The Move From Print to Film: How “Outlander” Stacks Up So Far

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 29, 2014

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I am so excited to share a guest post with you today on a topic that I am very passionate about at the moment: the Outlander television series! I was initially immersed in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels more than two years ago, and although I still have a few books in the queue before I’m all caught up, Claire Randall’s amazing story of romance, tragedy, hope – and inexplicable time travel – has captivated me from page one. And now, it’s coming to life right in my living room.

I’ve been following news about the show for a while via Diana’s Facebook page and was thrilled when I found out I could watch the first episode for free online. It was so good that I made Bobby watch it…and then we both decided it was necessary to subscribe to STARZ for the rest of the season. (Trust me, that means it’s really good, haha!) We’ve been hooked ever since – the show has so far remained relatively true to the book while solidifying in my mind the fact that these actors were meant to play the characters I’ve come to know and love. We’re only three episodes in, so there’s still plenty of time for you to catch up if you haven’t been watching already!

But enough gushing from me for now. I’m turning things over to Elizabeth Eckhart, a graduate writing student who loves to blog about literature, film and other entertainment in her free time. She also really enjoys food! She can be followed and contacted through Twitter, @elizeckhart.

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The Move From Print to Film: How “Outlander” Stacks Up So Far

Especially in the case of literature, it is rare that both women and men equally enjoy a story, but author Diana Gabaldon’s multi-genre writing has attracted the admiration of practically everyone who has read the series. The crossing of genres includes mystery, action, romance, fantasy, drama and science fiction, making it some of the most ambitious literature to reach the upper echelons of popularity. Whether it is the convincing violence, believable time travel, inclusion of real-world historical figures or the phenomenally descriptive writing, there are any number of reasons that have turned casual readers into fervent fans.

After years of clamoring for a filmed version of their favorite novels, the immensely popular book series Outlander has recently come to fruition as a television series. Though there was originally discussion of turning the books into movies, most fans agreed that their epic lengths – they each hover around 1,000 pages each – would be far better suited for a television series and, much to readers’ joy, STARZ picked it up precisely for that.

Still, even with a built-in fan base, STARZ had, and still has, a number of challenges on its hands for production. First off was the knowledge that many fans weren’t STARZ subscribers already. To tease viewers into a possible subscription, STARZ followed the paths of Netflix, Amazon and DIRECTV, who all already have exclusive series on demand online, and even made Outlander’s first episode available to all. For future episodes, however, their viewership may drop as fans debate whether or not to purchase the channel. (It’s worth it! -Jenn)

In addition, the heavy first-person narration that occurs from Claire’s point of view in the novels offered readers a large amount of exposition. For the show, this was accomplished by tapping into voiceover narrative – which was a bold choice, considering the technique has become passé in recent years. Nevertheless, it has so far worked very well for the show.

The show is already slated for season two, which will follow the second book. The second novel ages Claire and Jamie considerably, and that may not only shock those new to Outlander but may also stand as a real challenge for directors and actors in execution, and could even be unbelievable to viewers if not done well.

In regards to casting, message boards online used to light up with suggestions, but no consensus was ever found prior to STARZ’ selections. However, there was one aspect everyone could agree on: that actors chosen for Outlander should be relative unknowns. Thankfully, that’s exactly the route STARZ took. Right now, names like Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sam Heughan (Jamie) and Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall, Frank Randall) might not be on the tips of tongues, but as we’ve seen from the immensely popular Game of Thrones or Mad Men, unknowns have a way of quickly becoming household names.

Likewise, by making this move to the small screen, the variations between book and show have been so well implemented that the stories will likely have a much larger audience potential. For the premiere episode, readers were initially surprised to see the sex scene occur between Frank and Claire, as it didn’t happen in the book, but it was ultimately met with fan approval since the scene helped sensually represent the strong intimacy between the two characters in the shorter span of a TV show.

Insofar as storyline accuracy is concerned for future episodes and seasons, executive producer Ronald D. Moore has repeatedly said he would stay true to the books. A lot of this accuracy is secured by the fact that Moore’s wife is reportedly a huge fan of Outlander and he would have hell to pay for diverging from the source material. Even if she wasn’t, though, there really isn’t any reason to move away from the novels, since there is just so much to work with that inherently ensures the show’s staying power.

To date, critics and viewers have earned the show favorable ratings across the board. Even die-hard fans of the novel have expressed their love of the first episodes so far, and those are the most difficult fans in the world to please when transitioning from print to film. Ronald D. Moore and STARZ definitely seem to be on the right track thus far, and we can’t wait to see the many more that are sure to come!

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Thanks for sharing such great insight, Elizabeth! If you’re intrigued and interested in checking out the show, I encourage you to watch the first episode online and/or the trailer below:

Are you an Outlander fan? Have you watched the television series yet?

