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Shrewsbury, Massachusetts-Over twenty years ago, Diana Gabaladon introduced the reading world to Claire Randall, the protagonist of her sweeping series Outlander. Since then, Randall and her adventures have enthralled readers around the world. That’s when former Battlestar Galatica showrunner Ronald D. Moore rose to bring the series to television. One of the summer’s most anticipated shows, Outlander finally made its premiere earlier this month.
Following the Allied victory of World War II, nurse Claire Randall is on a much-needed trip with her husband, Frank. They venture to the Scottish Highlands, where Frank’s ancestors lived. One morning, Claire accidentally ends up transported through time to Scotland in 1743. Claire uses her wits to survive a civil war while trying to find a way back home.
With a strong campaign from Starz and a capable showrunner behind the reins, anticipation was high for Outlander and some feared it might not be up to the task. Thankfully, Outlander is sweeping television, taking its premise with stride and providing a soaring adventure with searing detail. Moore takes the same care he took with rebooting Battlestar Galactica with spinning an engaging yarn. This is partly thanks to the show’s lead character, one of the best female characters on television today.
The male presence on the show is well done. Sam Heughan is appropriately dashing as Jamie Fraser, the Scottish warrior that Claire forms a connection to. Tobias Menzies does double work playing Claire’s husband Frank in 1945, and his villainous ancestor in 1743. However, they are completely outshined by the talents of Caitriona Balfe. Balfe’s Claire is fiercely independent, intelligent, and capable, and she garners the support of the audience right away. Balfe’s performance helps transform into a fully realized protagonist from the very start, which is a remarkable feat.
Outlander took its time to premiere, but now it seems it was worth the wait. The pilot is slow, but once the next couple episodes kick in, you see that it was just taking its time building to something bigger. With an intriguing premise and an outstanding performance from its lead, Outlander stands out among the crop of cable drama. With this sudden resurgence of historical drama, Outlander is the cream of the crop.
Outlander airs Saturdays @ 9pm on Starz.