Coffee and Opinions

My two cents on stuff

Binge-watch-worthy shows for cord cutters - “Outlander”

I gave “Showtime” on Amazon Instant a try, and as part of this got to watch the first season of “Outlander”, a show with an intriguing concept. (“While on her honeymoon, WWII combat nurse Claire Randall is mysteriously transported back to 1743 Scotland, where she is kidnapped by a group of Highlanders - and meets an injured young man named Jamie.”)

There is clearly a lot of fodder for good conflict and storylines there - even before you find out that her arch-enemy of the 1700’s is played by the same (great!) actor (Tobias Menzies) as her loving husband in the 1900’s. (A genius move that is genuinely unsettling.)

There is some fantastic stuff where we get to ponder, including how circumstances turn people evil (often in a greater societal context).

While the show wasn’t quite captivating enough for me to truly binge-watch (I watched the first season over a period of three weeks or so), the show was still above average, especially if you enjoy history dramas and Scottish landscapes. (Swoon!)

The male lead reminded me a bit of Patrick Swayze, circa “Dirty Dancing” and “North and South”. (Still sad about his passing… he was always one of my favorite actors.)

The second season completely fell apart for me though. It seemed they were trying to give it a much more “Game of Thrones”-y vibe, cranking up the sex and violence factor as Jamie and Claire spend time in Paris. But the subtleties and human interest that made the first season so good were virtually non-existent after they leave Scotland, so I gave up on the show early on in season 2.

I should note though - even in the first season there was one scene that I just hated. It involved Claire taking revenge on Jamie for spanking her, as was the custom for husbands with disobedient wives back then, apparently. To teach him that she won’t tolerate that abuse, she becomes physically and emotionally violent herself (?!!). The scene culminates with her holding a knife to his throat while making love to him. (This is a man who had suffered extreme torture and abuse just months earlier, and was clearly still suffering from PTSD.)

That made me so mad! The fact that her character became less and less likeable probably contributed to the fact that I stopped watching a few episodes into season two.

Still, an above-average show overall. Not for everyone (and it starts a bit slow), but if you like it by S1E3, it only gets better for (most) of that season.


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