From Page to Screen: Outlander S1:E1, “Sassenach”

From Page to Screen: Outlander S1:E1, “Sassenach”

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that Outlander is finally on a screen. I’m even more excited that it is a scripted series. These books are just too rich for the silver screen. I haven’t done a From Page to Screen feature in a while, so Outlander came along at the perfect time. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you.

Normally, I break up From Page to Screen posts into “What I Loved” and “What I Didn’t Love” headings. I don’t think I’m going to do that this time. I think it works best for a self-contained movie and not an ongoing series.

My friend Laura gifted me the first Outlander book on my birthday in 2008. I had never heard of it before (gasp!) and she just knew I would love it. I don’t think she had any idea just how much I would love it. I’m so glad I haven’t had to wait as long as some women to see this series come to life. The book was published about 20 years ago. SO glad I didn’t have to wait that long.

This post is mostly spoiler free. I’ll warn you in advance if I get a little spoiler-ish.

My Thoughts on Outlander S1:E1, “Sassenach”

I’m in love. Ron Moore and Starz have done a fantastic job adapting the book. The characters look the way they should. The scenery looks the way it should. And, more importantly, the feeling is right. What do I mean by that? Well, you know how books make you feel a certain way? That’s what I’m talking about. I got the same feeling watching Outlander that I got reading Outlander. That, my friends, is pure magic. I’m sold. They can go ahead and order the next season.

Also, let me just say god bless premium cable channels. I don’t think Outlander would have been as successful on a regular cable channel (or even network TV). Why? The sex. It’s a totally necessary part of the books. I think Moore managed to hit the right balance of sex and narrative. It wasn’t raunchy like the stuff on Cinemax. It was tastefully done and, more importantly, shows the emotional depth of the characters. Let’s face it, Claire is a strong woman who loves sex. There is nothing wrong with that and I’m glad the series takes that seriously.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was just how much I liked Frank. Tobias Menzies does a fabulous job. When Claire goes missing in the books, I never really gave Frank another thought. “Sassenach” made me think about how he must have felt when she disappeared. Don’t misunderstand me, this is purely a thought exercise on my part. They don’t address it at all in this episode, nor should they. It’s just that seeing Frank and Claire rekindle their romance made me feel sympathy for him in a way that I never did when I read the book.

Diana Gabaldon mentioned on her Facebook page that the first 20-30 minutes of “Sassenach” weren’t in the book. I think it upset a lot of people prematurely. Those 20-30 minutes were done so well that they could have easily been in the book to begin with, which is the mark of a great adaptation in my opinion. Little changes are so seamless and fit so well that they don’t really stand out at all. Of course, the militant “I need my adaptations to be 100% like the book, no exceptions” crowd will probably feel differently. For me, I just want changes or additions to feel natural. As long as they feel like they *could* have been in the book, I’m good.

All in all, I think the characters, setting, and feeling are authentic. I was giddy for hours after watching “Sassenach.” This Outlander fangirl is thoroughly pleased. I talked my husband into watching the series with me. Even he liked it. That made me even happier.

© 2014, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.