Review: Starz’s ‘Outlander’ Needs to Kill the Voice-Over Before The Voice-Over Kills It

Review: Starz's 'Outlander' Needs to Kill the Voice-Over Before The Voice-Over Kills It

Let’s talk about voice-over. It’s a storytelling device with a long and proud history stretching back to the beginnings of film, used to beautiful effect by legendary writer/directors such as Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz in the 1950s, and no shortage of other writers since. Voice-over offers the writer an opportunity to introduce alternate perspectives, inner insight and potentially, even an unreliable narrator — when used well, it has real potential to heighten, complicate and enlighten a visual narrative.  

But when it’s not used well, it can be deadly. In this case, it might just murder Starz’s "Outlander." 

Based on the popular book series by Diana Gabaldon, and developed for television by respected showrunner Ronald D. Moore, "Outlander" is a promising series, with a promising cast and a premise with unique appeal. Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a young woman who’s just survived serving as a nurse during World War II, is visiting the Scottish countryside with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies), but finds herself whisked back in time to the 18th century. There, she not only encounters an ancestor of Frank’s, but the comely young Jamie (Sam Heughan), at which point a love story stretched across centuries gets complicated.  

READ MORE: Meet Outlander, the Anti-Game of Thrones

What does Claire think about this? Don’t worry, you’ll find out. Because it’s not an exaggeration to say that a good 25 percent of the first episode is overlaid with the most heavy-handed use of voice-over I’ve seen so far this year — hell, maybe this decade. It’s the rare scene that isn’t accompanied by Claire’s internal monologue on the events unfolding, and it’s the rare scene which wouldn’t be improved by that monologue’s removal. 

Voice-over transitions the viewer to flashbacks. (Never mind that dozens of shows have figured out how to introduce flashbacks without voice-over.) A voice-over statement like "Frank was interested in history"? It’s then followed by Frank reciting some history. Claire voice-overs during drives through the countryside. Claire voice-overs while walking. Claire voice-overs while shopping. Claire will not. Stop. Talking.


It’s not even that the writing of the voice-over is fundamentally bad. It’s just, by and large, overused and unnecessary. It gets to the point where during the latter of the first episode’s two sex scenes, Claire muses that "Sex was our bridge back to one another — the one place we always met." But we can see that they’re connecting with each other. They are literally connected, at that moment, by their genitals. 

It’s enough to make you crave the relative silence of other shows — "The Leftovers" may be sad and grim, but it at least trusts the viewer to understand that when two people are making love, they are in the same room.  

Moore’s involvement with "Outlander" makes little sense in the context of his best-known work, the gritty and engrossing 2004 reboot of "Battlestar Galactica." But as a writer on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Moore was largely responsible for the creation and development of Klingon culture. Klingons, when you think about it, are an awful lot like Highlanders, and Moore’s attraction to Gabaldon’s books thus makes a fair amount of sense.  

You know what "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica" didn’t feel the need to use all that much? Voice-over. And "Battlestar Galactica" featured a society of human-looking single-deity-worshipping evil robots. "Outlander," by comparison, is much more simple. And yet. The voice-over persists.  

There are a few truly beautiful moments captured by director John Dahl in the first two episodes. These scenes include the mysterious and strange pagan ritual that might be responsible for Claire becoming unstuck in time (copyright Kurt Vonnegut), as well as the many moments featuring the lush Scottish countryside where "Outlander" was filmed. You know what those scenes do not feature, all that much? Voice-over. 

The voice-over isn’t necessarily my only complaint with the show. It also spends slightly more time in the year 1945 than necessary, hovering at the precipice of executing its premise for just past the edge of too long. When you know a character is about to travel through time, but have to wait 40 minutes for the actual event to occur, a certain level of impatience has a way of building up. Especially if the reason you know that something’s about to happen to this character is because you heard her say something about it in the voice-over. 

There’s a great show in here somewhere, don’t get me wrong. Balfe is a compelling lead, and her chemistry with Heughan is more than strong — which is very good news for "Outlander," because if you’ve read any of the books, you know that said chemistry is essential for sustaining the episodes to come. Overall, there’s a great deal of potential. It’s just a shame that it’s in danger of being smothered to death.

