Time travel is sexy: the Doctor, the DeLorean, perhaps a car showing up at midnight to take you to a different decade. Pop culture has a fascination with being able to jump around to foreign environments, but one of the most interesting takes on time travel is on the Starz series Outlander.
The television show is based on a series of books written by Diana Gabaldon, and the executive producer is Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Helix). The series opens in 1945 Scotland with our protagonist, Claire Randall (played by Irish actress Caitriona Balfe). Following the end of World War II, Claire and her husband take a sort of second honeymoon and vacation in the Scottish highlands. After visiting the ancient stones at Craigh na Dun on the Gaelic holiday Samhain, Claire is transported back in time to 1743. The series chronicles her transition from twentieth-century nurse to a woman completely out of her element.
You are probably wondering where the sexy comes into play. Let me tell you, this show is steamy. A very large part of Claire’s story is the push and pull she gets between two men: her husband, Frank (played by Tobias Menzies of Game of Thrones fame) and smoldering highlander, Jamie (Sam Heughan). In 1945, she admits that her relationship with Frank is based a lot on sex, and we get to see a lot of intimate moments between the two. In 1743, she immediately encounters Jamie after one of his fellow highlanders saves her from being assaulted by a British soldier, Black Jack Randall (who is actually an ancestor to Claire’s husband, and is also played by Menzies). Jamie is completely different from Frank in that he is a bit of an outcast with a mysterious past, and much younger than Claire–not to mention of a different time. Toward the middle of season one, Claire marries Jamie out of necessity, and their wedding is the steamiest, sexiest, most graphic episode of television that I have ever seen. Needless to say, if you are looking for a bit of fantasy, this show is for you.
Indeed, it is that fantasy that makes Outlander so unique and popular. The book character Jamie Fraser has long been associated with chivalry and the ideal man. Who wouldn’t love a man in a kilt with a chiseled jaw and a Scottish brogue? Fortunately, Sam Heughan has enough of the charm to make any woman swoon. So, of course, Claire immediately falls for Jamie, but she does spend a lot of time feeling guilty about being in love, and married, to two different men at the same “time.”
Outlander is not completely a love story, however. There is a lot of drama, action, suspense, and mystery involved in the series. A major plot in the story is Claire’s showing up in the middle of the woods with no knowledge of how she got there. She has to create an identity, a back story, and try to adjust to life in a completely different century. Of course, an English woman showing up in the middle of MacKenzie clan territory at the height of the civil war between England and Jacobite Scotland puts everyone on edge, and she is swiftly accused of being an English spy. A lot of focus is put on her relationship with the MacKenzie laird and his brother, Dougal, who do not trust her one bit. How she maneuvers her way politically is very important.
The way that Starz presented the series has been a little out of the ordinary so far. Season one started in August 2014 with eight episodes, then went into hiatus, with the second half of season one starting April 4, 2015 (TONIGHT!!!) for a total of 16 episodes. It has already been renewed for a second season, which is wonderful since the book series is in eight installments (so far).
What I like about the series so much is that it is great all-around. The writing is incredible, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Gabaldon is actively involved in the show running. Because of that, we get to really see the character relationships in the way that they are intended. Further, the costuming is beautiful. Moore’s wife is the main costume designer of the show, and she explains on a podcast how important her decisions are in making historically correct costumes. The cinematography is breathtaking because it is filmed on location in Scotland, so you actually get to see the places that Claire sees. And of course, the music is gorgeous due to Bear McCreary of The Walking Dead fame (among others).
But what really stands out in this adaptation is the acting. The amazing chemistry between Balfe and Heughan is potent, and so is the chemistry between Balfe and Menzies. There are times in the series that you do not know who to root for because you create a champion in all of them.
I very highly recommend Outlander to anyone who likes some fantasy, but this show definitely does not fit nicely into a specific genre. Indeed, if you are a fan of science fiction, fantasy, romance, drama, history, action, politics–Outlander has it all for you.
Erin has reviewed many shows over the years including Orphan Black, iZombie, Penny Dreadful, and Killing Eve. She has a keen eye for on-screen chemistry, and loves to tackle the subject of casting. She is also our horror aficionado. She live tweets shows, and loves to share her feelings. Erin has a BA in History, and likes to analyze the lore behind historical fiction. She attends San Diego Comic Con every year and has also attended C2E2 and WonderCon.
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