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!  ***

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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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A new record!

I had a total of 4,066 visitors to my blog yesterday, which is a new one-day record!  (That's 16.27% higher than the previous one-day record, set on May 1, 2013, the day the OUTLANDER TV series was announced.)

I'm thrilled to see so many more people visiting this site in recent weeks. If you're new here, welcome! I hope you'll take some time to look around and see what else is available here.

Thanks so much to ALL of you for your continued support of Outlandish Observations.  It means a lot to me. <g>

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ron Moore's podcast of Episode 102



The latest installment in Ron Moore's series of podcasts with detailed commentary on the OUTLANDER TV series is now available!  This one covers Episode 102 ("Castle Leoch").  You can download it here.  It's about an hour long, like the episode itself, and definitely worth listening to!  Ron Moore is joined in this podcast by his wife, Terry Dresbach, one of the costume designers on the show.

You can listen to this podcast in iTunes or on your favorite portable device, but it's best appreciated if you can watch the episode, with the sound turned down, while you listen to the podcast.

If you enjoy listening to this sort of commentary on DVDs of other TV series (and I always do!), I'm sure you'll love this podcast.

Ron Moore has said he intends to do one of these for every episode, and I'm really looking forward to the next installment!

In case you missed it, the Episode 101 podcast is here.

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

Episode 102: "Castle Leoch" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 102 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Castle Leoch".

I thought this episode was AMAZING! Wonderful. Absolutely riveting throughout, and very, very faithful to the book. <g>  (By which I mean, it's a very effective adaptation, and where changes have been made, all of them make sense, IMHO, and add to the story rather than detracting from it.)

I liked this episode even more than the first one. And Sam Heughan is just perfect as Jamie. <g>

*** SPOILER WARNING!! *** 

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

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I thought the brief recap before the opening credits was a very effective way of summarizing the first episode for viewers who hadn't seen it.  Nice to see Gary Lewis and Lotte Verbeek in the opening credits, and it's much easier to see Diana's name in this week's credits, with the white text against a dark background.

Wonderful to see Old Alec, even with two functioning eyes. <g>  Love his dialogue when they arrive at the castle.

I love the first scene with Mrs. Fitz, especially the way she teases Murtagh about his stink. <g> It's great that they managed to keep so much of the dialogue from the book -- that's always reassuring.

Very effective use of brief flashbacks in the corridor. I like this technique, and the way it's used throughout the episode to show us Claire's memories.

The first sight of Jamie's back was horrifying, as it should be, but very much as described in the book.

"Why were you escaping in the first place?" "They were holdin' me prisoner."  Matter-of-fact, and very much in character.

The whole scene at Lallybroch was just riveting, very tense and dramatic, extremely well acted.  BJR rubbing his saliva over Jenny's face made me shudder with revulsion. I was NOT (at all) expecting the bodice-ripping, but it's fitting, in character for BJR (as is the way he forced Jamie to watch), and I have no problem with it.  I am wondering how they'll reconcile this with Jenny telling the story later, where she "taunted him wi' [her] breasts", etc., but it's a really minor point.

BJR beating Jamie was hard to watch, but I kept reminding myself that it's only a faint taste of what's to come.  I liked how unemotional BJR seemed through the whole thing.

"Your husband is a lucky man" - good way to segue into Frank's POV, but I'm glad they only showed a brief glimpse of Frank and the Rev. Wakefield in the present day, keeping the focus on Claire's story.

The first time Jamie holds Claire as she sobs -- it felt JUST like the book, to me <g>, and I just love the way they look into each other's eyes just before she says, "I'm sorry".  We know that Jamie was falling in love with her there, and it shows.

The dressing scene is WONDERFUL, and I'll go back and watch this many more times, I'm sure. <g>  Terrific idea to show all the layers, and exactly what's involved in getting dressed in 18th c. clothing.  I was fascinated.  And I laughed at Mrs. Fitz's reaction to the bra.

I love that they remembered the bird cages in Colum's room. <g>  The first sight of Colum's legs is shocking, but I think they did a good job in portraying the "shockingly bowed and stumpy legs" described in the book. Very cool the way they did that!  And his gait, too, is fascinating to watch.

I liked the little flashback with Frank on how to resist interrogation. <g>  Very much as described in the book, but showing, not telling.

"Is there ever a good reason for rape, Master MacKenzie?"  Good line, and her delivery was perfect! Score one for Claire!

The bit about the tinker coming in five days is of course not in the book, but I thought it was effective.  It's realistic (in a place as busy as this, there must be wagons coming and going all the time, and why shouldn't Claire take advantage of that?) and it adds some urgency (and some suspense) to her desire to leave the castle.  In the book, she seems to fall into a routine a little too easily in the beginning, IMHO, so I like this addition.  It's plausible.