Is this voice over addiction a symptom of being too closely adapted from a book written in the first person? Is it a lack of editing on the writer’s part? Is it a lack of faith in the viewer to comprehend a high-concept premise? Imagine me looking out the window, my chin on my fist, as those questions are spoken by my unmoving lips. 

"When a show fails to get off the ground, it’s always a shame," the reviewer narrated. "But if this crib death cannot be prevented, it will truly be a tragedy."  

Grade (with voice-over): B-

Grade (without voice-over): B+

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,


Comments

Rosie

I hope they got rid of the voice over in later episodes. Caitriona Balfe does not have the voice for narration, let alone acting. She would have been great during the silent era.

Trick

The voiceover is written in extremely purple prose. Since there are visual ways of conveying the same point made in the voiceover, it’s also superfluous. It reminds me a lot of the voiceover at the beginning of "Romancing The Stone", written in much the same style, and that voiceover was used to ridicule its author’s highminded regard for lowest common denominator bodice-ripper writing.

Pat

I’ve seen every episode 17 in all. Voice over has never bothered me. I asked several friends and they feel the same. To each his own I guess….

dael

Never read any of the books but have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. For me, I like the voice over since it is describing her inner thoughts. I would be a person that would of stop watching it if not for the voice overs. Remember people, just when you are doing normal things in life, you still have little background thoughts which this show is trying too portray.

talia

I disagree. I think the voice overs are necessary. There is so much to the book and this helps people to understand what is going on. I hate watching a movie based on a book and needing to read the book to understand what the hell is happening in the movie. I happened to have read this book already and love the show. The voice overs are not too much for someone who cares about the story/plot rather than only the sex scene .

SC

Yup, the voice-over use in this series is kind of killing it for me, most nitpickily so because I don’t find Caitriona Balfe’s inflection-less voice particularly pleasant to listen to, but loyal readers of Gabaldon’s book series are on cloud nine. I haven’t read the books, and find the same positives you mentioned to be the best aspects of the series so far. I can’t say I find Outlander to be as brilliant as its fangirl viewing base does, but it’s certainly a step up, in my opinion, from the other original-series garbage Starz dishes out regularly. As far as acting chops go, Tobias Menzies has me transfixed. His skill level is on a whole other plane in comparison to most of the rest of the cast. Graham McTavish is also great as the questionable Dougal. As pretty as Balfe and Sam Heughan are, I personally haven’t found their chemistry to be as authentic as I would expect it to be after seeing in interviews how well they seem to get on in real life. The Wedding episode was apparently a singular, life-changing event for loyal viewers, but I didn’t buy it. Regardless of plot context, both Balfe and Heughan seemed to be playing to the cameras a bit too deliberately, which made it look to me as though both were just going through the motions. Heughan has the tendency to border on caricaturizing while Balfe lacks charisma. Aside from a few wonderfully truthful moments, the whole episode seemed almost over-rehearsed and over-directed, which destroyed its appeal for me.

Zandiman

Sometime in the last two decades it became dogma among so-called cinema experts (see self important critics) that narration and voiceover were always a bad thing — that it was a sign of bad writing and because film is a purely visual medium not to be tarnished by narration. Horse pucky.

Ms. Miller’s knee jerk reaction to the narration in Outlander betrays her lack of independent thinking. While it’s true that narration has been overused by lazy and untalented writers, in the hands of a master like Ronald D. Moore it enriches and enhance the story by giving us an insight into the character’s private thoughts. Such is the case with Outlander where Clare’s narration is effective in drawing us further into her inner life and making us care about her even more.

Abandon the hipster common knowledge Ms. Miller and try to be open to the joys of narration. It will greatly enrich your viewing experience.

Jeanne

KLINGONS!?!? Who is this critic, and where did she learn how to critique????
All of Gabaldon’s books have a voice over, and it would be impossible to imagine the
creation of this series without the use of the
characters voice overs. At different points in the continuing story, we hear the thoughts of most of the main characters. Without those inner ramblings, we would lose a huge dimension of the story.
Can you envision the close-up shots of
a widened eye, a raised brow, and then the music leaving you off in an odd note? It
brings to mind the soap opera, or a B class horror film.

This story demands the voice overs in much
the same way that Jean Auel’s books needed
them. Without them both the story and the
series fall flat.

