Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series is so popular that a friend of mine recently said, and I quote, “she has ruined all other writers for me. I’ll never be in love with a fictional character as much as I’m in love with Jamie.”
That’s A LOT of pressure on the Starz network. And Sam Heughan. So my question (and I’m sure the network’s question) is, did the pilot measure up? Fans, are you pleased as pumpernickel and giddy for more, or are you already on your third draft of the angry letter you’re going to send to Starz?
My opinion (which counts for sooooooo much) is that it was pretty good. Not mind-blowing or goose pimple enducing, but the leads are talented and have good chemistry, and the cinematography was stunning. So yeah, okay, I’ll hop aboard this time machine of romantic adventure.
The series is likely only going to get better. It’s a tricky business, adapting a work of literature for the screen. Exposition can’t simply be stated, it has to be shown. Or in this case, spoken via excessive voice-overs. Was I alone in my eye-rolls? That may just be a case of pilotitis, though. After all, there was quite a bit of information this episode had to shove down our throats before we could get to the real meat of the story.
Speaking of, let’s get to it!
It’s was pretty clear from the first ten minutes of flashbacks that Claire will not be a damsel. This chick is one BAMF who gets splashed with blood without even blinking, and swigs champagne from the bottle. Get it, girl.
Then we met Frank, Claire’s lovable nerd husband whom we’ll likely never see again.
Claire coaxed him into some sexy times, and this lady was ABOUT IT.
Then we got a neat 20 minute history lesson that’s probably not important in any way.
We got a glimpse into how boring Claire’s life would be if she wasn’t sucked into the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff, which was RIVETING (it was not riveting, you guys). But at least we got a fun palm-reader who basically laid out the premise of the show.
Claire seemed very cool about the whole “two husbands” thing. This girl is SO ready for a time travel adventure! And that was before this very telling conversation:
Then Claire and her adorable, cheating snore-machine of a husband went on a field trip to watch a bunch of the local “witches” get drunk and forget the steps to the electric shuffle.
You’d think this would be the part where she falls through time into a sweaty, Scottish thrill ride, but NOPE, we got yet another scene showcasing the very hum-drumness of her current life with Frank, where they told us that he had a meeting and she was going back to the rocks. THANK GOD we had that scene, you guys, because I would have been confused if action just happened without anyone talking about it.
Forty minutes into the episode, Claire took a dive through time, which, just for reference, is the actual length of a regular scheduled television program.
I must give props where they are due; the way they did the actual fall through time was creative and interesting, comparing it to a car accident she woke up in the middle of. There really was no other way to do this that wouldn’t seem campy.
Claire awoke with what I’m assuming was a massive hangover, and a whole lotta voice-over. I wonder if her inner monologue annoys her, too. Then she ran into this dashing fellow:
You guys, real talk, I’m a little in love with Tobias Menzies. To go from a soft spoken lovable nerd to an aggressive jerk-wad is an impressive jump, and he nailed both of them. But before Claire could be raped by her husband’s doppelganger (talk about a weird day), she was rescued by a Scotsman and knocked unconscious. Yay!
The voice-overs (*eye roll*) took us to a cabin, where a bunch of dudes were having a clubhouse meeting, including this beefcake:
Now, I’m not saying this show is targeted towards women only, because there are lots of elements that appeal to a lot of different demographics… that being said, LADIES, AMMIRIGHT?? Sam Heughan for the win?
Claire fixed up his arm, which looked mighty uncomfortable, and then they were on their merry way.
Claire told her new chums about the ambush that was likely to be waiting, and then my favourite part of the episode happened:
AAAHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH *sigh* Jamie unceremoniously THREW HER OFF THE HORSE… hahaha… that was awesome.
Our heroine took the opportunity to run back to the stones, but was foiled by a ginger dream boat.
Girl deserves to have a great time, you know?
Then Jamie passed out because he was shot and didn’t say anything. At this juncture I would like to point out that this story seems to be teaching dudes that to be sexy and tough you can’t show any signs of pain or weakness. Not a fact, guys. You know what’s super sexy? Not dying. Also not having gangrene or blood poisoning. I actually list these traits for an ideal mate on my online dating profile.
This moment DID, however, give us a nice treat to the age old trope of time travelers knowing things that people in the past don’t. The big tough Scotsman asking, “germs?” was precious.
Claire patched him up, then they skedaddled and made it to the castle, where we were treated to more voice-overs. Yay!
Well guys, let’s be real, the first half of this episode was essentially the pre-show. We needed to get through the boring crap to get to the good stuff. The good news is that now the show is going to be (hopefully) ALL good stuff.
One thing I do hope for the future is that the writers put a little more faith in their audience. When Claire was staring into the gaping foggy void that should have had city lights, we knew what she was thinking. We didn’t need the voice-over telling us the city should have been there.
We know, show… we know.
We also remembered the history lesson that happened not twenty minutes ago, as Claire and her Scotsmen were heading towards the big ol’ rock. We didn’t need a Frank flashback.
Regardless, all in all, it was a mostly entertaining hour of pretty images and even prettier people.
What did you guys think?
- Would you tell someone if you were shot?
- Is Tobias Menzies your new talent crush, and will you be making him your desktop background?
- How many of you are now touching every old stone you see, hoping for a romantic time travel adventure?
- Are there any new fans of this show (such as myself) who DIDN’T read the books? What are your thoughts?
[Originally posted Aug 2014 on tv.com]