Unicorn poop, Poutlanders , Sheeplanders and Outlander on Starz

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I woke this morning to a post from Diana.  I’m always interested in what she has to say. After all, she wrote my favorite book series and I admire her writing.  And….bonus…she’s usually pretty funny.  Here’s what I heard her say today:

Writers have time and space to do what they wish.  TV writers and producers do not.

What works on the page does not necessarily work on the screen.

Some scenes in a book, although great to read, may not be needed to advance a story.

Sometimes additions for a visual medium may enhance a story.  We can see things from different points of view.

I think that about sums it up.  Now…here is what people heard ( according to the comments)

 ” I think the haters have been schooled “

” …no matter what “they” say “

” …put everyone in their places “

” Saddened you must make justification “

” haters and nitpickers “

” now everyone just leave her alone “

” if you don’t like it don’t watch and shut-up “

Of course these are just a few of the lovely tolerant responses. (yes, I’m being sarcastic)

I’m not blaming DG.  She has every right to share her perspective and opinions.  And, I love that she does. I believe her motivation was to speak reason.  What I’m not sure she fully appreciates is the power her words wield in the fan-dom. When she speaks it becomes gospel. It is as if word has come down from on high. Despite what she intended, it’s obvious that her words will be used as a justification to destroy free-thinking.  The response to her post leads me to believe that her words are being interpreted as a “set down”.  I’m seeing a shift from, “isn’t it wonderful how we are able to share our ideas” to “It’s us against them”.

You’ve all heard the term “Poutlander”.  Definition: Poutlander; noun, a fan of the Outlander series of books who is still complaining about who was cast for the TV series a year after production has commenced and still doesn’t think Claire’s rump is round enough or Jamie’s hair is red.

How about this term you may not have heard, “Sheeplander”?   Defintion: Sheeplander; noun, a fan of the Outlander series of books who refuses to accept that the Outlander TV series may not be perfect and feels the need to start every sentence with ” The show is different from the book”.  It is rumored that they may believe that Diana and Ron actually poop rainbows. All those who dare vocalize a concern are deemed disloyal haters or nitpickers who need to die! (ok, maybe not die, but they sure want them to shut up).

I wouldn’t feel good about being lumped into either one of these groups.

I’m sure Ms. Gabaldon was trying to help the situation.  I believe that she was trying to clarify and explain what happens in an adaptation.  I’m sure she is baffled by what she perceives as a stubborn refusal by some to let go of small details and changes.  But…no good deed/idea goes unpunished.  Diana’s choosing to make her “opinion” of the TV series know is tantamount to Lincoln saying all men are created equal.  How do you argue with what the author thinks?!  “Well, Diana says….”  will become the battle cry of all those who want to put dissenters in “their place”.  Discourse about the show will be reduced to re-caps with cute quips, pictures of the actors’ various facial expressions and pictures of Sam’s butt. ( not that I don’t enjoy laughing or looking)   And of course….praise for the genius of all involved.

I discussed my fear that an intelligent discussion of the shows’ merits and failings was being threatened. A friend and fellow fan, who happens to be very asute at cutting through bullshite and seeing situations clearly, told me it was going to get more and more difficult to say you didn’t like something about the show.  Clearly more cynical than myself, she believes that there is too much on the line for anyone in the fan-dom to express disatisfaction without impunity. She believes that unless you are getting paid to be a critic anyone who doesn’t “love” every thing and everyone involved will be ostrasized.  I don’t want to believe that is true.  I kinda of hoped that the fact people cared enough to discuss the show was reason enough to believe the show was worth watching.  “You know…Outlander…that show everyone is talking about.”  But, instead this atmosphere of intolerance of others ideas and feelings is starting to remind me of something…blind loyalty…mindless fanaticism…..hmmmmm.  Anybody remember some really bad movies about a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend?  Shiver  

So…here’s my early Christmas list.  Tolerance. Manners. Open-minds.

And a pile of rainbow poop cuz I’d really like to see some.
Word count: 444   Last e

Watching Outlander….my way.

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imageSo….the smallest blog post I’ve ever written about the Outlander book and tv series has resulted in a lot of discussion and …some shite.  I feel kinda bad about that, but evidently there were a lot of people in the fandom that were feeling the same as me…they were just afraid to say so.