I strongly suggest that this critic become more familiar with the authors’ works before
offering up such a ridiculous commentary.

There are thousands of authors who use their characters to think in their books. Perhaps Ms. Miller does not belive that Diana Gabaldon works of fiction doesn’t
qualify? Or perhaps and more likely, Ms. Miller just didn’t bother to read the books the way her most ardent admirers have.

I admire other authors who have characters who spend a fair amount of time ‘thinking’!!

My personal favorites are Sir Conan Doyle, Tom Clancy, Jean Auel, David R Palmer, Dick Francis, Catherine Coulter, and

Me

About the voice-over… the episodes are light on dialog because the books rely on what’s happening in Claire’s mind. Once transported back to 1740’s Scotland she has no one to confide in and for now so the story is told exclusively from her point-of-view. How else to convey that than with V-O’s.
I’ve read the first 7 books and am currenlty reading the 8th. While there is plenty of dialog to keep the reader’s attention, the 600+ pages of each novel are loaded with descriptions, expositions and action – I’m troubled by the dearth of dialog that may be lacking in the series unless Diana Gabaldon or someone she authorizes can advance the story & episodes with more dialog instead of V-O’s. Hopefully as more characters are introduced and Claire’s interactions with them are expanded (and the story expands to explore their connections with Claire and others) the need for V-O’s will also be diminished.

Tatiana

If only voice over! Lighting, lack of extreme close-ups, lousy acting, inferior directing. If they change all these aspects for season 2, the show will only gain. Judging by all supporting characters, Scottish people in the 18th century were so unattractive. Is any record of whether they were as short and inbred-looking as they are in the show? I thought the time of Dogme 95 has already passed. Why are they trying so much to create the effect of available lighting? It might be useful to be able to see human emotions from time to time on the badly lit and covered with mud faces.

Beck

As a huge fan and read Outlander more times than I can count, I think the voice ovet makes sense. Claire is speaking like she does in the story. Apparently you have not read it or paid much attention to the details in the 850 page novel. I was trilled with the series so far. As are all my other Jamie and Claire fans.

Ekaterina

I though it was great as is. The voice over didn’t distract for me at all. I loved every moment!

Jessica

I have a feeling that the voice-overs will be used less in subsequent episodes. The story, on the surface, is rather simple (woman travels through time), however, there are many layers and nuances to these characters that we’re being introduced to, and some clarification is necessary from time to time. I think that as the characters become more established, the use of the voice-over storytelling device will become less necessary. My husband has not read any of the books, and said that for the first episode he probably would have been a bit lost without Claire’s explanation on some things.

Kathleen Shannon

Voiceover doesn’t bother me at all, there isn’t too much of it. I’m listening to the audio books now, which are incredibly good, so it just seems an extension of that. I think he’s just trying to show how this is Claire’s story, from her POV. I’d like to see you make a mini series, my friends. It aint that easy. I think they are doing a fantastic job! I watched the first episode for free already, looking forward to more! I did not like the voiceover during the sex scene, though, that was stupid I admit. It’s uncomfortable enough already watching someone else make love. I’m not into spectator sports! Skip the VO on the sex scenes please, Ron. Cat is doing a marvelous job, considering she got cast 6 days before first filming day, and she’s in every scene. How do they do that????

Denise

I just wanted to say that I have read the series a couple of times over the years and I understood why the script was script adaptation was written that way because she wrote all of the books in first person narrative. So technically you were seeing and witnessing this all through the eyes of Clare Randall Fraser. So I don’t imagine that will change. Clare for whatever reason was dropped in the the 18th century during the Jacobite uprising and she has to be quick on her feet without giving too much away. She has NO one to confide in. During that time and as you will see witches that are healers can be burnt at the stake as witches so the self narrative was important to her sense of familiarity to the scene. As she developed more people she could share her secret with less voice over is necessary. Just an opinion from someone who has read the books many times and visited Scotland three times because of the inspiration this series.

Carl

Saw the first episode. Brave heart hauntingly so. Very cool. Show me more. Your obsession with VoiceOver makes me want to voice you over. Get a life.

