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Starz Renews Entertaining Romantic Adventure 'Outlander' After Strong Debut (TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 15, 2014 at 3:36PM

Feeding the healthy appetite for women's fare, Starz is renewing for a second season romantic time travel adventure "Outlander," based on the bestsellers by Diana Gabaldon, which debuted well its first week with 5 million views and a No. 1 Nielsen Twitter Rating for its first day. It was helped by a boost from a one-week free posting on YouTube of the pilot episode that was sampled over 1 million times. Other advance signs of (largely female) viewer interest: plenty of fan fiction sites, Scotland tours, and a well-attended premiere and screening at Comic-Con.
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'Outlander'
'Outlander'

Feeding the healthy appetite for women's fare, Starz is renewing for a second season romantic time travel adventure "Outlander," based on the bestsellers by Diana Gabaldon, which debuted well its first week with 5 million views and a No. 1 Nielsen Twitter Rating for its first day. It was helped by a boost from a one-week free posting on YouTube of the pilot episode that was sampled over 1 million times. Other advance signs of (largely female) viewer interest: plenty of fan fiction sites, Scotland tours, and a well-attended premiere and screening at Comic-Con.

In the first episode, our narrator Claire, a smart and capable war-toughened English combat nurse (Irish actress Caitriona Balfe) recovering from the rigors of World War II in 1945, tries to reconnect with her battle weary husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) on a Scotland vacation. "There's no place on Earth with more magic and superstition mixed into its daily life than the Scottish Highlands," Frank tells Claire. Sure enough, on a visit to a set of Druid standing stones, she is whisked back in time to 1743, where she tends the wounds of Jamie Fraser (Scottish actor Sam Heughan), a protective well-muscled Scottish fighter, and tries to find a way to return to the present --as she falls in love in the past. "My husband is not alive," she admits to him, and herself.


Executive producer Ronald D. Moore ("Star Trek" and Battlestar "Gallactica") and Sony Pictures TV are delivering 16 episodes for Season 1 (six more than "Game of Thrones"), which is filmed on location in Scotland, and will commit to 13 more for Season 2, based on Gabaldon's second book in the series, "Dragonfly In Amber." In that installment, Claire goes to Paris, Jamaica and the New World. There are already eight installments with 26 million copies in print, so this series may stick around for a while. When “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” was published in June, it outsold the Hillary Rodham Clinton memoir, “Hard Choices,” and replaced Stephen King atop the bestseller list. 

Starz's marketing is clearly targeting "Game of Thrones" fans, who are both men and women. "Outlander" functions as an action-packed bodice-ripper along the lines of such historical fiction as "Last of the Mohicans" or "Robin Hood" or TV's "Mists of Avalon." So we'll soon see. 
 

This article is related to: Television, Television, Television, Starz, Outlander


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.