And rightfully so. There seems to be a double standard.  It is okay to discuss the books, pull them a part and speculate, but not the show. Anyone who didn’t actually like something about an episode is risking being villified if they dare express their dissatisfaction.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I need to clarify. I have little patience for those folks who are still stuck on Jamie’s hair color, Claire’s height, etc…I will not tolerate personal attacks on the cast, producers, writers, etc.. (I actually had someone complain on my blog about the shape of Cait’s breasts…I was outraged).  What I’m talking about is conversations that people would naturally have over a beloved book turned into a movie/tvshow: character depiction, plot development, dialogue.  I believe these are reasonable and expected topics for discussion.

Once again putting myself at risk, I believe that anyone in disagreement or dissatisfied with a part of the series is being labeled as disloyal or …Gasp…ungrateful. I’m extremely grateful! I love the show, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to like everything. And it also doesn’t mean I’m going to keep quiet or not watch as some folks have suggested.  One of the things I find most ironic and kinda of funny about this whole thing is what usually happens when I dare to speak “blasphemy”. What usually happens is that I get a lot of respectful responses that challenge my thinking and as a result, I often gain some new perspective! I can assure you that doesn’t happen when people tell me to quit being negative. And, if you have read my blog before you know I’ve written way more blogs praising the show than criticizing it!

So….this leads me to my inspiration for writing today.  I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern in people’s responses.  People keep pointing out that the books and the show are entirely separate. In fact, they say they are separate entities!  They then go on to prove their point about character or plot development by “QUOTING THE BOOK”.  You can’t have it both ways people! If it is, in fact, a show based on a book then it is natural to make comparisons.  I believe the unrealistic expectation here is the belief that the show IS the book or ….should be.

We have been lead to believe that the producers and writers  are fans of the book and that they want to do the book honor. They have assured us that despite making changes to our beloved story for the needs of visual media, they fully intend to tell the story of our Claire and her Jamie. They will have to sometimes change timelines, plot elements, scenes and dialogue, but have promised to bring everything back around to get the story where it needs to go. Admittedly some of us are a little worried about that.  Diana has tried to allay some of our fears by reminding us these are very talented people at the helm. She admonished us to not “catastroph-ize”  the future of the show based on what we’ve seen. She doesn’t see any basis/proof for not believing the story will be told in a way that will satisfy. With all due respect to Herself…I might feel more confident if I’d had access to the scripts and film!  But, she said it, so I’ll believe it and bide my time.  Which I think she finds pretty amusing.  She noted we’re complaining, but we can’t wait for April 4th <g> !  I remember Ron telling a similar little story about his fans writing to tell him that they hated an episode and hated it every time they watched it….again.  Funny lot us fans.

I’ve admitted several times that it is difficult for me to just let go and watch the film for its own self…an adaptation.  Herself said if you can’t you’ll ruin the experience for yourself.  She is probably right because I find myself jealous of newbies and people who have never read the books.  While strolling through Compuserve today (I said strolling not trolling) , I happened upon a similar conversation between the “I love everythings” and the “gotta few worries”.   One particular response caught my eye.  The writer had come to the conclusion that she was never going to be happy with the show.  She just couldn’t be because she had too many expectations that were never going to be met.  So…she let it go. She no longer scans the internet for news or counts the days till the next episode. In fact, I’m pretty sure she said she stopped watching.  She made a point to say she would probably finish watching out of curiosity, but probably wait until the season was over so she could watch it all at once. Because…it wasn’t her book it was just another tv show.  For her they ARE two separate entities. For the rest of us, I would guess we are somewhere in between. We are watching because of the book and our chance to see our favorite characters and story come to life.

Maybe the show isn’t turning out exactly as I hoped sometimes because Diana isn’t telling the story.  Ron, the experienced visual story teller, is telling the story.  My Claire and Jamie and Black Jack and Frank are walking around in the flesh!  We’ve waited forever for this!  So, if you all don’t mind, I’ll keep watching and maybe I’ll express some disappointment from time to time.  And, if Ron and crew pull this off, I’ll write the biggest apology note I can muster for ever doubting their genius!   Will it all work out? “It would be pretty to think so”.

Frank and Claire, soul mates …..Episode 8

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imageI couldn’t watch it through a second time.  I shut it off. I thought perhaps sleep would help my perspective. It has cooled my ire enough to write. I really wasn’t sure I would write anything about this episode because I felt too conflicted, too….angry.

First, let me say that if I DIDN’T know the rest of the story,  I’d think this was a great episode.  Lots of action and conflict for our Heroine Claire. Beautifully acted. Beautifully filmed. But, I do know the rest of the story. And this isn’t taking me there.

So, what is the big problem…Jamie…again.  Who is supposed to be Claire’s soul-mate?  Jamie or Frank? I understand Ron Moore wanted Claire’s decision to feel real, so he decided to put more about Frank into the story.  I was all for that decision, until now.  Once again I ask, “where’s Jamie?”.

