“Outlander” premieres tonight on Starz. The show from executive producer Ronald D. Moore and adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series centers on Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743.
As Battlestar Galactica was winding down production five years ago, I had dinner with my wife, Terry, and my producing partner, Maril, to talk about the future. BSG had been an extraordinary experience, and none of us were sure we could find something that would be as thrilling and satisfying to work on ever again. At some point, Terry and Maril began talking about this book that they both loved, but had never spoken about called Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Their enthusiasm was obvious and by the time they decided to bring me into the conversation, I was already intrigued by something that each clearly felt so passionately about and agreed to check out the book as soon as possible.
It was a great read. A page-turner in the classic sense. I loved the central character of Claire, finding her by turns smart, funny, caustic, defiant, vulnerable, heroic, and always very, very human. The book managed to evoke both post-war and especially 18th century Scotland with verisimilitude and verve, and the historian in me enjoyed learning about a world I only dimly knew from my own studies. And then there were the twists and turns of the plot, with Claire being dealt sudden reversals of fortune and surprises just when the narrative would settle into what seemed like a comfortable stretch of pleasant storytelling and instead become nightmarish with nary a warning.
I was sold and then set about tracking down the rights and eventually selling the show to both the studio and the network, both of whom saw the same potential I did for a serialized television series and turning the already huge readership into an even bigger audience of viewers.
Today, we’ve reached the premiere of the first season of Outlander and I’m both pleased and proud to say that I’ve found another extraordinary project that promises to be as thrilling and satisfying as BSG was in its own way. I hope you enjoy our show and that you’ll join the ranks of the legions of fans already out there eagerly awaiting the chance to join Claire on her amazing adventure.
Ronald D. Moore