Like many Outlander superfan(atics), I was a teeny bit worried when I first heard the book was being made into a TV series. My fears were mostly that the powers that be might turn it into the Heaving Bosom/Pelvic Thrusting Extravaganza seen in most American made TV shows and movies while leaving out the essence of the story.
Let’s face it boys and girls, most movies are filmed from the man’s point of view. Whether it’s sex, family, business or the world, it usually comes from the male’s perspective. Exhibit A. Love/Sex Scene #1….Action! Woman with perfectly formed, giant orbs of goodness, concave stomach, glistening mouth, wild hair, no cellulite (basically my looks, 30 years ago) gleefully gyrates around bedroom, performing endlessly choreographed circus tricks while wearing a slightly nauseated expression, bosom’s heaving in time to an invisible drum. Cut and Print! And, P.S. she’s usually 15+ years younger than the man she’s performing for and her character has little back story or purpose other than to support the male lead as his wife or mother of his children.
So imagine my delight when the first episodes of Outlander began to air and the gorgeous Caitriona Balfe appeared on screen, not like the Victoria’s Secret glamazon she is, but with a very realistic portrayal of a real woman who finds herself in an unreal situation. Claire Randall Fraser is strong, she is mouthy/pushy/intimidating/caring/loving/passionate, compassionate and a healer, but most of all she is her own woman and bless those in charge, they actually got it right. They wrote, produced and directed it the right way and let Caitriona Balfe deliver the goods. (Personal note: I still have no idea how she works non-stop, perhaps this is a ‘Bionic Woman Situation’, but that’s for scientists to discover and me to report on in a later blog.)
So, when this year’s Women’s Image Award nominees were released and FOUR women working on the Outlander series were nominated, there was much jumping for joy in my Twitterverse world. Among the Outstanding Outlander Women nominated are Anne Kenney, Anna Foerster, Toni Graphia and the one and only Caitriona Balfe.
I began to wonder how it came to be that so many intelligent, skilled women could be affiliated with one show so I began poking around and the answer I came up with was Ron D. Moore. Ron has shown us that he is unafraid of strong, intelligent women by repeatedly hiring, casting and working with them. When you have women in these positions, the perspective changes, it has to, because we come from a different place than men. Not better or worse, just different. So I applaud Ron D. Moore for doing what most men in power don’t do and that’s hire qualified women. Until more men give qualified women the opportunity to show what they can do, nothing will change and careers will not progress. And for that matter, other women in power need to do the same as sometimes we are our own worst enemies. So thank you Ron we appreciate your intelligence and applaud your strong, forward-thinking attitude.
By the way, in the future I would suggest that other men in the business begin doing the same. What’s the worst that could happen? You could wind up with a hit show that millions of people watch and live a rich and fulfilling life.
Note: Not nominated but still greatly appreciated and respected is Maril Davis, Executive Producer and Ron’s Producing Partner of many years.
17th Annual Women’s Image Award,
Anna Foerster, Director, ‘The Wedding’
Anne Kenney, Writer, ‘The Wedding’
Toni Graphia, Writer, ‘The Devil’s Mark’
Caitriona Balfe, Actress, ‘The Garrison Commander’
Outlander, Best Drama Series
Sending special Birthday Wishes to Caitriona Balfe, nobody could’ve been a better Claire! Song sung by Little ‘Ol Me!
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is bursting with rich characters. We know and love these folks as if they were our real-life friends and many of us wondered how this would translate to the screen. Would they be able to find just the right actors to play the characters we know and love? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for the Outlander Casting Swamis who found Jamie, Claire, Frank, etc. But these Swamis weren’t satisfied to perform miracles when finding the main characters. Oh no. They took it a step further and found absolute perfection in the minor ones too. Some of these actors and actresses were on the screen for less than five minutes, but their performances were so real, they left an everlasting impression on us. Here are some of my favorites:
Mrs. Graham is the Rev. Wakefield’s housekeeper. She cleans his gargantuan home, cooks his meals and raises his foster son, wee Roger Wakefield (more about him later). She does all this while wearing lovely dresses and sensible brown brogues. She’s a druid/witch and has a pretty good idea what’s going on with Claire and if anyone would bother to take her seriously, the entire mystery could’ve been solved in under 15 minutes. Luckily, nobody did or we wouldn’t have this story. I love Mrs. Graham, she’s a good witch, very skilled at her job and everything about her screams ‘COZY’ from her teapots to her soft sweaters to her cookie baking with wee Roger on the Aga.
