Until very recently, I hadn’t listened to a “book on tape” since elementary school, when the librarian would play the story and flip through the pages for a group of us kids sitting on the floor with our legs crossed.
Flash forward a couple of decades or so and I’ve not only discovered Outlander the television series, but also Outlander the book series, and beyond that, Outlander the audiobooks. I give full credit to the ladies at the Outlander Podcast for the discovery of Davina Porter, narrator of the series. Being an audiobook narrator is a talent that not all people have. It isn’t just reading words off the page, it’s becoming the characters. And to me, the biggest feat is to convincingly portray the manliest (and arguably the sexiest) male character so well, that I forget who is actually speaking. Well, I can tell you about one woman who has absolutely nailed it.
It started with pure luck and persistence. Nosing around the interwebs can prove to be fruitful, especially when you discover your favorite author will not only be in town but for 2 different events in 2 places you’re very familiar with–the local renaissance festival and your university alma mater.
I mean, let’s talk about geeking out here.
Ever since I became obsessed with the Outlander book series (and television show) last year, I’ve been keeping close tabs on Diana Gabaldon’s event schedule, should she make her way east. And then, she finally did.
I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter these days. I find it the best way to keep track of breaking news and all of the things I fan over. It gives me a closer connection to the things I love. This time, it served to remind me of what’s going on in the world and the fact that I actually could help, even from so far away…
There have been quite a few polls/contests hosted by websites, where fans are asked to vote for their favorite actor/character. In fact, it feels like they’re never-ending. It can be a bit of fun (though, I won’t deny the feeling that so many of these challenges are more for website clicks than anything else). And if you’ve been a part of any of it, you know some fans are very dedicated to rallying the troops for votes. (Admittedly, though I do participate, it isn’t nearly as much as others.)
Outlander’s Sam Heughan really pushed fans to vote for him in the Radio Times TV Champion, and it was a lot of fun to watch and be a part of. His enthusiasm and engagement with fans around this poll was great. To me, when the actor is into it and turns it into a way to get ordinary people involved, that’s when I want to jump in and be a part of the action.
Let me set this up for you: I’m sitting here in my Downton Abbey Village Flower Show t-shirt with a glass of red wine. The only way I’d be in a more Downton mood was if I had a cuppa instead of the wine…
So with the Last Days of Downton upon us, it felt like a good time to take a moment and think about where our favorite characters will end up. (I suppose we can consider these OUR last days of Downton, though the cast and crew seem to have seen their last days and then maybe cried a little–and I fully expect to sob.) A few “soft” spoilers were shared by Vanity Fair recently, and with those in mind, I’d like to share my little Downton wishlist. (Warning: If you’re not caught up through the end of Season 5, you may want to skip the rest of this post.)
The Emmy nominations were announced last week and as much as I love TV, I’ve never really paid any mind to the nominations. I would be happy to hear that Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey received a few nods, but otherwise, it didn’t really seem to matter much to me. Not even the awards show itself.
But this year has been different. I’ve made it no secret that I love Outlander–the books and the TV series–and I’ve never seen acting that was so moving before. Never. So this year, I’ve been a supporter of the #EmmysForOutlander campaign, especially for Sam and Caitriona, but also costuming, set design, and many other categories that I would’ve thought were no brainers because they were just so good, so intricate, and completely on point with the story and the time period.
I am writing this letter to you to express my undying love for your willingness to share British television with anglophiles like myself.
It was only with the rising fame of Downton Abbey a few years ago that made me take notice of you (except when I was a kid tuning in to the local PBS station for Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street). Apparently, Masterpiece has been around a while (40 years to be exact) and while that’s a fact, I still feel like it’s still a bit of a hidden gem for my generation.
It’s really an anglophile’s dream–free British television available right here in the States. And that actually goes beyond just the Masterpiece series. You have upped your Sunday night game with quality British television that rivals that of the ever-popular powerhouse networks.
Did I mention you give me great television for free? Okay, just checking. I mean, I can even count on being able to catch your programming while visiting my parents who are cable-free. It’s amazing.
