer. My biggest beef is the heavy handed narration that insults the intelligence of the viewer. And believe me, I am not the only one sharing this opinion Thankfully, it lessens as the show finds its footing. Overall, I was happy to watch this show and I am looking forward to its return in the spring.

That said, I probably won’t continue to read the novels. To borrow from Emperor Joseph II from the movie “Amadeus”, TO MANY WORDS. The books are well written but they weren’t written for my taste. There are far to many descriptive passages that bore me. First I started skimming and then I said “why bother?” I can just read the plot summaries as published in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlandish Companion and be just as satisfied. (Yes I did do that).

But if you are looking for a historical romp with a refreshingly strong female lead, you may want to give Outlander, the TV series a try.

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This is the first Fall TV season that I have not been excited about. I realized that there were no new shows that I was interested in and many of the returning shows were a bit long in the tooth.

The only returning shows set to record on my PVR this fall are Castle, The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. The first one remains light silly fun which is great to watch on the treadmill; the last one remains a show that I can cuddle up with my daughters and watch. The best days of all those shows are behind them though.

As for The Walking Dead, UGH. Last season was so boring. I wish I had just skipped to the last episode. I still watch this only because my husband wants to.

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