Mrs. Fitz runs Castle Leoch for Colum MacKenzie. She’s on her feet over 12 hours a day keeping the maids and cooks on task, shooing Rupert and Angus out of the kitchen and taking stray sassenachs under her wing. She does all this while wearing the same constrictive undergarments as Claire which inhibit her from taking a deep breath from sun-up to sundown. She’s also a great cook, a loving friend and a closet feminist who’s not afraid to take a stand. Back off Father Bain!
Hugh Munro is mentioned several times in the books, things don’t always go very well for him, but in his one brief scene in Season One, he made a strong impression on us. He can’t speak due to a run-in with ‘the Turks’, but he’s still able to communicate and be a loyal friend to Jamie and also bring a thoughtful wedding gift to Claire from her Target Gift Registry. #DragonflyInAmber
The Lady In A Loveless Marriage
Claire and Murtagh roam the countryside searching high and low for their beloved Jamie. Murtagh dances, Claire sings (a song that was stuck in my head for weeks–thanks for that Caitriona Balfe!) and demonstrates lousy fortune telling skills. She even gets this poor lady’s hopes up that she has a chance at some first-class JAMMF love. Oh sweet lady, only Claire will experience epic JAMMF action, but in a different time and place, there’s a good chance a certain Texas crooner might be your boo.
The Wee Toddlers:
Wee Roger Wakefield
Roger Wakefield is being raised by the Reverend Wakefield (and Mrs. Graham) due to his parent’s ‘death’ in WWII. Book readers know he will grow up to become a tall, dark and dishy dreamboat who will play a very important part in the lives of the Frasers’. When we first meet him, he’s an adorable lad, wearing a teeny, tiny tweed suit with short pants asking for ‘another biscuit please.’
Wee Jamie is the son of Jenny Fraser Murray and Ian Murray and is Jamie Fraser’s name sake. His clothing is also miniature and adorable and when he giggled and splashed Claire, I’m pretty sure my breasts turned to the auto-lactate zone due to the overwhelming cuteness overload and sudden urge to procreate.
The Real Housewives of Leochville
The Real Housewives of Leochville live very exhausting lives, yet they’re able to make ‘a day of it’ pissing in a bucket and rubbing it over the wool all the while sneaking hooch and raising their voices in song. Their faces show they’ve been through a lot, yet they seemed much happier than their pampered 21st century counterparts. #WantToHangOutWithThem
The Gypsy Who Stole The Song
The Gypsy was in one episode and only a couple of scenes, yet he managed to grab our attention and make it seem like he could be a real threat to reuniting Jamie and Claire. He also reminded me of Johnny Depp in Chocolat which is always a good thing.
Horrocks was a very minor character in the books, yet by expanding his role and casting a delectable bad boy to play him, he made us fall slightly in lust with him in one episode and want to murder him in the next. #WeAllLoveBadBoys
The Duke of Sandringham
The Duke of Sandringham is not a nice man, but the way he’s portrayed, we just don’t seem to care that he lets Black Jack roam the countryside raping, pillaging and plundering. He has a major thang for JAMFF and even that doesn’t seem to bother us cuz we do too. I can’t wait to see what the Powers that Be have in store for the Duke when next we meet.
Last but not least, we have Ned Gowan. The books describe him as a wizened old man, but for many of us, he’s our bespectacled book boyfriend. Ned was just another hard-working lawyer bored out of his mind on Wall Street, so, as one does, he ran away to join the MacKenzie Circus and who could blame him. For some people, sitting in an office can be mega-boring. For Ned, it was unthinkable. He’s a poet, a business man and a true and loyal friend to Claire…what more could we want?
These are a just a few of my favorite minor characters who had a major effect on me. Who were your favorites? Let me know in the comments. Also, for more of your favorites, stay tuned for my upcoming blog… I’m Madly Missing the MacKenzies!
In honor of her Golden Globe nomination, I’m re-sharing my personal ‘Love Letter’ to Caitriona Balfe which I wrote last year. We’re so lucky to have this gracious, kind and classy woman as our Claire and my fingers and toes are crossed for her tonight. Huge best wishes to you tonight Sweet Lady!!!
As far back as I can remember, I was not the kind of person who was a ‘fan-girl’ of any specific actor or actress. There were singers whose voices I loved like Kristin Chenoweth and actresses in parts that I admired like Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver, but that’s as far as I went…until now. But, right here, right now, I’m outing myself. I’m a real-live, fan-girl and from now on, it’s all about ‘The Balfe.’ Yes, I’ve decided to try to make ‘The Balfe’ a thing. I’m pretty sure I won’t be successful, but like Cher, Madonna and Beckham, I think she deserves to be a ‘one-namer’.