I love the first view of the exterior overlooking the courtyard.  What magnificent scenery!  Notice "Loch Lomond" playing very softly in the background? <g>  The scene with Dougal and young Hamish is terrific, and the boy is very cute!

The dinner scene - The hall is very much the way I pictured it, and I liked the way everyone stared at Claire as she entered.  Claire doesn't eat much in this scene (maybe one bannock?) but I couldn't help but notice that she's drinking an awful lot.  I love the way Dougal stays quiet, saying almost nothing, but his eyes are watchful and it's clear he's taking in every single detail about Claire.

"With your father" -- OOPS!!  Put your foot in the middle of it, didn't you, Claire? <g>  This was effective, though, in explaining the situation to viewers without a lot of tedious voice-over.  And I loved the way Hamish and his mother reacted.

That's quite an impressive kitchen - very realistic-looking!  I'll have to go back and look closer at the details.

"She's just a girl with spirit, is all.  That's always a good thing."  - This line of Jamie's isn't in the book, but I love it!  Clearly he's thinking of Claire when he says it. <g>

I like the stable scene. It feels very close to the book, even if it's not word for word identical.  I had to laugh when Jamie squatted down, very carefully not giving the viewers a peek under his kilt!

"Try not to get flogged or stabbed today."  "No promises, Sassenach."  - I love that they're already teasing each other, even this early in their relationship.  This exchange is terrific, and a good addition.

The scene between Claire and Rupert is great.  I only wish Rupert had been introduced by name. We know who he is, but how will the audience know?  (Unless I missed where Claire was told his name?)

Great confrontation between Claire and Dougal in the corridor. It reminds me of Jamie, many years later, saying, "Ye were always bolder than was safe."  Her personality comes through very well here.  Another good addition!

I like the fact that Claire is hearing 1940's music in her head ("Run Rabbit Run", etc.) just before she meets Geillis. And Lotte Verbeek is very good as Geillis!  Looking forward to seeing more of her.

I liked seeing L's father, though I do have to feel a bit sorry for him.  Having L for a daughter must be quite stressful at times! <g>

The whole punishment scene was just wonderful, and very faithful to the book, even though it's Rupert who actually administers the blows.  I liked the drums in the background.  And Jamie's face is very, very expressive.  You can tell exactly what he's thinking in this scene.  When Rupert hit him on the injured shoulder, I said, "Hey, that's not fair!!", and immediately recalled the much older Jamie saying (to Roger), "Dirty fighting is the only kind there is."  So even though this is not quite the way it happened in the book, it definitely works, and it's plausible.

The scene afterward between J&C is pretty close to the book, except for the absence of the leeches.

I loved the series of "deja vu" moments as Claire enters the apothecary.  And her confrontation with Colum was great, even if she did find herself outmaneuvered by him. <g>

"You mean I'm your prisoner, don't you?" "Only if you try to leave." - great line.

Notice the tears on Claire's cheek, just after the door closes.  Very dramatic end to this episode!

I loved it and I really can't wait to see more!!

My reactions to Episode 101 are here if you're interested.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

OUTLANDER is #1!

Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER is #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List this week, in two different categories (Combined Print and E-Book Fiction, as well as E-Book Fiction) and #3 in the Paperback Mass-Market Fiction category.



And WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD is still hanging in there, #18 on the Hardcover Fiction list this week.

Congratulations, Diana!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

OUTLANDER renewed for Season 2!



It's official! The OUTLANDER TV series has been renewed for a second season!!

Look here for details.  I have no more information at this time.

Can you imagine all those scenes in Paris and Versailles, with those amazing 18th-century ball gowns? I'm really looking forward to this!

Here's Diana Gabaldon's reaction on Twitter:

And here's the announcement on her Facebook page.

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

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #10



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books. This is a collection of some of my favorite items from previous FFF posts. In honor of the OUTLANDER TV series, this week's collection includes items from OUTLANDER only. I hope you enjoy them!



1) This photo shows what a Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) looks like.
"Lord help us, it’s the young Scottish wildcat! I thought I’d dealt with you once and for all! Back healed after all, did it? And this is your wife, you say? Quite a tasty little wench, she is, quite like your sister.”

Still shielded by his partly turned body, Randall’s knife-hand swiveled; the blade was now pointed at my throat. I could see Jamie over his shoulder, braced in the window like a cat about to spring. The pistol barrel didn’t waver, nor did he change expression. The only clue to his emotions was the dusky red creeping up his throat; his collar was unbuttoned and the small scar on his neck flamed crimson.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Une Mauvais Quart D'Heure After Another". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)


Here's a brief video about Scottish wildcats.  These beautiful animals are on the verge of extinction, due to interbreeding with feral domestic cats.

