Thursday, August 28, 2014

Outlandish Observations is 6 years old!

Six years ago today, I started Outlandish Observations!

I had two goals in mind when I started this blog. The first was simply to learn about blogging. The second was to create a central repository for news and information for OUTLANDER fans, a place where people could go to find answers to commonly asked questions, links to other OUTLANDER-related sites, and the latest information on Diana Gabaldon's new and upcoming releases.

To say that this blog has succeeded far beyond my wildest imaginings is a severe understatement! In the beginning, I never expected anyone to visit my site except a few dozen of my friends from the Compuserve Books and Writers Community and LOL.  I didn't talk about it on Compuserve for the first couple of years, because I was very reluctant to draw attention to it where Diana Gabaldon could see -- which seems silly in retrospect, but it's true.  Suffice it to say that I did get over that shyness, eventually. <g>

I was delighted to see Outlandish Observations, and my Friday Fun Facts, mentioned in the Acknowledgements to WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD:

The FFF have been on hiatus for a few months -- I've just been much too busy! -- but I do intend eventually to put together some all-new FFF posts focusing on WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. (Maybe later this fall, after the craziness surrounding the TV series subsides a bit.)

Since the premiere of the OUTLANDER TV series, daily traffic on my site has gone way, way up! I've had three times more visitors this month than a year ago, as you can see from the chart below. (The blue represents unique visits, and the green is page views.)

Special thanks to all of my followers on the Outlandish Observations Facebook page! Last year at this time I had 4,195 followers on Facebook. Today that number is 5,455, an increase of 30%! I'm amazed and delighted that so many new people have found my site in recent months. Welcome, and I hope you take some time to look around and see what else is available here.

Outlandish Observations was one of the first successful OUTLANDER-related blogs. These days there are dozens and dozens of fan-sites, Facebook groups, and so on. The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned! <g> I'm proud to be a part of such a thriving, creative, and enthusiastic worldwide community of fans, united in our passion for these books and characters and this amazing story Diana Gabaldon has created.

No question about it, this is a very exciting time for OUTLANDER fans everywhere! It's quite a challenge to keep up with everything that's going on these days, and I hope you're finding this site helpful.

Many, many thanks to all of you who've visited Outlandish Observations over the past six years. It's been an amazing journey, and I'm so glad you've come along for the ride.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update on the TV series

A few quick updates on the OUTLANDER TV series:

1) OUTLANDER is continuing to do very well in the ratings on STARZ.  According to this site, more than 1 million viewers watched the premiere of Episode 103, "The Way Out", and the series is quickly becoming "appointment viewing" on Saturday nights.

2) New Zealand gets OUTLANDER starting August 28! The series will be shown on a new service called LightboxTV. For more information, look here and here.

PLEASE NOTE:  As I understand it, OUTLANDER episodes 101 - 103 should be available immediately on LightboxTV when the service launches on Thursday, and episode 104 will be available on Sunday.

3) Many of you will recall that Diana Gabaldon visited the set of OUTLANDER in February, 2014, and spent several days filming a cameo appearance on the show.  That scene will be in the upcoming Episode 104, "The Gathering", premiering in the US on August 30.  Diana says her part is very brief ("blink and you'll miss it", or words to that effect), but still, it will be fun to see her acting debut!

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

OUTLANDER podcasts now on iTunes!

I just found out that Ron Moore's OUTLANDER podcasts are now on iTunes:

This appears to be the permanent iTunes site for all of the STARZ OUTLANDER podcasts.  You can download and listen to the podcasts for Episode 101 ("Sassenach") and Episode 102 ("Castle Leoch").  The podcast for Episode 103 is not yet available for everyone; I'm told some people can access it on iTunes, but I haven't been able to do so yet.

If you don't have iTunes or you have trouble getting to the podcasts that way, try this:

Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested.  Thanks!

OUTLANDER premieres in Canada!

Great news for Canadian fans! The OUTLANDER TV series premieres tonight (August 24th) on Showcase!

I know the waiting has been hard for a lot of Canadian fans.  I hope all of you enjoy the first episode as much as I did! <g>

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, including a list of countries that will be showing the series, see my FAQ page here.

Episode 103: "The Way Out" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 103 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Way Out".


