Ron Moore‘s had a tough few years creatively. His The Thing prequel script was almost completely rewritten, the promising sounding 17th Precinct never made it past pilot and Virtuality, despite having a great premise and a better cast, was essentially doomed the moment the network noticed there were gay people in it. It’s a real shame too, as Moore has a work ethic and approach that, when he’s given the room to use it, can turn into really interesting things.
That’s why I’m so pleased that his luck’s starting to change. We’ve already talked about Helix, the Arctic science horror show he’s producing, getting a full-season order from SyFy, Starz are following suit with Outlander*.Deadline are reporting that the show has been given 16-episode season order and production is set to start in Scotland in October this year. They describe the show, based on Diana Gabaldon‘s millions-selling series of novels, like this;
It follows Claire, a married WWII combat nurse, who mistakenly steps back in time to year 1743 where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world of adventure that sends her on the run and threatens her life. When Claire is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, it ignites a passionate affair that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
It’s a fun premise which reminds me of nothing more than Goodnight, Sweetheart, an amazingly odd BBC sitcom about a man who finds a time portal back to World War II and ends up with two lives, one now, one then. By the sounds of things the cheerful British amorality that Goodnight, Sweetheart occasionally toyed with is going to be replaced by sex, fish out of water comedy and sword-clanging clan drama. This being Starz, I suspect we’ll get more of the first and last than the second thing in that list, and I’m okay with that. Starz have found an angle that works for them and Outlander looks to replace the blood, sweat and sandals of Spartacus with blood, sweat and heavy accents.
What’s really got me interested though is the Writer’s Room Moore’s put together. Ira Steven Behr is a fellow Deep Space Nine alumni who did consistently interesting and frequently brilliant work on The 4400 and Alphas too. Toni Graphia also has a history with Moore, working on Roswell, Carnivale and Battlestar Galactica before logging work on Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Alcatraz and Grey’s Anatomy which, given the romance component of Outlander may prove to be the most useful qualification on that list. Matt Roberts is best known for Caprica which was as frequently brilliant, and as frequently flawed, as Galactica itself and Anne Kenney is an LA Law veteran who’s most recent work includes runs on Greek and Hellcats.
That’s an interesting bunch, no one new to the game and all equally split between the genre fiction and Doctor Sexy MD sides of the pool. The show’s certainly got a strong writing team, now it just needs the cast to back that up. Plummy-voice British actresses and burly Scots actors? The time for those new headshots is now.
*Not in fact, this version of Outlander, the best, and possibly only, example of the ‘Alien meets Vikings, provides inspiration for Beowulf’ sub-genre I’ve ever seen.