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Outlander is multilayered and fascinating

TIME TRAVEL, KILTS, AND WHISKEY KEEPS AUDIENCE ATTENTION

Photo courtesy of Starz

Nearly three decades ago, in 1991, Diana Gabaldon wrote the first of eight— soon to be nine—books in the Outlander series. This sweeping, time-traveling epic tells the tale of Scotland’s historical and continued fight for freedom, alongside deception, redemption, love and whiskey—lots and lots of whiskey. The books garnered an immediate and fiercely loyal fan base.

During the last two decades, fans and entertainment industry professionals craved a film adaptation of the books. Ronald D. Moore, director of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek NextGen, and Deep Space 9, heard about the book series from his wife and costume designer, Terry Dresbach, who was already an avid Outlander fan.

Moore felt Outlander would be best suited as a TV series adaptation. The first season aired in August of 2014 on Starz.

Each season covers one of the eight Outlander books in its entirety—which are complex enough on their own.

The series’ first episode frames the overarching story with WWII combat nurse, Claire Randall, reuniting with her husband Frank Randall, for a second honeymoon in the Highlands of Scotland before he takes up a new professor post at Oxford. Claire was raised by her archeologist uncle and the two share an affinity for history. After milling around in the Highlands and seeing a druid-like ceremony, Claire winds up falling through time into 1743 in the middle of preparations for the Jacobite Rising of Scotland coming in 1745.

During the first 13 episodes, Claire is desperate to get back to 1945 and Frank, but she is forced to make political alignments she didn’t expect—including falling in love with and marrying a red-headed Scottish warrior who would change the timeline of her life. The whole series mirrors the book’s smart structure, hopping back and forth from 1945 to 1743 expertly adapted to the small screen.

Visually, Outlander is one of the most beautiful shows on television with period costumes designed and handmade with pure authenticity by Dresbach and her team. The sets are either on a soundstage in rural Scotland or outdoors in the temperamental Highlands. The hand-hewn sets believably double for weathered interiors of a clan castle, rotting and deteriorating prison cells, or airy bed lofts of a village pub. Outdoors, the scenes seem like paintings in the magical Scottish light.

The third season has started airing, and filming on the fourth has already begun, so this show isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as long as the demand and network budgets hold out. Outlander is like nothing else on TV today. Offering an incredible visual vacation along with an equally gripping story, it’s time to hurry and catch up on this glorious series.

 

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