And let the critiquing begin….a review of Outlander reviews.


imageThe first episode of Outlander on Starz has been made available to the public and a great many in the press have seen at least six episodes. Being very interested in the success of the show, I have been watching for the inevitable reviews.  They’re out there.  And I’ve read as many as I could find. To my credit, I’ve only responded to a few. IKR! This is amazing restraint on my part!  While reading I started to notice some patterns to the critiques.  The raised concerns and observations seemed to be getting repeated by various authors.  So, I’m going to place the reviewers into camps:

Camp Bodice Ripper:

You belong in this camp if you are of the opinion that this show is nothing more than romance pandering.  To be a successful camper at Camp Bodice Ripper, it appears you must be somewhat dismissive of women, especially of those in “middle-age”. You must be able to write a review that uses a plethora of pop-culture cliches and catch-phrases. It appears these campers drink a lot of “male viewers determine film worthiness” flavored Kool-aid.

Camp Structrual Issues:

Earning an extra hot dog around the campfire in Camp Structural Issues requires the camper to be able to look at the show in light of other shows.  These folks believe themselves to be experts at recognizing the elements that make for a successful T.V. Series.  Some of the most discussed elements in Outlander were its pacing, voice-over, characters and filming. I give this camp some credit for having differing opinions on the effectiveness of these elements. There actually appears to be two companies of thought in this camp. Company one believes the slower pacing bodes well for character development and a “slow burn” for the main characters’ love story. They believe it makes it sexier and the end result is worth the wait. Company two believes the pacing is too slow and laden with too many voice overs. They are concerned that perhaps Ron Moore is being too faithful to the book.   They believe the plot is lumbering and risks boring the viewer as a result.  However, both companies seem to agree that episode six was wonderful and that they hold out hope that things just might get better.  Both companies in this camp praised the music and the beauty of the film.

Camp Will It Appeal to Men:

These campers seem to be concerned that the series will fail unless Starz finds a way to make this story appeal to men.  These campers seem to be astonished that Ron Moore, given his successful track record on other television projects, is at the helm of this show.  They just don’t seem to get why this appealed to him and seem genuinely worried for him.  They can’t seem to get past the romance element either, despite Ron’s assurances that it’s a “ripping good yarn”. In my opinion, these campers don’t even seem to consider that the show might succeed without male viewership.

Camp Strong Woman Protagonist:

These campers are singing around the campfire holding hands and generally feeling pretty good about Outlander.  They are excited to see women portrayed in a positive realistic manner.  For once, they repeatedly wrote, we get to see  (I’m paraphrasing many authors) a “self-actualized woman who expects to be treated by her perceived worth”.  They feel the world is more than ready for a strong female protagonist.

Camp What’s Not to Like:

I’m thinking of joining this camp. They seem to be my kind of people! These campers are not pulling things apart nor do they seem to have any kind of political agenda.  They just point out that here is a lot to like in this series; adventure, the beauty of Scotland, great chemistry, historical interest, and a story that leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

I know I didn’t quote any specific authors in my review (frankly, there were just too many) nor did I address every issue reviewed. This was just my general impression after having read dozens of critiques.  For the most part, I believe Outlander was positively received.  I agree that it is about time for a strong female protagonist of redeeming moral character.  I loved the love story at the center of the books and early indications are that it plays well on the screen.  The music, scenery and costumes were breathtaking. That ritual in the standing stones made me gasp.  And…most importantly….when the hour was over, I wasn’t ready for it to end.  Only time will tell, but this fan gives it two thumbs up!



26 thoughts on “And let the critiquing begin….a review of Outlander reviews.

  1. jomarie

    I think I read a lot of the same reviews you did. 🙂 And I’m definitely a member of the last camp as well. How can you submerse yourself in this world if you’re going to nitpick everything? I thought they did a great job with the acting, music, and scenery to create a time and place I want to go back to. I didn’t have a problem with the pacing. This is primarily a character driven story IMO, and people need time to absorb what’s going on.

    As far as the reviews go, I seriously just wish they’d let the show stand on it’s own merits. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. Stop comparing it to Game of Thrones, trying to get men to watch, and making a big deal about a strong female character. Just call it a good story, and leave it at that.

  2. Kathryn Findlay Mayfield

    Network TV shows seem to make or break on the basis of the 1st episode. I trust that cable networks are looking at performance over time (at least the first 6-8 episodes). I enjoyed the show very much and hope the fans will continue to support Starz, spreading the good word and show the reviewers the merits of this type of program.

    • I think they will. In some ways, this show is ground breaking. My hope is we will see more quality programming geared toward women. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. You’re missing “Camp Historian” which is spending not insignificant time reminding itself it isn’t a documentary, no matter how well researched the books are. But then, Camp Historian gets twitchy over period appropriate silhouettes, knitted items, and whether or not forks should be used at table.

  4. DebbieW

    You’ve done it again, Beth! Balanced insights positively phrased along with wit and humor (in some cases, much-needed humor). Bravo!

    • Read a few in my day 😉 Rosemary Rodgers comes to mind. To be fair (cough) Claire does get her bodice ripped a couple of times! Well, …Jack actually uses a knife, but…

  5. We all knew these were coming… The majority of the reviews have been positive so that definitely bodes well for the series. How the rest of the season plays out for these same reviewers will be a test for all of us.

    I’ve just decided to take it all in and remember that they can have their opinions. I’m going to try very hard to “get over” any prejudgements I may have of any nay-sayers or TV/book elitists. It will be difficult. Hell, our own fandom has very strong opinions and we don’t always get along! I’ll just promise to smile with every post and not be too snarky.

    • Exactly what I decided. Everyone has an opinion and time WILL tell. I didn’t even go near the fandom stuff! People are still arguing over casting?! Thanks for reading and taking he time to comment.

  6. Linda L

    Finally…a voice of reason. Great review of the reviews! I just want to see more of a good story. Thanks for the positivity and good-humor.

  7. (I lost my comments the first time…now I have to do it again)

    I love your comments about the various classes of reviewers, and I thoroughly agree with you! I saw the preview of OUTLANDER, and I loved the casting, the narration, and the music I’ve heard so far. I can’t wait to see all the 16 episodes…as well as the shows about the rest of the series.

  8. Rita

    Absolutely two thumbs up. And STARZ has already signed on for season 2. YIPPEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m surprised at the camp that believes men won’t watch. True Blood ended their run after season 7 not because of down ratings but because of lack of storyline and ” where do we go from here”. An excellent decision I think. My honey never watched TB as he wasn’t into the whole fantasy aspect. I don’t know how many men did or did not watch TB. It was very successful regardless of the gender that was watching it.

    Jamie is a definite mans man in my opinion. Part of what makes him so attractive. Outlander is so much more than the romance that I believe men will absolutely be drawn to a great, adult, smartly written, beautifully filmed story that is, thank God, like nothing else on TV with many strong male characters. Ugh … people. To compare Outlander to GoT is silly, however, the Mother of Dragons is a very strong female character and the most intelligent and well played male character is a small person. My point is don’t under estimate the male audience. My honey follows GoT but he also loves Downton Abbey.

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