Speaking as a fan of the entire series, it’s near, if not actually, perfect in my opinion – I would only caution that the book at the very beginning is a bit slow for newcomers (a complaint I’ve heard a few times after recommending it myself so I’ve learned to caution for the slower intro. Fans who re-read it, love it in its entirety though and see why it’s important to the story). Around chapter 3 is when it begins to ramp up the excitement (so hang in there if you’re listening to it or reading it and wondering what the hype is all about).
On Thursday May 8th, Starz released a new poster to advertise and be the main image that fans, new and old, can really get behind. It is fabulous and everything I could have wanted in a promo poster. Of course, the other huge news is that the air date has been simultaneously released with it- posted right there. August 9th, 2014 on a Saturday at 9pm. Which is wonderful since it has absolutely NO scheduling conflicts for me– though even if it had, I would have worked around the conflict anyway.
(Tagline: What if your future was the past?)
On Friday May 2nd, Starz released a poster regarding their Summer 2014 television adaptation of the Bestselling novel by Diana Gabaldon called “Outlander”. The poster acted as a teaser to ask social media users, primarily on Facebook and Twitter, to hashtag #WhereisClaire and share the poster art (brilliant looking by the way) with the idea that at a 100% participation share rate (as monitored by a % progress bar) that they would release a new trailer for the show.
The new trailer can be seen here, on the Starz website (there are a few exclusive sites it’s available on as well. It may be released to YouTube at a later date).
There has been a previous trailer that was pretty short and seemed to really play up the romance factor (which may have alienated some men and to sway them into thinking that this is little more than romance fodder for women exclusively — which it totally is NOT the case). It did little for people who didn’t know anything about the book series, but it ignited a flame in the Gabaldon fans who were brimming over with excitement with the announcement that these glorious books were being adapted for TV. Like the “Game of Thrones” phenomenon and fandom, many Outlander fans- myself included- have high hopes that this Starz series will give us the experience of the books dazzling us visually so that we can see our literary loves come to life in front of us too.
As with any book to movie or television franchise adaptation, there was a lot of outcry when a virtual “unknown” actor was cast as James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. Sam Heughan has had roles acting roles in previous movies and TV shows–he’s not wet behind the ears, he knows what he’s doing, but not until now, has he played anything that made him a well known name to many fans. This role could make (become a more household name) or break him (by breaking, meaning that his name would be synonymous with “you know, that guy who failed at being Jamie Fraser.” Ouch). If he’s giving it his all and all the magic from the books is successfully translated to the screen- this series could really become a real hit for Moore, Starz, and all of the actors involved. It has that much potential. If it flops, well…it could be a sad run for many fans (I’ve seen Helix. Interesting concept but with many flaws. BSG however, was excellent. Let’s hope for at least THAT much glamour).
A BELOVED character in the book (for many reasons), many fans envisioned a prominent and successful actor to portray the role. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was one notable preference for some fans- who wanted someone very pretty, tall, long haired, and a really tough, brawny man to take on the role.
Sam Heughan (who, it should be noted is very handsome – and has most definitely been looking the capable Scotsman more and more as the production has rolled on) was announced to the casting in July of 2013 before any other “Outlander” actor was chosen. It worried some fans into thinking maybe they rushed the casting call, because being Jamie couldn’t just be…that easy!
Diana Gabaldon had seen his screen test and was whole-heartedly behind this call from the beginning stating that when Sam walked in and delivered his lines that he WAS Jamie Fraser. Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore (of BSG TV series fame) said, “from the very beginning, I knew the part of Jamie Fraser would be difficult to cast. I had no one in mind for the part. I knew that someone would just come into the audition and be Jamie Fraser. And that’s what Sam did.”
(This is what Sam really looks like playing Jamie -handsome!- with his hair dyed a rich deep red. Fans were not convinced that Sam’s hair was red enough or long enough at the beginning. It should be noted that in the books, Jamie’s hair is NOT long to begin with. It’s growing back out due to it being shaved because of an injury prior to the book’s beginning. ).
There were still some fan complaints with the casting – no one had seen anything (other than those involved with the production) that could definitively say that Sam “WAS” Jamie. Diana Gabaldon took to Twitter and Facebook highlighting Sam’s many fine qualities. When the discussion of ‘height’ came up, along the lines of, “he doesn’t seem tall enough to be Jamie” (there are some very finicky fans out there that envision each actor their own way in their heads. It makes you wonder how hard casting the ‘right person’ has to be) Diana posted various pictures including this one- where she physically met both Sam and Cait personally for the first time in Jan 2014. She proclaimed that Sam is 6′ 3″ and is definitely a contender for Jamie’s height in the books.
The next big character to be cast would be Tobias Menzies who will play dual roles as Frank and Jonathan Wolverton Randall, in August 2013.