In my humble opinion, as a reader and viewer, Both Sides Now should have been One Fine Day. I understand this is an adaptation and I know things must be changed and somethings left out.  However, I’m pretty sure what should not be left out is the growth in Jamie and Claire’s relationship.  Of all the wonderful tender and revealing moments that happened  the couple of days following the wedding we get “hoor-rocks”? I understand that it advanced the story…Jamie needed to leave Claire for the chance to change their future.  I get that….great.  But, why so much Frank and so little Jamie and Claire?  One of reasons I was so excited that this was a 16 episode series was that their would be time as Mr. Moore said to keep,” all the things people love about these books”.  The main thing I love about these books is the relationship between Jamie and Claire.

And my favorite lines….. “Does the wanting ever stop” was changed from awed and tender wonder to when will I stop being horny? Arrgh! Maybe my love for the books has made it impossible for me to enjoy this show?  As my husband was kind enough to point out this morning, ” You knew this was going to happen why are you surprised? The movie can never be as good as the book”…… Yeah….I know that….

What they do for love……the different faces of passion in Outlander.

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It is said that love makes the world go round.  It seems to me that everyone involved in the Outlander phenomenon from cast to crew to producers and from characters to author to fans are motivated by this sentiment.  I read a recent interview with Terry Dresbach Outlander Costume Designer and wife of Outlander Executive Producer Ron Moore, in which she discusses the fact that she has some influence on her husband’s decisions in regards to the show.  What follows is a pretty amusing, but comfortingly familiar domestic scene.  They are in bed arguing into the wee hours of the night about how best to tell the story of Claire and Jamie! Pretty sure I’ve had the same experience, maybe not about Outlander, but the scene she painted felt very real to me and very telling of their relationship and shared passion for what they do. They are motivated by love and respect for each other’s talents and opinions.

The cast appears to be motivated by a passion for the craft of acting. They love what they do as evidenced by the sacrifices and discomforts they are willing to suffer to bring Outlander’s characters to life.  Hours in the make-up chair to make scars look real, filming for hours in a shift in the bitter cold and at least a week of rehearsing sex scenes with an extremely good-looking co-star <g> are just a few examples of what these actors have to endure for love.

Seeing the relationship blossoming. between our two main characters has been wonderful, but today I find myself thinking of the others.  I’ve been thinking about Murtaugh, Gellis, the MacKenzie brothers, Father Bain, Loaghaire and Black Jack.  I’ve been thinking about what they all have in common.  They are all motivated by the same thing….love.  Now, what they love varies significantly, as does how they react to their desires, but love it is!  The song lyrics, “what I’d do for love” keep running through my head. Definite ear worm.

So, what is it they “do” for love:

The MacKenzie brothers:

The brothers share a love, they love the clan MacKenzie.  What they’ll do to protect the clan, and their place in it,  falls nothing short of murder.  Ron Moore and his crew are doing a great job of developing this part of the story-line. Claire wouldn’t be let go until the brothers could be sure she was no threat and if they could make use of her healing skills along the way, so be it.  Lucky, for them Claire is a healer and a kind person.  If I was being held prisoner I’m not sure I’d be as generous with my skills. But, …then Colum did almost knife a tailor and Dougal promised to slit her throat….so maybe I wouldn’t poison anybody either.  She didn’t score any points with the Hamish thing either.  The viewer KNOWS something’s up with that!  Thanks to the awkward silence and significant looks between everyone in the hall!  And, Jamie? That boy better watch his back! Even my Dear  husband, a devout non-reader, could pick up on the strain between those three.  The marriage may keep Claire safe from Black Jack Randall, but Dougal and Colum?  What will the brothers do for love? Anything they need to!

Murtaugh:

The viewer really doesn’t know much about Murtaugh except that he’s on Jamie’s side.  What the reader knows is that Murtaugh is motivated by love too.  Murtaugh loved Ellen, Jamie’s mother.  That love of course was unrequited because Ellen loved Brian, Jamie’s father.  Instead of feeling bitter, Murtaugh chose to continue to love Ellen and serve her the only way he could and that was by loving and protecting her child.  I’m not sure Jamie even knows, but eventually Claire figures it out.  What will Murtaugh do for love? Serve.

Loghaire:

Currently, what the viewer sees is a pretty young girl with a crush throwing herself at a man’s head.  Not unusual or terribly threatening. Or, is it? (Said in an ominous tone, with accompaniment of way foreshadowy music) Be leery of Loaghaire she’s green with envy. What will “Leery” do for love? Hmmmm, for Jamie? I know whàt I’d do (wink wink).

