Saturday, 4 April 2015

Five Reasons why you should be watching Outlander

Today is the day that a lot of people have been waiting for with vast amounts of patience, it is the day that Outlander returns for the second half of its first season.
I came to the series late so I haven't had to wait for quite such a ridiculous time as those who have been there since the beginning, but I am no less impatient for the series to begin again and show us more of Claire and Jamie's story.
Based on the first book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Starz have struck gold with this incredible book to screen adaptation, one of the best shows on TV at the moment, and here are five reasons why you should be catching up and watching this show if you haven't discovered it yet.

1 - Our heroine and narrator Claire. She is a strong independent woman, who isn't going to let a little thing like being trapped in a male dominated society get her down. She's feisty, determined and a compelling character to watch. Sucked through time to 1743 Scotland, she leaves her husband and the life she was beginning to get to grips with following the second world war and finds herself thrust into the Highlands on the brink of war with the English for their independence. A nurse with a modern background she quickly finds a niche for herself at Castle Leoch where she becomes the resident healer (with unsurprisingly good results.) She's a wonderful look into the world, an outsider like us she is alienated and desperate to return to her own time and Catriona Balfe plays her to perfection. She pitches it perfectly so that Claire is both vulnerable and strong, trapped in this world where she has no control but wresting control and her individuality where she can. I adore Claire as a heroine, both in the show and in the books, but Catriona's performance is simply wonderful.

2 - And with our heroine, there must of course be our hero, Jamie. A young Scotsman who has a knack for getting himself into the kind of trouble where it's useful to know a particularly good healer, Sam Heughan is the perfect Jamie. He is one of my favourite fictional hero's, just the right blend of gentle kindness and tough rugged Scotsman. He can be brutal at times, and fiercely protective, but one of the things I love most is his desire and ability to learn and develop and listen to Claire's opinions and demands as well as her secrets. They become so much more than physical attraction and develop into one of the most layered and wonderful partnerships I've had the pleasure of watching and reading. Heughan is a truly incredible actor and brings Jamie vividly and wonderfully to life. Their partnership and chemistry on screen is fantastic, and really brings the romance to new levels.

3 - Ronald D Moore, who is a genius I might add. Well known for his stints on Star Trek, the reboot of Battlestar Glacatica and Caprica he brings a brilliance to any show he turns his hand to. He has captured the essence of Gabaldon's story and transported it incredibly faithfully to the screen and the result is fantastic. We feel for Claire, every step of the way on this incredibly twisted path. From the moments where she feels isolated and displaced as everyone speaks Gaelic around her (wonderfully offset with no subtitles on screen so the audience feels as isolated and confused as Claire,) to when she is truly happy and content in the time she has found herself stuck in. The attention to detail, the costumes, the epic scope of the Highlands that is conveyed throughout, the beautiful sweeping feel of the story and the tiny moments where the focus is narrowed right into human emotions. It is an incredible adaptation, I wish more could be so faithful to the essence of the books they adapt!

4 - Bear McCreary's incredible score, need I say more? I first discovered McCreary's music when watching Battlestar Galactica, and have music stalked him ever since. He is an incredibly daring composer whose music is like nothing else out there. He has created an iconic soundtrack with some truly beautiful themes making full use of traditional Scottish instruments and I could listen to it all day. So far only the soundtrack for the first half of the season has been released, but I cannot wait to hear what he has in store for us for the second half.

5 - Diana Gabaldon's epic story. At nearly a thousand pages long this first tome in the series is quite an undertaking, but it is more than worth it. Gabaldon has created a story that is a little bit of so many things: a wonderful historical insight into the Scottish Highlands in a particularly unstable time, a compelling and brilliant story of time travel, fantastic characters that make the story real, and a wonderful romance. This is so much more than swooning damsels and men in kilts, this is a beautifully nuanced story that tackles so many issues and provides a decidedly different romance to the one you might be expecting. It's brutal and violent, quiet and raw, and at the heart of it is a love that transcends time. What more could you want?

So there you have it, five reasons why you should be watching (or catching up with) Outlander. It's got a little something for everyone, so don't just dismiss it as a romance without giving the pilot a shot. Just be wary of some of the more adult content both violent and sexual if you have any younger people trying to watch too.

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