This man was more recognizable because he played a role in “Game of Thrones” as Edmure Tully, the groom at the Red Wedding event (and the man who was portrayed as incompetent shooting a bow at a funeral boat). Menzies will have a bit of proving to do to the fans of Outlander to make sure that this man can carry the weight and scope of who and what he will do in the new series. Because he was a rash and a bit of a weak man in GoT, he’s going to have to hit it out of the park to make sure fans can come over to his side.
Luckily Starz is not spoiling us with his participation and I’m hoping that means he walks on screen and IS Frank/Jonathan Randall as well. We’ve all focused on the Jamie and Claire characters (with good reason) but not as much expectation has been put on Menzies yet. Oh, but it will and we’re all just waiting to see the explosion when it does.
The next difficult step was to find the perfect “Claire”.
She had to be beautiful in a natural way and possess the confidence, drive, and the scope of what it would mean to be a woman in the medical profession in the 1940’s, when it wasn’t common to be a female doctor. After a lengthy search, they chose another actor that to most, was relatively “unknown” – with small roles (Super 8). An Irish actress and model, Caitriona Balfe was chosen in September 2013. (Some fans claim that her hair is NOT as wild and untamed as it’s explained in the books and that her eyes are not the right color. Again, everyone has a different vision of their beloved characters in their heads, but many have accepted and warmed up to these actors in the roles. The real proof will be how the pilot does this summer).
With these three main important characters cast, the rest could then be filled in. They all have very defined roles and are all in essence “important” to the story, but if these three people are unable to hold up the weight of fan expectations it’s clear to see how the whole table could topple. They just have to get it right, even if events shift and change to make it TV acceptable (as GoT has done along the way, changing some things but leaving that same feeling and tone of the books overall). No pressure, right?
With all the love that’s going into the show, many will have their fingers crossed that the show can pull it off and have us drooling for more every week.
It’s difficult to speculate how the show will really do until it arrives this Summer, but it is EASY to say how much hope all of the fans have that it’ll live up to our dreams for it. We, I, want to see this succeed – not only because it will highlight some of our favorite characters from a beloved series, but also it will pave the way for other excellent books to become future series in the right hands going forward. No one wants to see their heroes come to life on screen in a horrible production. It’s bound to happen (there certainly are many examples of adaptations that just haven’t and don’t work) but if the right people get behind the right projects then we might see a better example of our favorite adaptations in a ‘TV series’ format, rather than some 2 hour one-off production where they get a lot of the details wrong or are rushed due to timing. A series has more of a chance to tell the right kinds of stories and build characters up. Sam, Caite, and Diana Gabaldon all have a pretty active Twitter relationship that has allowed the fans to get closer and get to know them, helping to support their roles as Jamie and Claire. That began a lot of fan backing, as did the big Starz Fan Event in Jan 2014. The event gave the fans an inkling of the screen presence and the chemistry between Sam and Cait (Jamie and Claire) allowing fans to “see” their compatibility as plain as day. It was a huge step in proving that Starz did cast great characters for these roles and that they actually care about the content. We will all just have to see how they handle themselves fully in the show.
(Warning: The linked videos below may contain spoilers for the show!)
Starz has even taken it a step further. To many in the US, Gaelic is a pretty uncommon and unknown Scots language. Starz has been building online Gaelic lessons delivered by the cast and Gaelic coach on the team to not only help fans get used to what they will be hearing on the show but to help familiarize readers with how the words will be pronounced on the show, as opposed to whatever pronunciation they may have had in their heads (which may help keep ire down about the “I thought it was said a different way!”). Any of you that have listened to the Unabridged narration of the Outlander series as recorded by Davina Porter, likely knows how the words sound out loud (if you haven’t tried the books audibly, you’re really missing out) but I really enjoy seeing these videos pop up. Starz is taking great care to get this show “right” before it gets aired. Whether the end result will work out for everyone or not, has yet to be seen– but they are making a bigger attempt to get things right than to just “wing it” than I’ve seen from many shows lately, i.e. showing that they care and want to include fans past and present into what they’re producing.
They have even employed an herbalist to be a consultant on the show, so that herbs are used in the correct manner in relation to their medicinal use.
All this gives me hope and makes me really excited for the release of the show. I know that when it comes out I will be fan-girling all over the place. Squeeing like a little girl because they’re hitting all the right notes so far and I’m really digging Sam and Cait’s vibe (there hasn’t been much trailer action showing Tobias/Frank and Claire- but there have been some beautiful still shots of the pair). They make me want to believe that they can pull off the magic of Diana Gabaldon’s excellent books. The trailer released today was fantastic and I loved that they showed more details and opened it up to show that it’s not just about romance. It’s so much more than that and I just can’t wait to see all of it unfold.
I’m guessing Starz will have a nice uptick of U.S. subscriptions pretty soon! I’ll be right there with you, checking it out!
(Handsome men in kilts – Moore and Heughan- , show how stylish it can be to wear them and 2 beautiful women – author Gabaldon and actress Balfe – talk to the fans of the Outlander novels and hope filled fans)