There are SPOILERS below!  If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The opening shot of the medicine bottles was a very effective way to set the scene and the time period, reminding the audience we're in the 18th century.  The abrupt transition to Claire and Frank in the train station circa 1940(?) was a shock, but I liked the scene very much.

"Woe betide the man who stands between you and what you set your mind upon." - Great line, and I laughed when I heard it.  I also like that Frank finds Claire's stubbornness attractive. <g>

"Promise you'll return to me" is just heartwrenching.  (Another good addition.)  This scene makes Frank a much more sympathetic character, IMHO, and I liked that.

I liked Claire's "Bloody hell!" under her breath when she's doused with cold water. (Did anybody else think of the "Ice Bucket Challenge" when watching this?  Given how much it's been in the news lately, it was kind of hard not to think of it.)

The whole scene with Mrs. Fitz is just terrific!  Very convincing, and I'm glad they didn't make it obvious that it was Claire's imagination.

I liked Claire's "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" when she sees the slaters. (If you want to see what they look like at close range, see my Friday Fun Facts post here.)

The scene with Colum and the tailor is absolutely priceless -- I loved the whole thing. Gary Lewis played that PERFECTLY. <g> This is one of my favorite scenes in the episode.

I thought that changing the massage scene from Alec (in the book) to Colum here was quite effective. I liked the way Colum went behind the drapes on the other side of the table to take his breeks off, so they didn't have to CGI his legs while he got undressed.

"You don't have demons in Oxfordshire, Mistress?"  "We do. But we call them Scots." - Good line, and I liked the fact that Claire actually made Colum laugh.

I loved Dougal's line at the beginning of the Hall scene: "It seems the feral cat we picked up on the road is trying to pull in her claws."

The scene between Claire, Laoghaire, and Jamie in the Hall was very good, just as I imagined, and also reassuring that they went back to the book.  I liked the way Claire poked Jamie when he said, "naught but a rabble of snot-nosed bairns." <g> Nell Hudson is excellent as L, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her.

Gwyllyn's music is beautiful.

I like the flickering light in the scene between J&C in the surgery. We don't actually need to see the fire in the hearth to know it's there; we can tell by the crackling sounds and the way the light and shadows play across the room. I thought that was very interesting, and effective.

I love the looks J&C are giving each other in this scene, while Claire inspects his injured shoulder. Also, the little sigh Claire gives at the end, when Jamie leaves, as if to say, "Yeah, he's hot, but....Frank!!"

The brief glimpse of the thistles made me smile.  I liked the scene with Geillis and Claire, and Angus is very funny! (I had no trouble telling who he was, in this episode.)

I like the cobbled streets.  I was a little uncertain where this scene was taking place, though.  On the castle grounds somewhere?  It seemed that the Baxter house is within walking distance of the castle, not as far away as Cranesmuir, but I could be wrong.

The scene with Father Bain is riveting and very well done.  He's just mesmerizing. <g>

I liked the way they worked in the alcove scene with Jamie and Laoghaire.  I bet we'll see that bit in flashback later!  And Angus, again, is very funny, the way he looks at Claire approvingly, like a parent with a child who's finally learned to mind him, when he sees she actually stayed put the way he told her to. <g>

The dining scene was very good.  Again, it's reassuring that they went back to the book for this scene, with only minor changes.  I thought it was fine for Murtagh to be the one speaking to Claire (rather than Old Alec, as it is in the book).  We really haven't seen Murtagh interact with her much so far, and this scene helps to make it clearer for the viewers, I think, that Murtagh is always looking out for Jamie's best interests.

"Not jealous of Laoghaire.  Jealous of their intimacy." -- interesting to hear Claire's thoughts here.

In Cranesmuir, I liked the fact that they remembered the diamond-paned windows in the Duncans' house!  (Good attention to detail there!)  Geillis talking about "a born temptress" made me smile -- look who's talking!  And it's clear from some of the things she says that Geillis already suspects Claire might be a time-traveler ("Assuming that's what you mean", etc.)

I love Geillis in this scene (her costume is beautiful), and Arthur is delightful, too. <g>

I caught a minor inconsistency in this bit:
Arthur:  "Stole two bannocks"
Claire, a moment later: "Stealing a loaf of bread"
So, um, which is it? (Too bad the production people didn't notice that. Oops.)

