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Review: Starz's 'Outlander'

Starz’s much-touted original fantasy-themed series Outlander won’t disappoint fans eagerly awaiting the transition of Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling book series to the small screen.

The series follows Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married British combat nurse in 1945 who is trying to rediscover life with her husband, Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies). A second honeymoon trip to picturesque Scotland allows Frank to trace his family roots back to the 18th century.

Claire winds up getting transported back to circa 1743 Scotland and is quickly engulfed in a world she knows nothing about, aside than from her husband’s historical findings.

She eventually has an encounter with one of Frank’s more scoundrel ancestors, English Army Capt. Black Jack Randall (also played by Menzies) before being saved by Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Once in the presence of the Scots, Claire tries to make sense of what has happened to her while trying to balance her desire to return to her former life with husband Frank and dealing with the reality of her current situation and her developing feelings for Jamie.

The series cleverly balances the potentially difficult changeovers between the 20th and 18th centuries without losing or boring the viewer, using voiceovers from Claire to smooth the transition. While the pilot takes its time in developing the characters and setting the plot, the action picks up in future episodes as the strong-willed Claire finds herself torn between the life she once knew and the existence she must ultimately come to grips with.

Starz does a great job at authenticating 18th-century Scotland through the costumes, weapons and picturesque locations, all of which make Outlander a must-see for fans of the book series as well as fantasy-series aficionados.