What if your future … was the past?
That’s the tagline of the new original series on the Starz Network – Outlander.
Adapted from the international best-selling books authored by Diana Gabaldon, the series spans romance, history, science-fiction and adventure. The epic is set in the Scottish Highlands, and begins just after the end of World War II. So that makes it 1945.
A married couple, the Randalls, separated by almost five years of the war, is finally united. They decide to visit the highlands for a second honeymoon vacation, which is the best way for them to reconnect after the war.
So the highlands it is – with its special light, clean air, and the craggy mountains, streams,and the grasses, and of course the ruined castles – all make for a superb backdrop to the story. Besides what you can see and feel and touch, there’s the Scottish folklore filled with tales of ghosts. Off they go and they pass a high peak which was known as a place where back in the day, the British soldiers sat in hiding ready to rush down from their protected armaments to ambush and do battle with the Scottish rebels.
Of course there was a Druid-like ruin with a massive stone that our heroine Claire was attracted to. After visiting it with her husband, she went back the next day and touched the stone – and in a blink of the eye, she had time-traveled back to the same place , only 200 years earlier.
Of course, the very red coats that she and her husband had discussed were out on patrol and they fired shots at her. She ran for cover and soon enough she stumbled upon a group of the Scotsmen. She still had no idea of where she was exactly and what was going on. Her mind had not made the same time-travel leap that her body had made. These very Scotsmen, the Mackenzie clan, could not release her as they gathered from her way of speaking that she was quite likely a British woman and she would have no allegiance to the Scots. So they took her along with them.
So begins this series. It looks like it has all the style and production values in which cost was not the first thing considered.
The role of woman Claire Randall nee Beecham, is played by a Caitriona Balfe. The Scottish lad is played by Sam Heughan, and Claire’s husband Frank Randall is played by Tobias Menzies. Menzies also plays the villainous Black Jack Randall, who is likely the very man who will makes the Scotsmen’s lives miserable.
Amongst the Scots we have Colum Mackenzie, the Laird of the clan, Douglas Mackenzie who is a fierce warrior and strategist, and Murtagh Fitzgibbons. They’re a bearded scruffy lot, and the role of Douglas Mackenzie is ably manned by Graham McTavish (below). Had this series been made 15 years earlier, Sean Connery could have been cast in this role.
I suppose I can mention the films Rob Roy with Liam Neeson, and Braveheart with Mel Gibson as each of these films share in the lineage of Outlander. The main difference is that Rob Roy was set in 1712, and Braveheart in the latter part of the 13th century. But on a flavor comparison they do match up.
I think the series shall do well if you like period dramas. In this case, with the added fillip of time travel, we have a romance novel brought to life, so if that appeals to you, this will fill the bill quite well.
For American audiences, there’s the thought of the on-location production in the Scottish Highlands, as well as the relatively unknown (to Americans) cast, which will add a fine bit of realism, that you should find entertaining.
While the Starz Network is a premium channel on your cable system, Starz has made this opening episode available as a FREE on demand selection, or you may watch it on starz.com for free. The series will begin on August 9th. So this is an opportunity to preview the series at no additional cost to you.
According to the show’s producer Ronald Moore, the show is from the books and there are 20,000,000 of them in print. Which means there’s likely a ready made audience. Have a look at this featurette about the show. Enjoy.