Gellis:

This is a tough one to talk about without giving away a major story point.  Suffice it to say that “the witch” has a lot of secrets and a love she is willing to sacrifice a normal life to obtain.  Complicated and convoluted is our Gellis.  I believe she said her husband had, “no notion of guile”.  Well, she sure does. In fact, she could probably teach a master’s level course, Gellis’ Guide to Mastering Guile. What would she do for love? More than you can imagine. Girls a freak!

Father Bain:

I’ve heard stories from friends who were Catholic school children that make me believe that Father Bain’s zeal is not unusual.  My friends may not have had an ear nailed to a pillory in an effort to save their souls, but they have nursed a few ruler rapped and bleeding knuckles.  Father Bain’s love for God is very real which makes him all the more frightening and threatening. His extremely legalistic faith stresses the idea that nothing is more important than loving people enough to save their souls.  And, if that means chopping off a hand or two so be it!  Father Bain’s love compels him to destroy any perceived threat to his parish.

Black Jack Randall:

It is difficult to imagine that BJR is motivated by love.  I don’t think we can easily place our selves in his mind set.  Finding beauty in Jamie’s mutilated back doesn’t make sense to us and signals that Jack may have crossed a line from which there is no return.  People make sense of their experiences as best they can.  Jack copes with his disappointing life by choosing to embrace anarchy.  His version of love is a black twisted mutilated thing.  He now lives and loves to hate the “very world itself”.

If Outlander is the example, then it appears that love is all that really matters. If that is the case, then I am rich because my life is full of things to love…including Outlander.

She committed Bigamy and Adultery and enjoyed it….Ep. 7 Outlander

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I have decided that it takes me three viewings before I can truly enjoy an episode of Outlander. I find that the first time I watch I’m waiting for particular dialogue and scenes from the book. After this first viewing,  I am usually left with a vague feeling of disappointment because it isn’t the book, even though I  KNOW it is an adaptation. The second time I watch the same episode, I find myself watching with a critics’s eye looking for what’s been added or how things are different. The third time, I just watch and enjoy the show for what it is. Despite missing some desired dialogue and humor from the book, I thought all the crucial elements were there.  It was tender and sexy. The dress, the regalia, the vows, the consummation, the highlander’s chaf, the pearls and the lovemaking were perfect.  And….her confusion…as an audience, we could feel another layer being added to Claire’s already difficult problems.  I certainly felt that Claire was on the precipice of falling into life altering action.

One of things I most admire about Claire is her inability to lie to herself.  Despite knowing that she was _forced_ to commit bigamy and adultery, she refuses to give herself an excuse or to be in denial.  She owns her feelings. She may not like what she is feeling, but she allows herself to feel it anyway.  “Well, that’s it then, I’ve committed bigamy, and adultery and I enjoyed it “, our Claire thinks. Thanks to Outlander Starz and Caitriona Balfe’s performance, I too felt Claire’s trepitation, confusion and enjoyment.

We start the episode with a reminder that Claire is already married and we are introduced to her fear that time and circumstance are eroding her memories and interfering with her ability to withstand change.  Valuable pearls that fall off a string and roll away to dark corners to be forgotten is a powerful metaphor for what she fears is her vulnerability and reality.  She is afraid her reality is living in 1743 and the dream…1945.

I have to admit the lack of a chronological order was a bit disconcerting.  However, I pretty quickly got over the change  and found it to be an effective way to tell this story. There was a lot of story to tell in one hour AND bring to life sex-scenes fans have only been able to dream about. The flashbacks broke-up what would have been a lot of talk, talk, talk.  It also allowed their intimate relations to progress in three obvious phases, consummation, exploration, and  love-making. It worked.

In a recent interview, Sam Heughan expressed his surprise at the little details the fans notice.  He remarked that in the stable scene, during Claire’s escape attempt, he touched the back of his head.  He explained this was part of his technique of immersing himself in the character.  As he said his lines he was thinking of Jamie and Dougal’s back story.  Fans noticed and remarked on the significance of his small action.  Love his technique and the fact that this episode was full of small significant guestures, expressions and actions. In fact, way too many to list!  But, there were a few that are very much worth discussion. Let’s start with Claire’s glass face.

For most of the first six episodes, Claire has been forced to lie to protect herself.  For the most part, she has been pretty good at it (she really struggles to not show her disdain or frustration for what she perceives as ignorant or unjust behavior). Folks suspect there is something she’s not telling them.  However, even after constantly being confronted with their speculations, Claire has managed to keep her identity and body safe. In this episode, everything is showing on Claire’s expressive face and I love it.  Her anxiety, fear, vulnerability, confusion, resignation and desire are there for the world to see. As a result, we feel for her and with her.  As I predicted, Claire is a woman the viewer has grown to care about. Jamie wants to keep her safe and so do we.

