Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Outlander (STARZ Original Series)


Outlander the television series “Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”


            For as long as recorded history has existed, mankind has had a fascination with time travel. Whether the motivation stems from the desire to rewrite history or to simply experience a time far removed from one’s own, the notion of leaving the present to travel to a distant past has inspired fictional works such as A Wrinkle in Time and even A Christmas Carol. While escapism has always been the common thread, be it voluntary or not, the conflict of past meeting present is always an interesting mix of confusion and enlightenment. True to form, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series falls within these bounds. The involuntary time travel of Claire Randall brings two vastly different worlds crashing into each other, creating a love story that transcends both time and space. Now brought to life on the small screen, fans of Gabaldon’s novels can watch the pages unfold right before their very eyes on the STARZ network blockbuster series -- OUTLANDER.
            The year is 1945 and World War II has just ended. Claire Randall, a military nurse who has seen the absolute horrors of war, has returned to her home to be with her husband Frank. Frank also served in the war with British Intelligence. After being separated for the majority of 6 years, the couple decides to reconnect on a second honeymoon to Scotland. During the onset of their travels through the highlands, Frank shows off his considerable historical knowledge, much to the indifference of Claire. While she politely listens to Frank’s ramblings, she finds herself being distracted by the beautiful scenery of the Scottish countryside. Eventually they reach their destination, and Frank becomes absorbed with tracking down any genealogical information on his ancestor Captain “Black Jack” Randall who served during his military career in the Scottish Highlands squashing Jacobite rebellion. Franks preoccupation allows Claire quite a bit of free time to explore.
Claire’s exploration leads her back to a mysterious grouping of rocks that jut up from the ground in the style of Stonehenge. Just the night before, she and Frank had witnessed a troupe of woman performing an old, pagan ritual at that very location, only adding to the mysterious nature of the rock and earthen monument. As Claire enters the ringed structure, she begins to feel an eerie presence. She reaches down to pick a cluster of purple flowers and places her hands upon the most central rock formation in the grouping to steady herself. Almost immediately, she is whisked away, unbeknownst to her, back to 1743. Scared and alone, Claire makes her way back to where she parked her vehicle, only to find an empty field.
Bewildered, she runs through the forest where she encounters a man that looks oddly familiar…”Frank?” she questions. But it is not. It’s none other than Captain “Black Jack” Randall. Taken aback by why any respectable Englishwoman would be traipsing through the back woods of Scotland, Captain Randall proceeds to attempt to have his way with Claire. In swoops Jamie Fraser, a virile and ruggedly irresistible Scottish warrior, to her rescue. From this moment, Claire’s life takes a major turn, catapulting her directly center stage in the Jacobite uprising. She finds herself embroiled in mystery and intrigue, while all the while subjecting herself to danger due to her modern, free-thinking ways. As her time with the Highland clans ensues, Claire finds her loyalties to Frank and her own time in history tested.  Will she choose to follow her heart and stay in the past, or will she follow her head and try to get back to 1945?

            While I tend to be one of those book snobs who typically feel like the book is always better, I must digress that with this series, I am not so certain. The STARZ network has taken the best of Gabaldon’s books and created a vivid, visually enticing masterpiece that completely mimics what my mind’s eye created from the written word. While, in complete and total transparency, I have yet to completely read the entire 9 book series for myself (I am currently working on that faux pas), I have discussed my opinion with those who have, and they will attest that STARZ has done a fabulous job keeping with the integrity of Gabaldon’s novels.
        Outlander has its fair share of action, adventure, and intrigue to please even the most discerning palate. In other words, it’s not just for the girls. (*wink wink nudge nudge*) With other series that I watch, I find myself feigning in between seasons. With Outlander, I am waiting with baited breathe and a longing heart to find out what lays ahead for the delicious Jamie Fraser and his strong-willed Sassenach, Claire.
    I have been thoroughly enraptured by this series from episode one. The strong, distinctive characters are portrayed in such a way, that I found it hard not to become completely obsessed, and the storyline is engaging with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Not just a “romantic frolic through the Highlands”, I give the STARZ original series Outlander two thumbs up…If only I had more thumbs to give. J

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