I think perhaps you should consider renaming your network to Public British Service–just a thought.
My growing list of TV favorites include many series that you bring to the U.S.–Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Sherlock, and now 2 new series Poldark and The Crimson Field. Needless to say, please keep doing what you’re doing.
Also, send Darlene Shiley my thanks as well. Her $1 million donation to Masterpiece is only going to help bring those great British dramas for years to come.
And finally, your ads for Viking River Cruises makes me want to take my own voyage with them despite the likely age gap between me and the retired couples that seem to be the demographic. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but the lack of millennials in the commercials make me pretty positive I’d be the youngest patron by at least a couple of decades, and yet, I’m still interested in giving it a go.
In conclusion, I’d like to say thanks to YOU, public television. You’ve been placed up there with the other TV network “greats” and the best part is that I don’t ever have to worry about whether my cable package includes you or not. 😉
PBS hasn’t made much of a fuss over The Crimson Field, a WWI drama that originally aired on BBC One last year. In fact, it’s been far off in the shadows of Poldark, a Masterpiece Classic and already-predicted fan favorite featuring the ever handsome Aidan Turner.
I had wondered why I hadn’t heard too much about this British drama, only occasional mentions online. But alas, I finally got my answer. BBC chose to cancel this program shortly after its first season of 6 episodes ended. According to reports, writer Sarah Phelps had sketched out future plots and had all intentions of seeing this series last for at least 4 more seasons. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
What a bloody shame!
I generally avoid shows I know have been cancelled or are rumored to be, but I was intrigued. I’m a total sucker for British dramas. My Twitter friends and fellow British TV fans were raving over this series…and well, they were right. It was a great first episode.
We follow an army medical team in the field on the coast of France as they care for the wounded. There are strong female characters, a couple of dashing gents (don’t get me started on my new crush Richard Rankin), and several familiar faces from shows like Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. In the first episode alone, we deal with the affects of PTSD, a complex main character who is rough around the edges but clearly hiding something, and the daily dealings of war. Then, top all of that off with the lovely Scottish accent of Captain Tom Gillan, whom many fans call the Scottish Mr. Darcy (and I’m totally with them on that one).
As Sunday night drew near, I began to see Poldark being compared to Downton Abbey, and yet I would argue The Crimson Field may be the closer match. There’s the drama of war time, an ensemble cast of strong characters, and the potential for a love story or two.
How can a show with such great reaction by fans be given up on so quickly?
We’ve seen some networks show a little patience for new shows (though often they’re comedies, not dramas) and we’ve also seen them bring the ax down quickly on others. And in more recent years, some canceled shows are given new life by a new network–though it’s never been for a show that was canceled so early, nor for a British series. In the age of shows being rescued by other networks, here’s hoping that The Crimson Field will get that treatment as well. (PBS, are you reading this?)
In the meantime, I’m raising my glass to the upcoming 5 episodes. No matter the outcome, I plan to enjoy every second of it for the next 5 Sundays.
I had a pleasant surprise for it being a Monday, and then I nerded out a little.
An email arrived from The Official Sherlock Convention. (For those who may not know, the first ever convention for BBC’s Sherlock was held in London this past April.) At first, I was like “Come on, stop bragging about how amazing the convention was.” However, there was a line that changed my tune:
It’s true, in the VERY NEAR future we will be announcing not one, but two dates for 2016 and one of those dates will be in America!
Prepare to be SHERLOCKED!
Now for those who may need a refresher on Sherlock, allow me to remind you. It is a BBC production staring myman Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson. So far, there have been 3 seasons, chalk full of crime and mystery. It’s a unique series with each season having 3 movie-length episodes, and while it tackles the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it definitely has a modern twist, plus some fun shots of one of my favorite cities in the world: London.
If the 2016 conventions are anything like the first, there will be opportunities to see many of the show’s actors in person, participating in Q&As and–most importantly–being available for autographs and photos (for a price, of course…but then again, can you really put a price on a photo with Mr. Cumberbatch? I think not!).
