Monday, August 11, 2014

Outlander 1.01 Series Premiere Review - A Long Journey in Time

The new series Outlander premiered Saturday night, in a basically self-titled series debut entitled ‘Sassenach’ – which one character explains as meaning Englishman, or at its worst outlander. The show opens up just after the end of World War II and our heroine Mrs. Claire Randall learning she is to reunite with her husband – to which she’s only seen a total of ten days in the last five years. The series opens really well, with a lovely voice over from our lead character kind of tying together choices with the present and the past, with a vase being a symbol of one choice that isn’t made.
Perhaps it was going into this series with an open mind and being comfortable with more intellectual material than a lot of television series demonstrate these days, but I thought this show was extremely enjoyable. If you’re going in expecting big scenes of action and destruction than this is not the show for you, there’s more of a finesse and detail to this series that takes it about half the first episode to get to the really peculiar circumstances Claire finds herself in.
This episode was very beautifully done in that matter; it doesn’t leave us with the shocker of Claire being in another time in the last five minutes which would strive to bring us back next week – which I was very thankful for – but it also doesn’t give us all the information involved that would drive our curiousity out the window – and us along with it. We know she’s ended up two hundred years in the past, but we don’t know why, how, or if she’ll be stuck there for good. There’s a good chance she’ll spend a great deal of time there, given her palm reading earlier in the episode depicts two marriages – please let it be that beautifully chiseled soldier whose shoulder she pops back in its socket – without a broken long.
Speaking of that beautiful man with the jaw of a Greek god, I’d like to take a look at the characters we’ve been introduced to us thus far. Obviously, there’s Claire, our heroine, whose smart, committed to her husband, and isn’t the believing type. The actress does a fine job of carrying this series, depicting a natural curiousity and a deep fondness for her husband. She’s very likeable, and despite the feeling I get that she is more than her husband, they seem very much in love. Mr. Frank Randall, however, is a little tedious, and a bit of a bore, but I can still evidently see the love he shares with his wife. These two fit well together, but there’s almost something missing that makes this time travelling adventure quite perfect. Mr. Chiseled Jaw, aka Jamie Fraser (although I don’t believe his name was actually mentioned in the pilot), on the other hand, instills a kind of excitement that makes me wishful that this is the other husband Claire will have. The chemistry is there between them, and that they keep being thrown together throughout the latter half of the first episode is a good sign, but it could always be a red herring. I am excited to learn more about his character, though.
In a technical aspect, this series was very well written, well acted, and the cinematography was neither disorienting or too in your face. The lighting didn’t have me squinting to see what was going on, like so many series do, particularly when natural lighting is all that is involved, and the transitioning – or fluidity – of the episode worked quite well. Also, I really enjoyed the costumes, particularly Claire’s outfits. They made me want to find something of the sort and for society to kind of go back to a 1940’s style of dress – rather than the eye roll inducing crop tops and shorts/dresses/skirts that leave nothing to the imagination. Now I’m no historian, so I can’t speak to the validity of any of the costume pieces, but I thought that they were quite well done, as well as the rest of the set dressing.
While I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this series and desire to watch it again next Saturday, I am quite glad I was given this review to write, for it gave me the chance to give this show a shot. Everything about this series really worked for me, and while it may eventually grow tiresome, I am definitely excited to give the rest of this season a chance. It was very beautifully done, and somehow gave me a Legend of the Seeker vibe to it. And it also makes me want to go out and buy the books the series is based on right away. So, if you’ve come to this review to see whether or not you should give Outlander a chance, let me just say that if you have an open mind about, and don’t expect something constantly in your face, this would definitely be a welcome addition to your TV schedule. That’s just from one TV addict to another.
My rating: 8 out of 10.

Best Lines:
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” – Claire says. “I’m not at all sure that I haven’t.” – Frank replies.