Saturday, April 04, 2015

Couch Potato Chronicles: Laddie, Come Home - "Outlander" Returns

The STARZ adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's historical fiction novels returns, and not a moment too soon.  I need to forget the lunacy in the news and the home stretch-to-final exams rush at school.  Fun fact: Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica is one of the showrunners for this.  (At first the two shows seem wildly different, but they both deal intensely with politics and characterization.)

Short version of Outlander: Claire Randall, an English World War II nurse, is on a second honeymoon to Scotland with historian husband Frank when she suddenly finds herself transported to the 1740s in the same location.  Those are the days of Highlander clans, English redcoats, and the Jacobite risings for Bonnie Prince Charlie that would culminate in the catastrophic Battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle in the British Isles.  Claire finds herself a stranger in a strange land ... and a dangerous one, in which she is a Sassenach, a foreigner, a stranger, and - yep - outlander.
She soon gets caught up in local political turmoil, for the redcoats suspect her of being a spy (for the French, perhaps?) and the Scots suspect her of being an English one.  What would you make of a stranger who suddenly appears in your lands, who has odd mannerisms and no connections? As Claire quickly finds out, she's caught between two radically different worlds.

OK, I must admit, it doesn't hurt in the slightest that the scenery is beautiful, the re-creation of that historical period is quite evocative, Caitriona Balfe as Claire offers us a heroine with brains and spunk (thank goodness for that as an anti-Anastasia Steele!), and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser provides both a complex personality and ample testimony to just how much of a chick magnet an outlaw Scotsman in a kilt can be. 

There's a good deal of violence and some nudity, but both are pretty much nothing compared to HBO's (also wildly popular) fantasy-political epic Game of Thrones.  Still, Outlander is a cable show and not for little ones.

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