The extras. The ancillary characters have added so much to the telling of this story. The little vignettes of the highlanders fulfilling Jamie’s wedding conditions were priceless. Ned and the “hoors”, Rupert and Angus and the wedding ring, and the “Scripture Showdown” were endearing and entertaining.  They also helped advance the story-line that Claire is becoming an accepted and valued member of the clan.

There was symbolism. In addition to the pearls, I felt there were interesting symbolic moments.  Even though he wasn’t discussed, Frank was like the shadow you thought you saw out of the corner of your eye. Like the ring tucked away, forgotten and almost lost. It was an interesting twist  to have Claire and Frank also marry quickly, but not in a church.  I _think_ they are trying to make a point with Jamie’s insistence on “properly” wedding… not sure yet. I guess I’ll wait and see how that plays out.  And, Claire staring at hands with two weddings bands. But, my favorite symbolic moment was Claire wrapping the two of them together in Jamie’s plaid as they “rode”. It harkened back to that first dark rainy night they rode together wrapped in Jamie’s plaid.

And, the moments that made you awwww and ohhhhh.  Murtagh speaking of Jamie’s mother. I want to reach through the screen and give the man a hug.  Jamie stating that he’ll only marry once. The big reveal of the dress and Jamie in his Fraser plaid telling Claire his full name.  The blood vow. The first kiss. My brown hair lass.  So, many moments to move the heart.

I was worried that seeing Jamie and Claire, “people” I know, having sex would feel a little weird, a bit voyeuristic. But, although it was exciting to see our couple consummate their vows it was done tastefully and beautifully.  I laughed and cried and sighed. It was sexy, but moving. Bravo.

Finally, Jamie was charming, kind, earnest, sexy and honorable. Hard  combination to resist.  Damn. I think our girl is in danger again…of falling in love.

 

 

Dear Outlander fan …I’ve been invited to a wedding!

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Dear Outlander fan,

I got an invitation to a wedding yesterday.  One James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser will be marrying Claire Beauchamp. It’s this Saturday at 9 o’clock! I’m so happy I got invited. Thanks to Starz hosting this event, I’m sure it’ll be just wonderful!

I know who the dress designer is and she does beautiful work! So, I’m expecting to be dazzled by the wedding dress. And, the groom is a very resourceful Scot, so I’m sure he’ll come up with something to wear that will impress his bride!

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds because rumor has it that the bride is a bit reluctant.  I also heard she’s a bit of a tippler. She likes a dram or two of Scotch and has been know to drink upwards of three glasses of Rhenish!  I know! Shocking! I wonder if she’ll be sober walking down the aisle? Mmmmph. Sorry, I shouldn’t be gossiping, the poor girl is in a bit of a fix with Black Jack Randall. The lass doesn’t really have a choice, so I shouldn’t judge.

It looks like Dougal McKenzie will be giving the bride away.  Claire, the poor lamb, is a widow and doesn’t have any family near, so he’s standing up for her. Which is kind of odd because I kind of thought he was interested in Claire. Hmmmm, oh well, Jamie is a nice lad. Although, I hear he has a price on his head…for murder no less.  Wonder if they’ll be staying at Leoch? I think it’s the only safe place for them really. I’m sure Claire’s healing skills will be welcomed and Mrs. Fitz sure is fond of her even if she is a Sassenach.

Speaking of Leoch, I wonder what that bonny little blond lass, Laoghaire will think of Jamie marrying Claire?  She seemed to  be looking at the lad out the side of her big baby blues every time I saw her. I thought for sure after he took that beating for her that he liked her too! And…I could have sworn I saw them in an alcove together.  Well… anyway…Claire better watch her back nothing like the wrath of a woman scorned, especially when she’s a teen living under the same roof!

Enough with the speculating, I’m sure everything will work out fine as long as they stay out of Black Jack’s reach. I’m looking forward to the reception. Dougal’s arranged for a nice little spread back at the Inn. And….you know they are worried about this marriage being legal, so we’ve been asked to hang around as witnesses to the consummation.  You know normal 18th century wedding customs and all.

Well, gotta go. I’m shopping for a new Claire cowl on Etsy and some waulked wool for a wedding gift. Hope I see you there!

Yours truly,

An Outlander fan who has been waiting a VERRA long time for this day!  Bottoms up! Slainte!