The 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!