There’s SO much to admire and fan-girl about, that I’m not even sure where to begin. But let’s plunge in, shall we? Here are the top 8 times, I loved ‘The Balfe’:
1) When ‘The Balfe’ was announced as the actress who would play Claire Fraser and the photo appeared with her wearing the plaid dress with her hair in the soft 1940’s ‘do’ with her face almost free of make-up, I jumped out of my chair shouting ‘it’s her, it’s her’! I’d only waited 20 years to see Claire and suddenly there she was in living color, exactly as I pictured her.
2) This purple dress. How many actresses in her position would have shown up to a Red Carpet Event wearing a sheer dress and hooker shoes? I’m guessing the majority of them. But not ‘The Balfe.’ She wore THIS gorgeous purple dress to the mid-season Outlander premiere in New York and blew us all away. This look is reminiscent of glamorous 1940’s dames like Greer Garson and Myrna Loy and, man oh man, she pulled it off.
3) ‘The Balfe’ is gracious and kind, and always remains above the fray. I’ve recently become aware of some truly cuckoo-bird shenanigans in the fandom, yet she is able to dip her toe in just far enough that we know she’s around, but not so far, that she gets bit. We could all learn how to interact with crazies in our every day life from watching her. (Pictured below is my favorite fictional crazy woman of all time, Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched!)
4) Her sense of humor. All you need to do is watch an interview with her Outlander co-stars, (you remember the hunky guy in the kilt and the English dude?) or out-takes where she gets the giggles and see that ‘The Balfe’ is someone who likes to keep on the sunny side of life. Cuz let’s face it, life is too short, and we need to laugh more. I for one, will take my cue from her and laugh when and as often as I can!
6) I have confessed more than once to loving animals almost as much (or more) than I love actual human beings. Anyone who follows The Balfe on Twitter knows she loves her cat, Eddie, and has posted multiple photos of her. She is well on her way to #FutureCatLadyStatus and that makes me love her most of all. I’d be willing to bet she even has an over-sized, t-shirt with Eddie’s photo on it that she schleps around her house in on her days off. If any of you know for a fact this isn’t true, please don’t tell me. I want to live happily in my little dream world cuz I like it here. 🙂
7) Her tenacity. Her work ethic. Her, dare we say it….pluck. We’ve heard many times from the cast and even Show Runner, Ron Moore and Costume Designer, Terry Dresbach that ‘The Balfe’ spent weeks running around the freezing cold Highlands in a thin white dress, never once uttering a word of complaint while the men were wrapped in wool and the crew wore their parkas. Well done Ms. Balfe!
8) Last, but definitely, not least. The woman can act. She’s proven time and time again that she’s got The Chops. And l’m very grateful to the Outlander Casting swami/gurus who found her, plucked her up from amongst the gazillions of women yearning for this part and plopped her back down again in Scotland because she was born for this role. I don’t even want to contemplate going back to a world where I can’t watch her on my TV screen. ‘The Balfe’ will win a Bafta, an Emmy and every award the Industry offers. It’s only a matter of time.
This sums up the reasons for my first official fan girl experience. I’m proud to share my love of ‘The Balfe’ with those of you who love her too! Now, if we can only survive Droughtlander Part 2 and make it to Dragonfly In Amber in one piece, I’ll be a happy woman. Maybe there will be a miracle and Starz will even tell us when that will be. We can always dream, right?
Author’s note: Most photos are property of Starz, others have stamps on them, some I could not find the source. If some kind person would tell me (very slowly and clearly cuz I’m a techno-dork) how to put the little ‘Source’ thingie next to the photo so I could credit the right person, I’d be forever grateful. For now, you have to read the stamp on the photo, assume it’s Starz or know that I don’t know. #Yikes
Another Author’s Note: Geez, I’m wordy! If you like the Hepburn/Balfe meme, please feel FREE to share it with your peeps!
Author’s Note: I’ve read Outlander an embarrassing number of times, 10-ish?, so I obviously knew what to expect this week. There were incredible performances all season long #EmmysForCaitrionaBalfe and Sam Heughan, but nothing, NOTHING, prepared me for the brilliance of Sam Heughan’s multi-layered performance in this episode. Brave doesn’t begin to describe his agonizing, heartbreaking portrayal of a man who sacrifices EVERYTHING to save someone he loves, and I truly hope those who vote for acting awards, don’t let his leading man looks overpower their perception of his talent. That shizzle usually only happens to women though, so he’ll probably be okay.
So let us begin….
The sun is shining on a beautiful Wentworth morning (#Oxymoron) and the hills are alive with the sounds of fife and drums which remind me of happy July 4th Celebrations from my New England childhood. The redcoat who read the names at Taran MacQuarrie’s hanging is there and he’s leading the morning drill. This soldier has a hero’s face and just like I hoped he’d save the men at the hanging, I have a glimmer of hope he’ll intervene and save Jamie, but alas he does not.