From Wikipedia:
The wildcat is considered an icon of the Scottish wilderness, and has been used in clan heraldry since the 13th century. The Picts venerated wildcats, having probably named Caithness (Land of the Cats) after them. According to the foundation myth of the Catti tribe, their ancestors were attacked by wildcats upon landing in Scotland. Their ferocity impressed the Catti so much, that the wildcat became their symbol. A thousand years later, the progenitors of Clan Sutherland, equally impressed, adopted the wildcat on their family crest.
Several different clans, including Sutherland, MacPherson, and Mackintosh, have wildcats in their emblems.



2) Remember the injury Jamie suffered just before Claire met him for the first time? Here's an X-ray image from Wikipedia where you can clearly see that the shoulder joint has come out of the socket.
"You have to get the bone of the upper arm at the proper angle before it will slip back into its joint,” I said, grunting as I pulled the wrist up and the elbow in. The young man was sizable; his arm was heavy as lead.

“This is the worst part,” I warned the patient. I cupped the elbow, ready to whip it upward and in.

His mouth twitched, not quite a smile. “It canna hurt much worse than it does. Get on wi’ it.” Sweat was popping out on my own face by now. Resetting a shoulder joint is hard work at the best of times. Done on a large man who had gone hours since the dislocation, his muscles now swollen and pulling on the joint, the job was taking all the strength I had. The fire was dangerously close; I hoped we wouldn’t both topple in, if the joint went back with a jerk.

Suddenly the shoulder gave a soft crunching pop! and the joint was back in place. The patient looked amazed. He put an unbelieving hand up to explore.

“It doesna hurt anymore!” A broad grin of delighted relief spread across his face, and the men broke out in exclamations and applause.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 3, "The Man in the Wood". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


The diagram above, from moveforwardpt.com, shows the difference between a normal and a dislocated shoulder.  Click on the picture for a bigger view.



This video demonstrates several different methods of treating a dislocated shoulder when you can't get to a hospital.  I believe what Claire used was the third method shown.



3) Sporrans come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. This is a Jacobite sporran, circa 1745, made of leather and brass. (Photos by houseoflabhran.com.)
Jamie picked up his sporran and began tucking in the loose bits of things that had come out when he pulled out the pearls. Finding a tangled length of fishing line, he upended the bag over the bed, dumping everything in a pile. He began to sort through it, painstakingly winding up the bits of line and string, finding loose fish hooks and firmly re-imbedding them in the piece of cork where they normally rested.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "Quarter Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


This is a badger-skin sporran, used by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment during the First World War. (I don't know about the rest of you, but I find the eyes rather disturbing!)

Here's an article about a 2009 law banning the use of sealskin sporrans in the European Union.  For more about sporrans, look here and here.

Leather Tawse

4) Remember Jamie telling Claire about his being beaten with a tawse when he was a schoolboy?
"I didna like being beaten at all, of course, but if I had a choice, I’d rather my Da than the schoolmaster. We’d mostly get it across the palm of the hand with a tawse, in the schoolhouse, instead of on the backside. Father said if he whipped me on the hand, I’d not be able to do any work, whereas if he whipped my arse, I’d at least not be tempted to sit down and be idle."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Reckonings". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Millport Primary School Tawse

The photos above show what a tawse looks like.  Top: tawse from the Seafield Residential School, Ardrossan, Scotland.  Bottom: late-19th century tawse used at Millport Primary School.  Both of these straps were donated to museums in Scotland. (Photo credits: North Ayrshire Council, on Flickr.)

The Lochgelly tawse was widely used in Scottish schools for about 100 years, until corporal punishment was banned in the 1980s.



5) I always have to smile at this bit from OUTLANDER, because Jamie's too happy (and too obviously in love <g>) to be self-conscious about his singing voice.
He patted one of my rounder bulges and left for the stables, singing rather loudly the air from “Up Among the Heather.” The refrain floated back from the stairwell:
“Sittin’ wi’ a wee girl, holdin’ on my knee--
When a bumblebee stung me, weel above the kneeeee--
Up among the heather, at the head o’ Bendikee!”
He was right, I decided; he didn’t have any ear for music.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "By the Pricking of My Thumbs". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you click on the video above, you'll hear an audio recording of the Irish Rovers performing "Up Among the Heather".  The lyrics to the Irish Rovers version are a little different from Jamie's, but it's recognizably the same song.

I hope you enjoyed this 10th installment of the Best of the Friday Fun Facts! Here are the previous collections:

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #1
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #2
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #3
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #4
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #5
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #6
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #7
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #8
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #9 

Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts.