Friday, February 14, 2020

The Frasers Are Here! Outlander Season Five Premiere

Outlander Homepage Originals by Nancy McGehee Fontenot

In an increasingly divided world, Outlander (first the novels, and now the show) has globally bridged many gaps to a common ground for fans worldwide. I know this because I am one of them, and it’s the reason I was able to attend my first season premiere event in New York City. It was great to once again spend time with Dorianne Paniche of Outlander Homepage, and quite a few more amazing women, all of whom I’ve come to know and cherish, thanks to Outlander.  While gathered for dinner and drinks prior to the premiere event, friendship and our mutual love for the Frasers epic saga, rapidly became the theme of the evening. Which was quite appropriate considering friendship, family, love, loyalty, and the desperate ends a person will go to for all of those things, appears to be the overall theme for season five of the Starz's series Outlander.

The term “premiere” in conjunction with the entertainment industry, instantly conjures images of red carpet glamour, but that’s not exactly what this premiere was. It was better than that. Naturally, most Outlander events attract a predominantly female audience, and Tuesday night was no exception. Ladies and a few fellows brave enough to tag along, filled the auditorium. Everyone happy to be there and excited to see familiar, friendly faces of friends and acquaintances from previous Outlander events, and social media groups. It was a grand gathering to rival that of Castle Leoch’s in season one! Quickly, seats were filled and the lights came down and we were transported to Fraser’s Ridge with the opening credits of episode one of Outlander’s fifth season…The Fiery Cross.

I’m going to stop right here and skip to the discussion panel that immediately followed the first episode viewing. I hate spoilers in spite of being a book fan who already knows the story.  So much like Claire, with her “foreknowledge of things to come,” I will keep what I know about what I watched to myself…with this exception… If you loved season one, you are going to LOVE this episode.

As we were all trying to compose ourselves after the final scene, the stage lights came up and the real fun began. The joie de vivre was palpable as Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, and Diana Gabaldon joined the evening’s host, Julie Kosin from Elle Magazine, on stage. Once the crowd was quieted and everyone settled on the panel, Sam and Cait both launched into nervous giggles like children sharing a naughty secret. It’s obvious the pair are very dear friends, and play off of each other like long time besties often do. Sophie and Rik were a little more subdued, as though soaking it all in, and granted, this kind of celebrity is pretty new to them. Herself" Diana, sat at the end, like a doting mother admiring her progeny, regal as any queen. Queen she is too, of the realm of her creation, Outlander, although when you meet her in person, (yes, I’ve had that privilege) she instantly conveys a sense of bon homme, and is very personable and down to earth.

This is where I must apologize, as I was sitting in the last row, trying to absorb every question, every actor/author reply, while trying to video, and capture still shots with my iphone. It’s impossible for me to recap verbatim, but I can provide the highlights and standout moments from my perspective. Those of you who know me, know I love Diana's novels and I’ve read all eight novels at least twice, and listened to them on audio countless times. I realize adapting novels of such epic proportions into one hour of television is a Herculean feat, and I feel that so far it has been accomplished admirably.  Show business is never consistent and Outlander is no exception from the norm. Several changes have been made regarding crew members and production of the show, creating opportunity for even more involvement from the cast. Caitriona and Sam both broadened their involvement by adding producer to their job duties this season. It was very refreshing when Caitriona flatly stated that there isn’t really any need to deviate from Diana’s words, as she has provided all the details for the story. Sam heartily agreed, and in reply to a follow up questions from Julie, revealed that the writing was better this season than in past seasons. So, fellow book lovers, based on those comments and the episode I previewed, I think we can rest be assured of getting the story we all know and love so much, from season five.

It is true that Sam gets the lion’s share of female adoration, which is well deserved. The man is as boyishly charming as he is drop dead gorgeous. But Rik Rankin has THE sexiest Scottish accent and I could listen to the man talk non-stop. Plus, he is also pretty easy on the eyes. Imagine a conversation between Rik Rankin and Sean Connery in the same room… well, there goes those exploding ovaries again! Seriously though, I love to hear Rik talk and I’m thrilled with his portrayal of Roger Mac. Being the son in law of the King of Men ain’t easy! Rik and Sophie also share a camaraderie that is delightful to observe, and based on their on screen chemistry, I for one am looking forward to watching their story arc develop this season. 

For me the highlights of the entire evening, (besides getting to preview the first episode) was finding out that Diana wrote episode 511, the entire audience being serenaded by Rik, and as a former whisky expert and blogger, I found the fact that none of them knew the Irish whisky from the scotch, or Japanese, yet they drink it all the time, pretty hysterical. Oh and that in spite of Sam’s opinion, Caitriona’s imitation of a Scottish accent was spot on! But it still isn’t as sexy as Rik’s. Overall the night was exceptional, and quite literally bowled me over. (I missed a step exiting my seat row in the dark and landed on my big arse in the middle of the aisle) Being in the last row turned out to be a good thing after all!

Droughtlander is finally over and the Frasers of the Ridge are here! I promised no spoilers, and I always keep my promises, yet I feel somewhat obligated to give up a wee bit of something so as not to leave you all totally unprepared. Besides, I know you’ve been watching the trailers like fiends, and know a wedding will take place. Despite the recurring theme of love, family, friendship, and loyalty, expect to witness lovers jilted, many drunks tilted, and Highlanders kilted. Je suis prest… are you?

Slainte Mhath!

Panel clips from the media outlets who were backstage....

Video from the 92Y

Nancy McGehee Fontenot of Outlander Homepage Originals

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