In light of this news, I’m raising my wine glass to toast my fellow Cumberbitches as we sit and wait for more information on such an amazingly nerdy experience. 2016 is still a ways out, but time does fly. Stay tuned!
So as with most of the new episodes, I stayed up, drank wine, and waited until midnight. An hour later, when the credits began to roll, I sat there stunned. What the hell did I just watch?
Well, I’ll tell you what–the most horrific scenes and gut-wrenching performances I have EVER had the pleasure seen in my life. Ever. Every single actor was at the top of his/her game, but folks, I have to single out one man–the same man Diana Gabaldon wrote about the other day, the same one all of us fans have been praising every week….
Sam Heughan, this post is my open letter to you.
I’m sitting here trying to put together the write words to express how much your performance as Jamie Fraser in To Ransom A Man’s Soul affected me. I mean, I’m tearing up here in the cafe I’m sitting in just thinking about it.
In my shocked state at 2 or 3am, I began to just write down words that represented what I was feeling–
And never in my life would I have equated those feelings with COMPLETE BRILLIANCE. I prepared myself with wine, tissues, and a pillow. I didn’t get very far in the wine department because I just couldn’t stomach it. I was in as much pain as a girl can be, sitting on her couch in her pjs, hugging a pillow tight, heart racing. They say that nothing can be worse than your imagination, meaning that what we all read in the book and pictured in our minds would always be worse than what we would see on TV–WRONG. So wrong, and yet so right because my God, man, that was so good, it hurt.
Now, I’m just one of the many, many fans who are crying out #EmmysForOutlander on Twitter, but I hope the Television Academy is listening. There’s no room for consideration here, it’s just a must.
Thanks, Sam. Truly. And thank you to ALL of the cast and crew. You’ve set the bar so very high.
P.S. For those who haven’t seen this episode yet, or even seen this show, please do. I may be considered a bit biased as a major book fan as well, but this is what good writing and good television is and always should be.
I just have to say something about Outlander because this is wine words & nerds after all (emphasis on the last 2 at the moment), and the fact is, I’m a nerd about Outlander. It is by far my absolute favorite story both on the small screen and on paper. So it’s a little bit fitting that my first real post (because let’s face it, the intro doesn’t count) is about this show adapted from one of my all time favorite books. Here in part one, you’re witnessing the calm before the storm. A little bit of fangirling over amazing television and the preparation for what lies in the aftermath of the Season 1 finale.
I’m just a girl, who heard about this “Game of Thrones for Women” TV show set in Scotland, was completely intrigued, and found a way to steal a friend’s Starz account (not really, she knew about it) and binge episodes 1-7. I’m also just a girl, who had been on a reading hiatus FOR YEARS and took the time to turn droughtlander into a book binge fest. (THANK YOU, Diana, for writing so many books over the years. They got me hooked on reading again!)
What is it about this show and book series that has hooked me and countless other fans around the world? This groundbreaking show has brought to life a story that has been breaking ground since the early 90s, and I think what strikes me most about the TV series is just how much care all of those involved have taken to make the best adaptation possible. It couldn’t be a more perfect storm of brilliance. There is so much talent and mutual respect amongst all those involved AND IT SHOWS. Then take a moment to Google all of the reviews and recent coverage. I don’t know that I’ve seen so much heartfelt praise over a show that has only just completed its first season. And that kind of blows my mind. It isn’t something you see often.
This story is…fearless, progressive, groundbreaking, strong, Emmy-worthy, brave, dark, sexy, beautiful, not perfect but damn near close at times, setting a very high standard in television, the product of so much talent and hard work, loved dearly and most appreciated… I’m summarizing so much here, but if you’re a fan, you already know all of this, and if you’re not yet a fan, GET TO IT.
Enough words, Sassenachs. It’s time for wine, because THIS finale is going to be the most defining moment for Outlander and perhaps television itself. It’s something I’ve heard is going to make me weep or ugly cry–well for me, they’re one in the same. Let’s face it, this episode WILL TEAR MY GUTS OUT (see what I did there?).