Actors: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Graham McTavish
Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 3, 2015
“Outlander” is a series based upon the international bestselling book series by Diana Gabaldon, and is likely to be most appreciated by those familiar with the original text. It is not a difficult story to follow, but much of the praise the Starz Channel series has received has been about the faithfulness of the adaptation. Those unfamiliar with the romantic fantasy text are less likely to be impressed with the contrived narrative, though there is no denying the surefooted capabilities of the cast and crew in bringing this historically-based fantasy to life. There are eight novels in the series, with a ninth on the way. I don’t imagine that we will see an end to the television adaptations anytime soon either, with this narrative being dragged out and released in two sections, as studios have made habit out of feature-film adaptations.
Volume one of the first season follows the inexplicable time-traveling romantic adventure of British combat nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe). Shortly after the end of World War II, Claire reunites with her husband (Tobias Menzies) on a second honeymoon in
After walking through an ancient circle of stones in the surrounding area,
Claire is catapulted back in time to 1743 Scotland Scotland,
amidst rival Highland clans and a war against
the intrusive English army. Claire must use her knowledge of history and the
advances in medicine in order to compensate for her smaller stature amongst a
testosterone-fueled society of Highlanders. Though the MacKenzie clan takes her
in, many including their leader, Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish), are
suspicious of her motives because she is English.
Suspected of being a spy, Claire becomes more of a prisoner than a guest to the MacKenzie clan, though she quickly warms up to an outlaw nephew of the leader, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). I must at least give credit to the series for taking its time before the narrative falls into a fairly predictable love triangle. Why is it that every popular book franchise to be devoured by women in the last decade has revolved around the fantasy of several men desiring the affections of the same woman? From Twilight to Fifty Shades, it seems that the attention of one man is no longer fantasy enough. Despite Claire’s initial resistance, we know from the first moment we see Jamie’s feminine facial features combined with a well-built physique and long locks of curly hair that the narrative will eventually slip into the kind of housewife dribble you’d expect from a novel with Fabio on the cover. What is surprising is how little the series indulges in this portion of the storyline, instead strengthening it with real historical facts and events.
The first volume of the first season only contains the first eight of sixteen episodes, and takes its time with the material. This is likely why so many fans of the novels have praised the show, but it is also likely to drag for any viewer not already sold on the concept. It moves with such a lack of urgency that it is only the engaging performances that keep the show afloat. The eight initial episodes are included on two discs, along with the special features. Extras include two featurettes; one about the adaptation of the source material, and the second about the period wardrobe created for the show.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 6/10