I liked the way they did the rescue of the boy who had his ear nailed to the pillory, very much like the book, and the transition to the Black Kirk scene was very smooth.

Wood garlic vs. lily-of-the-valley -- I'll have to look them up one of these days.  I thought that was fascinating.

I liked the way both Claire and Mrs. Fitz stood up to Father Bain. Good for them! <g>

Good scene with J&C and the horse.  It's not in the book, but it makes sense.

I liked the way they interspersed the song about the wife of Balnain with Claire's memories of Craigh na Dun.  Although, to be honest, I thought the way the lyrics of the song were changed so they EXACTLY paralleled what happened to Claire (touching the tallest stone threw her back in time, etc.) was rather contrived and heavy-handed compared to the way it's done in the book.  (Give the viewers credit for a little intelligence!  We're smart enough to figure it out without bright red flashing arrows pointing to the part we're supposed to take notice of.)

Finally, I liked the way Claire was wearing her hair loose, in the final scene.  She's beginning to relax just a bit, and I think that was a good sign.

My overall impression:  There's a lot to enjoy in this episode.  It's well-acted, well-written, and the music and the cinematography are very good.  But on the initial viewing, I found the deviations from the book rather disconcerting.  (Yes, of course I realize it's an adaptation, but I wasn't really expecting them to be inventing entire subplots that aren't in the book, and that took a while to adjust to.)  I liked this episode MUCH better the second time, now that I know what's going to be different, and what's going to be the same, and I can simply relax and enjoy the story.

And I am really looking forward to next week's episode!  Judging from the previews, it's going to be terrific! <g>

I hope you enjoyed this recap.  You can see my comments on the previous episodes here:

Episode 101: "Sassenach"
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"

Please come back next week for my recap of Episode 104!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Compuserve forums getting new software!

Here's an important announcement for those of you who post or follow the discussions on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which is the online forum where Diana Gabaldon hangs out.

This is a major system upgrade, the biggest change to Compuserve forums in ten years.  The forums will have a new look and feel, and vastly improved support for mobile devices such as tablets and iPhones.

The Books and Writers Community will have a new URL (web address), but it hasn't yet been announced.  I will update this post when I find out what it is.  In the meantime, if you have the site saved in your browser's Bookmarks or Favorites, you will be automatically forwarded to the new site when it launches on Monday.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have questions about how to use the new forum software, the best place to get answers is the Practice Forum. Although I personally have spent some time in the last couple of weeks testing the new software, I'm not an expert by any means, and you will get a faster response by asking on the Practice Forum.  Thanks.

Hope to see some of you on the new site!

UPDATE 8/27/2014 6:46 am:  The upgrade has been rescheduled for Thursday, August 28, from 6 am - 6 pm ET.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Season 2 speculations

Ever since we heard the official announcement that the OUTLANDER TV series has been renewed for a second season, there has been a lot of speculation about how they're going to handle the "framing story" that opens and closes DRAGONFLY IN AMBER.

*** SPOILER WARNING!  If you haven't read Diana Gabaldon's DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Book 2 in the OUTLANDER series, there are MAJOR spoilers for that book below!  ***









The opening section of DRAGONFLY, starting with "Inverness, 1968", is quite a shock for first-time readers.  And it seems to me that if the producers open Season 2 the same way the book does, with Claire and Brianna and Roger in 1968, they risk alienating viewers who have grown to love Jamie, and were expecting to see a continuation of Jamie and Claire's story from Season 1.  Not to mention giving away, to viewers who have not read the books, the fact that Claire will eventually go back to her own time and have a daughter.

An alternative approach would be to start off Season 2 right where they left off, with Jamie and Claire in France in 1744, and end the season with Claire going back through the stones just before Culloden.  The framing story, along with the introduction of Roger and Bree, could be covered in the first episode of Season 3, assuming there is one.

Whatever they decide to do, I'm sure they will put a lot of thought into it.  The writers have done a fabulous job so far in adapting OUTLANDER for TV.  DRAGONFLY IN AMBER presents unique challenges of its own, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they deal with it.