Edited to add: The show airs on Saturdays at 9:00 pm ET/PT.

Abrazos,

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A Sizzlin’ Weekend

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 28, 2014

Somehow I blinked and it was almost Labor Day weekend. The inevitable end of summer is upon us, and while it has been a little crazy seeing fall decorations (and Halloween candy?!) on display already, I have to admit that I’m more than ready for my favorite season to arrive. Cooler temperatures (well, sort of), warm drinks and a reason to buy pumpkins? I’m there.

But to be fair, it has been an amazing summer. We’ve been equal parts busy and not busy, and I’ve made more of an effort to disconnect. That has also meant less blogging, which I miss, but there are plenty of good reasons, I promise.

One good reason? My best friend Sam came to visit me for a long weekend!

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This is the first time Sam has been in Arizona since we moved here, so it was a lot of fun to be able to show her our still new-ish neighborhood. Of course, we did have to bring back some favorites from the last time she visited, including a Friday night at the Buffalo Chip Saloon!

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We saw one successful bull rider and several adorable kids on sheep, too. Always a good time.

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The next day we took a trip to the Musical Instrument Museum, which is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite museums anywhere. It displays more than 6,000 instruments from around 200 of the world’s countries and territories. There are also displays for specific people, like Elvis Presley, the Beatles and current artists such as Taylor Swift.

Many of the displays have audio and video technology that allows you to see and hear the instruments being played. Basically, you get to walk around with headphones and enjoy music for three hours. It’s awesome.

At the end of the exhibit tour there is an experience gallery, which allows you to try several of the instruments for yourself. Sam pretty much rocked the electronic theremin, which we had never heard of before but quickly became a favorite.

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If you aren’t familiar with it, either, you should definitely check out her skills in this video:

Pretty awesome, right? My harp-playing abilities, on the other hand, were not quite as gifted.

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We continued around the room playing xylophones, güiros and gongs. Then as we were leaving, a staff member offered to take photos of us for free. You don’t need to ask us twice.

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On the last day of Sam’s trip, we decided to have a Pinterest party! After scouring the site for recipes, we narrowed it down to an appetizer, entrée and dessert. First up: Zucchini Parmesan Crisps. These are easy and tasty, and would definitely make for a great snack on a regular basis.

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Our main course was grass-fed beef tacos, which we ultimately decided to make using our own “what we’re craving” recipe. They were topped with cheese, peppers, salsa, Greek yogurt “sour cream” and freshly made guacamole.

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But the best was truly saved for last. After drooling over these Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction (seriously, go to that post and look at the pictures), we knew we had to give them a try. Bobby graciously agreed to be a tester.

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Although our sprinkles ended up melting into the cookies, you could taste the cross between chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake in every bite. There’s no doubt that these cookies will be added to my rotation in the future.

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As always, the visit was way too short, but we packed in a lot of activity and it was really nice to be able to catch up with Sam in person. Can’t believe we are coming up on her first wedding anniversary in a month and a half!

Any big plans for Labor Day weekend?

We were in California last weekend with the nieces pieces and co., so this weekend will be a relaxing one at home. Although that said, we do have a few things on the agenda, including our (drumroll, please), first college football game of the season! Go Cats!

Abrazos,

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Ireland, Day Five: Moll’s Gap, Ladies View, Jameson Distillery and Kinsale

August 9, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Day Three – Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney Day Four – Tralee and Killarney National Park Our fifth day in Ireland was a scenic road trip that included a partial tour of the Ring of Kerry and stops in […]

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Summertime Happenings

July 31, 2014

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a little more than a month into summer. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m currently editing magazine articles about pumpkins and fall foliage (my favorites). Luckily I need only walk outside for Arizona to remind me of exactly where we are on the calendar. Nothing screams ’tis the season more than cookies […]

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Ireland, Day Four: Tralee and Killarney National Park

July 18, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Day Three – Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney I swear I blinked and July was half over already. The summer is flying by as usual, and we’ve been having a lot of fun spending time […]

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Ireland, Day Three: Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney

July 2, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Our third day in Ireland was one big scenic road trip, with Killarney as the final destination. We woke up early once again to grab breakfast from Doonbeg Lodge before we headed out. I started with a glass o’ […]

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Ireland, Day Two: Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch

June 24, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg I’ll probably end up saying this more than once, but our second morning in Ireland definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite parts of the trip. We woke up bright and early, pulling back the curtains to this view of the golf course we had played the previous afternoon. […]

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Ireland, Day One: Bunratty and Doonbeg

June 12, 2014

“You’re very welcome.” -A common way of saying “hello and welcome” in Ireland As some of you know or might have guessed, my most recent blogging break was due to a vacation that has been nearly six months in the making. Mama Bender, Papa Bender, Eric, Bobby and I had the chance to visit Ireland for 10 days. […]

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