Streaming Sunday features TV series or movies adapted from books I’ve read, offered on at least one streaming service and I’ve watched.
The Outlander series is an adaptation of the books of the same series name by Diana Gabaldon. It’s an historical time travel drama that transitions between post World War II (1945) and 18th century Scotland (1743). Claire Randall is a former combat nurse who finds herself suddenly transported back in time and encounters Highlander Jamie Fraser who will forever change her life.
The series premiered August 9, 2014 on Starz and is in its sixth season and renewed for a seventh. It’s produced and developed by Ron Moore with significant collaboration with the author who had veto power over the casting. It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser. Each season is based on the corresponding book.
I don’t typically like time travel stories because of inevitable paradoxes and didn’t want to read the first book, Outlander. I’d received it as a kindle freebie in 2010 and was constantly urged to read it by my friends on Shelfari, a site that was similar to Goodreads but significantly smaller and later merged into it by Amazon. I finally decided to read it in February 2012 and was blown away! The writing is extraordinary, the historical elements unparalleled and the romance captivating.
While I read the first book (over 600 pages), I switched to the audio version for the next two (over 15 hours of listening each). They’re narrated by Davina Porter who I believe was created just for these stories! Her mastery of all things Scottish brings everything to life.
When it was announced that the series was being developed for television production and streamed on Starz, I contacted my cable company and orchestrated a deal to add the channel for free. There was a lot of promotion for the first season release and fans of the book, who are legion, were avidly following all of it but nervous about how the beloved series would be developed on screen. Worries were put to rest when Caitriona and Sam were cast as the leads and producer Moore hired Gabaldon as a consultant (she’s written several of the episodes!). We fell in love with the first episode and never looked back.
The first season was groundbreaking on many fronts, particularly for the quality of the production, the costumes, location settings, authenticity and attention to historical details. But, the most memorable episode from that season is the seventh, The Wedding, because it includes a nude love scene purposefully filmed with a female perspective in mind. Trust me…they got everything right and it’s still one of the most talked about love scenes.
I couldn’t keep up with the books by the fourth season so I watched it, going in blind. I’ve gotten behind but definitely plan to return because it is one of my most favorite. But, be prepared because Gabaldon can be ruthless in what she inflicts on her characters…all of them. I highly recommend reading the first book (definitely on audio if you can do that) before starting the TV series. The adaptation is crazy great but I feel like it was helpful to have read the book first. After that, I don’t think it’s necessary, though I’m glad I got four books under my belt.
The series also began streaming on Netflix after the first season. It’s had 70 award nominations with 33 wins, including Best Actress and Best Actor nominations for Balfe and Heughan.