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.
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.
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.