How the Starz series became a Hit Smash on TV

This is an excerpt from ‘s TV Guide Magazine Outlander Forever Special Collector’s Issue, available for international pre-order online at OutlanderForever.com and is available nationwide on newsstands.

Before Outlander even started catching our TV screens on August 9, 2014, the sexy story had superfans. They are deeply devoted readers of author Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling time-travel romance series. The hit series had grown to seven episodes when Starz announced in June 2013 that their fiery couple, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, would be on television. Buzz was jarring at first – and it never stopped working. Call it the ecstatic groan heard around the world.

But that initial fervor is no guarantee that the epic will become the cultural icon it is. After all, TV has never seen this kind of genre fusion: a love story with a sci-fi blend, plus some historical fiction thrown in. How will that be of value in a wide range of procedures, medical shows and family dramas? Plus, the first book alone is over 600 pages, rich with descriptions, action, quirky characters, and multiple time periods. Getting it successfully from page to screen will not be a small feat.

outlander season 1 sam heughan and caitriona balfe

(Credit: Starz)

Swipe right to the executive producer Ronald D. Moore, then most famous as the host of the reimagined sci-fi favorite show Battlestar Galactica. He also worked on many versions of TV Star Trek Franchising. Not only can he build fantasy worlds, but he can also merge them with real, grounded human stories. That combination has been pinned by kilograms to Outlander succeed season after season.

When the film came out, critics raved and viewers swooned. Shot on location in Scotland (historic castle! Snowy mountains!), the film boasts period costumes meticulously researched by Terry Dresbach (Moore’s wife, who introduced him to the books) and inexpensive sets by production designer Jon Gary Steele. Sealing the deal: chemistry between potential customers Caitriona Balfe and Scots Sam Heughan. Book fans are suddenly full of companies.

Female viewers see themselves in Balfe’s smart, sexy Claire. Yes, she’s a woman in danger of being thrown into an unfamiliar world with prescribed narrowly feminine roles, but that doesn’t detract from her outspoken nature. In the gripping action scenes, she saved Jamie as much as he saved her. Jamie is a new kind of romantic hero: a warrior who lives by ancient rules of honor but is willing to learn and let his mind be changed by an older, modern woman. (He can teach a 21st-century man a thing or two!)

outlander season 1 sam heughan and caitriona balfe

(Credit: Starz)

Sex scenes like no one had ever seen on TV – or anywhere. They were not shot to attract the male gaze. No unrealistic gymnastics is done just to show off a woman’s curvaceous body. Claire’s happiness is just as important as Jamie’s, and she’s unafraid to ask what she wants – and directions. The first time the couple slept together, Moore insisted the scene was written and directed by a woman.

Flight content: You must watch this show. Starz subscriptions increased, Gabaldon’s book sales increased, and vacations to film locations became so popular that Scotland’s tourist board named it “” Outlander Effects.” Fans flocked to Comic-Con panels and conventions. (Men appeared in the kilos!) Devotees used proud nicknames: ” Heughligans” and “Caitriots.” Many award nominations and wins followed.

The long period between seasons is nicknamed the “Drought Zone”. This year has been fortunately parted by the fun of Starz Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip With Sam and Graham, a Scottish travel magazine with Heughan and model Graham McTavish, who played Dougal MacKenzie, Jamie’s uncle. For those still thirsty, there’s Heughan’s new brand of whiskey, Sassenach – also Jamie’s nickname for Claire.

Each time the show returns, something new ignites viewers’ passion: the corrupt Paris court plot; tragic end of Highlands culture at the Battle of Culloden; Claire’s pregnancy goes back to the 20th century and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies); the reunion of the Frasers; their daughter Bree (Sophie Skelton) and her boyfriend (now husband) Roger (Richard Rankin) travel through time to accompany them to the New World.

But if there’s one constant that’s welcome, it’s Claire’s enduring journey. She is a leader, like Outlander There is a trend towards more women-led programs. Since debut, we’ve seen everything from mystery Big Little Lies to historical drama Harlots, dark comedy Die with me and Fleabag and Michaela Colekeen I can destroy you. And prolific Gabaldon shows no signs of slowing down; her latest entry is number 9, Tell the bee that I’m dead, coming in November 2021. The show’s devotees will certainly raise a toast to that because, as Jamie himself could tell, when it comes to Outlander, we can not get enough.

Outlander, Season 6 Premiere, Sunday, March 6, August 9c, Starz

https://www.tvinsider.com/1028242/outlander-tv-history-jamie-claire-starz/ How the Starz series became a Hit Smash on TV

Caroline Bleakley

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