Jamie is lying on his cot in the dungeon cell and the look on his face breaks my heart. Both his hands are bloody and I want to bring him some antibiotic ointment and bandages, but that isn’t possible. The camera pulls back to a chilling sight as Jack Randall is asleep next to him.
The music has awoken Randall and he stands and walks toward his clothing as his now benign naughty bits half-heartedly bounce with each step. He hears a strange sound and goes to investigate leaving Jamie begging to be killed in a voice that does not sound like his own. Just as BJR arrives at a door, MacRannoch’s cows stampede and knock him unconscious on the floor leaving him bleeding from the head. The MacKenzie men hurry past him and I wish they’d stop for a moment and finish the job.
The men find Jamie; Murtagh wraps him in his kilt and carries him out the door looking for all the world like the hero he has become to us. All Hail Lord Murtagh!
Claire is waiting for the men in the middle of a road and when she spies the wagon coming toward her, she quickly jumps aboard to help Jamie and just as quickly he tries to choke her. Rupert knocks his hand away and takes off like a bat out of hell for the Abbey. They arrive and get Jamie settled on a cot in a sparsely appointed room. Claire tries to coax Jamie to talk, but he rejects her plea. Jamie flashes back to his time in the prison with Randall. Just after Claire left, BJR pulled the nail from his hand, and Jamie fell to the floor and vomited. Randall pulled him into his arms and ‘baptized’ him. (It’s been a very busy week, I’m exhausted and there’s so much religious imagery in this episode, I decide to skip church on Sunday and work in my garden which is usually my ‘closest to God moment’ every week as I love working with soil.)
BJR says the only thing I’ve ever agreed with which is “Dear God, you are a magnificent creature.” Randall begins to fondle him and it’s very difficult to watch. #gag He then threatens Jamie saying he needs to respond or “my men can have Claire back here within the hour.” Jamie spits in his face….hard and accurate and for one brief moment I think of American baseball where they spit way too much and it comforts me. Randall turns into the sadistic lunatic we know he is and throws poor Jamie over a table and ……. I really can’t go there, we all already know.
Claire sedates Jamie with whisky and laudanum and performs a grueling surgery to repair Jamie’s hand. One of the monks comes into the room and hands over a scary looking vice.
A monk tells Claire to go rest as he will watch Jamie, so she staggers from the room and vomits in the hallway, which is becoming somewhat of a habit, and then goes to chapel. (Aside: My hubby and his ten siblings had 12 years in Catholic school and he LOVED this scene! I’m a Presbyterian and only liked it. ) While at the chapel, she takes a moment and unburdens her heavy heart to this man. I’m a big fan of his soup can art.
The next day, Jamie tells Claire he does not want to be saved. He refuses to eat; they are all worried about him. Murtagh, the world’s second strongest, kindest man, goes to speak to his godson. Their conversation is in Gaihdlig. I think if I listen hard enough, I will understand. I have obviously overestimated my talents cuz I got nuthin.
Back to the dungeon cell and terrible things are happening. Jamie is hallucinating, BJR is torturing him, there’s horrible pain, branding and Sam Heughan is delivering the goods. #EmmysForSamHeughan
Back at the Abbey, the MacKenzies and Claire have realized Jamie’s not getting better and they must leave Scotland as they are not safe from the damn redcoats. Murtagh goes to secure passage on a ship. Jamie tries to bully sweet Willie into giving him his knife so he can kill himself. Willie refuses and tells Claire. Claire confronts Murtagh and finds out Jamie also told Murtagh he wants to die. Claire faints. This episode is so painful to watch and re-cap, and I know I must watch it at least two more times. So, I decide to do a shot every time somebody faints or vomits because that will get me through.
The monk tells them Jamie’s soul is in torment and Murtagh says the only way to save his soul is for someone to enter the darkness with him and they look at Claire. Later, Claire picks lavender and pounds it and makes it into an oil. She rubs it on herself and Jamie and forces him back into the dark world he inhabited with Randall. I’m not going to re-hash what happened, we all know…but I’ll take a moment now and mention again Heughan’s bravery as an actor.
Jamie finally tells Claire what happened with Randall and says that “Randall broke me”. Claire disagrees and tells him “you did what was necessary to survive”. Note: I wish men understood that if we love you, we will do whatever it takes to help you, save you, keep you well. She reminds him that he swore he would protect her with his body if need be and she’s right. She says if he stops being her husband, she will die there with him. And…finally he listens to her, they embrace and thus begins his slow journey back to life. First stop? Murtagh cuts out Randall’s brand.
