[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]
Outlander is a historical epic set in the Scottish highlands in 1743 and post-war Scotland of 1945. It follows Claire, a combat nurse, who is visiting Scotland on a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank in an attempt to recapture a romance torn apart by war. However, after witnessing a Druid ritual, Claire touches a stone which transports her back through time to eighteenth century Scotland. She finds herself with a group of rebellious Highlanders, including the very attractive Jamie Fraser, and sets off on a adventure to get back to her own time.
1) Refusal to fit into a genre
The thing that I love about Outlander is how the series refuses to fit into established genres; it’s unique in the sense that it features time-travel and history, science, and perhaps magic.
2) Commitment to the characters
Outlander is comparable to HBO’s Game of Thrones in the sweeping and beautiful way that it’s filmed, as well as its approach to violence and sex, and ITV’s Downton Abbey for it’s depiction of Scotland’s history, but it is the commitment to the characters that really sets it apart.
Caitriona Balfe stars as our central character Claire, as it is her commitment to this role that draws the viewer in. Claire is a wonderful female character, she is feisty and clever and determined to get back to 1945. Her bewilderment and stark realisation of her situation is expertly captured by Balfe. Sam Heughan plays the male lead, Jamie Fraser, and his performance is equally compelling, especially in the absolutely excruciating final episodes of the season. However, for me, the star of the show is Tobias Menzies, who plays two characters; Frank Randell and his ancestor, Black Jack Randell. As Frank, Tobias is the perfect leading man – he is kind and courteous and desperately searching for his lost wife. When he is Black Jack, he is transformed into a vicious English soldier. The difference between these two characters is startling, so much so that at first I couldn’t believe the same actor played both characters.
3) Impossible to predict
Because Outlander refuses to sit within established genres, the twists and turns of Outlander’s first season are hard to predict, and this makes for anticipatory viewing. Whilst in the first few episodes the show progresses at a slow rate, once the characters and stakes are established the action accelerates. The development of the relationship between Jamie and Claire is beautifully pitched, and the flashbacks into Claire’s old life give the show a wonderful sense of context; this is a woman torn between the past and her future.
Outlander has seriously awakened my love for Scotland. The gorgeous scenery and castles are more than just a backdrop – Scottish culture is an integral part of the story! Scotland is to Outlander what New Zealand is to Lord of the Rings. If you watch Outlander and don’t want to visit Scotland immediately, you’re a stronger person than me! I can’t remember ever watching a TV series set in Scotland, so it is great to see our northern neighbour getting a bit of TV love.
5) Jamie Fraser
A little bit of eye candy never hurt anybody, and Jamie Fraser is the epitome of eye candy on Outlander. If you like your hunks scottish, ginger and with a six pack to boot Jamie is your man. This tartan clad Highlander has some seriously sensuous scenes during the first season, and viewers will not be disappointed in his shirtless antics. If you need a new fictional boyfriend, Jamie Fraser may be the man for you.
You can watch Outlander on Amazon Prime and the TV show comes to DVD in September 2015. If you are missing Game of Thrones, Outlander is a must watch. But really, it is a must watch for anyone that likes compelling, well written and beautifully acted drama set in gorgeous Scotland.