"Outlander." Starz continues its canny courtship of the often underserved female audience with a fine and drop-dead gorgeous adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's eight-book, internationally bestselling series.
Describing what it's about makes it sound silly: A former World War II field nurse recently reunited with her soldier husband wanders into a ring of standing stones on the Scottish Highlands only to be transported to 1743 where she becomes a "guest" of clan MacKenzie. What, a one-period period drama is no longer enough? We have to mash up "Call the Midwife" with "Game of Thrones?"
Certainly Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) has the alabaster loveliness belying a fiery nature required of most every modern historical heroine and she quickly finds herself torn not just between two centuries but between two men as well. As much as she longs to see her husband Frank (
But once "Outlander" gets past its rather tortured logistical setup — the Randalls are visiting the Highlands because Frank has Scottish blood, including an ancestor who plays the requisite sadistic British psychopath (see also Tim Roth in "Rob Roy") — it's hard not to get caught up in the uniformly well-acted, historically tantalizing and exquisitely rendered drama. A stranger in a strange land, Claire faces the universal issues of time travel: How to pass as a citizen of another time while finding a way home. As a woman, she must cope with the less enlightened views of those now around her, and as a healer, find a way to help without being branded a witch.
More important, perhaps most important, a woman who has just spent years defending her country against brutes and tyrants must face the brutal and tyrannical reality of that country's history.
But it's the land, and the time that mesmerizes most. Forget the
“Legends.” It's been a big year for producer Howard Gordon, who has helped bring us a third season of
Bean plays Martin Odum, a deep-cover operative for the
There is also a chance that Odum is himself a legend, one of those psychologically manipulated super-agents screenwriters love so much.
Despite all this boilerplate and a more than passing resemblance to "
Archival footage, combined with Cavett’s memories and interviews with the usual suspects (
“The Honorable Woman.” Exploring the seemingly endless conflict between Israel and Palestine at a time when the bloodshed there is again in the news, Hugo Blick's series both embraces and transcends its subject matter. The child of a Holocaust survivor turned pro-Israeli arms manufacturer, Nessa Stein (
Needless to say this causes tension on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the issue, while revealing all manner of MI5/CIA political intrigue. And Nessa, though honorable to the point of obsessive, is not without her secrets.