Note: This article was originally published in The Sting back in the fall of 2014. As such, this review only covers the pilot episode.
On August 9th Starz launched its new highly anticipated series, Outlander, a drama based off of the well-loved book series by Dianna Gabaldon, and found incredible success. The pilot could be viewed before its initial airdate and received positive reviews. When the series first premiered live the pilot had 72,000 viewers, and since then has landed over 3.7 million views, according to the TV by the Numbers website. Surprisingly for a show centered on a female character and involving a lot of romance, there was a near equal amount of male viewers as there were female.
Outlander centers on a nurse named Claire Beauchamp Randall (played by Irish model and actress Caitriona Balfe) who has recently reunited with her husband, Frank, after the end of the Second World War. On their honeymoon in Scotland, Claire manages to accidentally travel back in time to the year 1743—a time when Scotland was ravaged by civil war, fighting the English that wish to claim the country. How she appeared there is a mystery, but Claire soon finds out that she is not dreaming, because her life is constantly in danger from both the English and the Scottish soldiers. She crosses paths with an ancestor of her husband, Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies, who also plays Frank, most recognizable from his roles in HBO’s Rome as Brutus and his appearance in the third season of Game of Thrones as Edmure Tully, the groom at the infamous Red Wedding), but finds that this particular Randall, an English Captain, is far from the loving husband she left behind. Claire also meets Jamie, a Scottish warrior (Sam Heughan in a break-out performance) who helps her navigate the foreign, dangerous terrain.
The hit new series has a wonderful score composed by Bear McCreary, a man whose name you may not recognize, who has had untold success composing for many popular shows, such as AMC’s The Walking Dead, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Starz’s series Black Sails, and Da Vinci’s Demons, the latter of which he won an Emmy for.
Due to Outlander’s successful start, the series will have a first season consisting of sixteen episodes, and has already been renewed for a second season. It may be that HBO’s hit Game of Thrones could soon find a worthy competitor in Outlander for TV’s favorite fantasy drama.
Along with strong performances, lovely music, and an entrancing mystery, viewers will be entranced by the lush scenery, filmed on location in Scotland, firmly believing they too have been taken on a trip back in time, only this is a trip they will not wish to leave any time soon.