I’m pleased and humbled to announce that Deborah, Roberta, and the effervescent Basket of Kisses powers that be have allowed me to be this site’s Outlander correspondent!
Outlander is one of the best-received, critically-acclaimed, and highest-rated drama series debuts in the modern era of television. It’s also one of the most blogged and tweeted shows on the air, especially when you consider that it’s one of the toughest to categorize. Action-adventure? Yep. Romance? You betcha. Science fiction? Sure thing. Period drama? Check—actually, double-check, since it’s set concurrently in the 18th and 20th centuries.
I didn’t happen across the books until five years ago, myself. Fan Clubs have been mulling over all manner of Outlander trivia for decades, and the most fervent gather by the hundreds for conventions worldwide. Scores of fans were masterfully crafting nuanced observations, critiques, and supplementary material related to the books, long before I was aware of the novels’ existence. Or before there were blogs. Or before widespread access to the Internet.
You’d think the volume of interest would have been a point in favor of bringing the epic to the screen a long time ago. The eponymous debut novel is old enough to buy beer, after all. Author Diana Gabaldon (“Herself” as her rabid and loyal fan base knows her) made a rather tidy sum of money over the years, leasing the rights to various producers and directors intent upon bringing her debut novel to the big screen. No one could figure out how to remain true to the story’s depth of detail while shoehorning it into a two or three hour package. It took the intrepid team of Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis, prompted by costumer extraordinaire Terry Dresbach (also wife of Moore) to envision the iteration as a series.
I adore Diana. When I launched into fiction writing, I read what she’s shared about the writing and publishing process and emulated what I could along the way. She was also late to the party, in a sense, although I don’t think she’d characterize it that way. Dr. Gabaldon lives quite purposefully, having three advanced degrees in science, a university professorship on her resume, and several scientific articles, textbooks, and comic-book scripts (yes, that’s right) to her credit. It was only after having accomplished all of that when she launched her fiction-writing career, “for practice, just to learn how.”
I’m hardly alone in my adoration. The advent of the television series last year brought the number of fans from the millions to tens of millions, and the number of bloggers into the hundreds. So, what do I bring to the party, especially considering I’m showing up late?
I’m a storyteller who’s managed to put her toe in just about every literary pool available, without doing much swimming, at least long-term, in any. With a degree to teach theatre and English, I’m certified to instruct secondary school students in these subjects, along with everything from speech and debate to journalism and literature. After a very brief and rather embarrassing pursuit of my own stage limelight, I transitioned to professional services marketing. For fifteen years, I have by-lined and ghost-written articles about everything from insurance, information technology, architecture, engineering, and construction. I have designed websites, written all manner of advertising copy, pitched press releases, and herded the cats that comprise social media.
I’ve also been seduced by several television series, especially as motherhood and career have constrained available time and resources formerly dedicated to annual theater memberships and cinema outings. I am particularly prone to binge-watching those series with noted wordsmiths at the helm. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, and Sports Night have been among my darlings over the last several years. Outlander is the first television drama, based upon books I’ve read, that has captivated me in several… well, ever.
My take on Outlander will be to explore the successes, challenges, benefits, and drawbacks of its translation from page to screen, particularly the (relatively) small non-silver one. Naturally, no rendition can hit every target, satisfy every yearning, or achieve every goal. In many circumstances during the first half of the season, our expectations have been exceeded, even when unexpected diversions from the source material were involved. I’ll explore what it’s fair to want, what seems feasible, and my humble opinions as to what works and what falls short.
As viewers, we’re not owed a thing, I’m sorry to say. If they weren’t succeeding, we wouldn’t be watching, but they are and we had been and will again. As we gear up for the second half of the season, due to air on April 4th, visit this forum to hash out what we’ve seen and what we want to see. If you haven’t watched an episode yet, no worries. Not only do you have plenty of time to catch up, but I will be posting synopses and commentary, episode by episode, over the weeks approaching the show’s awaited return.