Jamie, Claire & Murtagh are leaving for France. They’re all on the beach with the ship waiting a small distance from the shore. Claire kisses Willie goodbye. Angus has a humongous brain fart and tries to get jiggy with Claire as he says goodbye. Rupert is a gentleman and kisses her hand. Murtagh tells them all to ‘piss off’. I love Murtagh and I love them too, so I wrote a song! It’s right down there….can ye see it?
On the ship, Jamie seems to be getting stronger as he’s able to walk unassisted. They briefly discuss what their future may be like and then Claire shares the joyous news that she is pregnant and we finally get a real smile of hope from Jamie. They kiss and embrace and sail off to their new life in France ending our first season of Outlander, the best television program of the year.
The following highlights are some of my favorite moments from the first season of Outlander.
1) Went to #OutlanderInvadesLA at the Orpheum with my friend Cyd and had a ball! Really Dumb Thing I Did? When the talkative usher told me where Sam & Cait would be entering and exiting the building, I didn’t go to meet them because I didn’t want to bother them. #ImABigDumbIdiotWhoShouldBeMadeToWearADuncecap (The blonde is my friend Cyd and look who’s on the other side! I didn’t know her then!)
2) Met Kris and Brian Terpstra at the Los Angeles hotel where we were all staying for the L.A. event. Since then, they’ve come to visit my husband and me in Austin, they are wonderful folks and are now true, forever friends. So what if I never forgive them for leaving me in the Orpheum lobby to stuff my face with teacakes while they were back stage shmoozing with the beautiful people. I understand forgiveness is a process, so it may take a while. #Sobbing Note: Kris is so short next to Sam and Brian, she looks like she’s at an entirely different party!
3) Had so many feels during the lead up to Episode 1, I wrote down my thoughts, then figured out how to make a Word Press blog (freaking miracle as I’m a techno-moron) so other people could read it. Why be alone with my thoughts, right? Along with my husband, Richard the artiste, I began making memes. This one was the most popular and was on the Starz website for a very long time.
4) Still had some feels so designed Outlander t-shirts and sent them to the cast and crew along with some other wee gifties. As you may already know, Customs is the devil, so they sent them back to me. Since I rarely take no for an answer, I sent them back again. With the help of someone who shall go nameless so nobody bothers him/her, they finally arrived at their destination. Then young Mr. Hollywood, who’s on his way to becoming the most well-known driver in the history of showbiz, tweeted out a photo. Well done sir!
5) ‘Met’ Connie Sandlin, the Gracious Queen of Outlanderia and through her I was able to auction Sam Heughan’s Emulsion fedora and trench coat on eBay for charity. Met a gazillion and twelve Outlander fans at the Emulsion Austin screening, raised tons of money and had a blast!! Cool thing that happened was this tweet of my daughter, Grace, sent out by Himself, the burly and handsome Mr. Heughan. Fun fact: When you have all those notifications at once and you leave the room, the phone vibrates off the desk and onto the floor, shattering the screen. As if I care……
6) And this only happened once, but at least it happened. Diana G read something I wrote and not only didn’t she throw it down with disgust, she recommended it. Yep, I can die happy now.
8) The first time I tweeted an Outlander blog approximately 8 people read it and I was over the moon with joy. But that’s not why I wrote it. Truthfully, I had waited over 20 years to see a visual production of Outlander I had a ton of feelings, and it coincided with both my adult children moving out of state last summer for new opportunities and I needed to fill up that space in my heart or lose my mind. I’m very grateful that the show came along when it did because the creative process and new relationships probably saved my sanity.
The response I’ve had to the blog has been overwhelming and my favorite thing in the world is when people say I make them laugh. When a gorgeous friend, let’s call her Jeanne Murdock, showed me how to read Analytics I was shocked to see that those original 8 people have grown to 500,000. I can’t believe how many new friends I’ve made both in person and on-line because of this show. I think the Outlander ‘fanmily’ are pioneers both in building on-line relationships and supporting each other and the cast, crew, writers, directors, producers with both words and actions especially in terms of fundraising.
Like most fanmilies, it’s not perfect, we’ve all made mistakes, even me. But most of our interaction has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m so happy to have had this adventure with you all. And by the way. How did Richard and I know that 30 years ago we should climb up to the top of this huge rock quarry and pose for these hoochie-mama photos leaning against giant stones? We. Were. So. Psychic.
Now is the time in our journey, where I suppose we should all hold hands and sing ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, but before I go, I have one final question. What in the heck are we supposed to do for the next year or so? Anybody have an idea? Anybody?