Cynthia

I saw the first episode and loved it just as it is… as I have read the books, I see the necessity for the voice overs. It gives the back story which will become necessary in the episodes (books) to follow. As to the 40 minutes in 1945, this was necessary also to set the stage for the storyline that follows in the past… Don’t be so impatient…let the story unfold and you will be very entertained. This first episode had the huge task of preparing the viewers (many who have not read the books) for what is to come. If the only complaint you have is that you didn’t like the voice overs, well….then I guess that is pretty good when you consider the monumental undertaking it would be to bring this series of books to life. I give Starz two thumbs up!!

Ruth H.

Well, speaking as someone who’s read the books, as well … One of the things I liked in the pilot episode WAS the voice over.

Amber

Imho you are way off base. You can’t just skip through 1945, that is an important part of the story. I enjoyed the voice overs, they did an excellent job of bringing the book to life.

Vicki

Loved the voice over. Read the books, Ms. MILLER, then we’ll talk.

Brandi

Completely agree with this review. I was really disappointed by the first episode, which essentially babies the viewer. I can totally see a great show underneath the ridiculous voiceovers, prophecies, and convenient stereotypes, but I’m not sure if they will realize this. It really felt like I was reading a book, not watching a show.

Misty H

You would need to understand that the first four chapters in the original book are spent in 1945 which lays the important back drop for events that are to come in the series. I can understand the use of voice over as the books are written almost completely in Claire’s voice through the books themselves.

Christine

I actually really liked the voice over, and I liked that they spent a considerable amount of time showing Claire and Frank in the 1940’s. This way we get to see their chemistry together and why, later, Claire is so torn between Jamie and Frank.

Bonnie

I loved the books and had the opportunity to watch the first episode On-Demand. If an individual hasn’t read the books, the voice over provides the background needed to set the rest of the story. My husband has watched me read the books over the last 20 years, but he has never read them. He sat with me to watch the first episode and he found the presentation easy to follow since he didn’t know the story. Sometimes people are just struck on one "way" and need to open their minds to the prospect that the series is for everyone to enjoy – I loved the first episode and can’t wait to watch the rest.

Mickey

Trust me, it was necssary to set the stage for what comes next. Just hang on to your seat, and you will see why.

FreeMarketMaven

LOVE the voiceover, which gives a complexity to Claire that only formed over the course of the books, not right away, as is vital to establishing a character for the screen. After 3 screenings of the pilot episode Ms. Balfe’s acting — on screen and voice over — has brought the story to life in a way that exceeded all my considerable expectations.

Carol

Really Natalia? I saw nothing vicious in these comments. Diana’s fans may be rabid, but we are NOT vicious…lol!

Natalie

The first episode was great, and I love the voice over. It adds a lot to the story that might have been missed otherwise

Natalia

Good. God.
I forgot how vicious Diana Gabaldon’s fans are. Someone has a different opinion to them = they spam the comments thread, insulting the reviewer’s intelligence. Really mature.
It’s not going to make converts of anyone.
I liked – not loved – the book. I prefer the show, but yes, the voiceover made me cringe a few times. The one at the very end made me giggle, and I don’t think that’s what they were aiming for.
The show is good, but the first episode was too slow. I hope it doesn’t turn newbies off.

Anne

I loved this. I love every word of the book and am happy to hear as many as possible. come on , folks! Are you fans? Are you not happy to see this wonderful book on the screen. I cant believe you are complaining about voice over. then don’t watch it. I love it. don’t even think of cancelling it.

LHS

Honestly this was done to be true to the book because of the format of not having any other means of being "true to the book" AND skipping voice over because about 75% of the story takes place inside Claire’s head and she doesn’t say any of it to anyone. She can’t. I for one love the voice over.

Pam Ogle

Read the books. Listen to the interviews.
The VoiceOver provides detail up front. Besides, all the fans want to hear Claire and what she’s thinking. Sounds like sour grapes to me. And if you contribute to getting this cancelled, I would NOT want to be in your shoes, Liz Shannon Miller.

Carla

The story is told in 1st person in the books. The voice-over is a major "character" is the story. It’s crucial. So. why don’t you start reading the books? You would come to the conclusion that this show MUST have a voice-over.

Kristen

I thought the entire episode was amazing!!!!!

Natalie

I loved the voice overs. That’s the way the book is written. This is a horrible review. I’ve waited years for these books to be on the screen and it was amazing just like the books. Read the books.

Stephanie

If you have read the "Outlander" series of books, you know that Claire narrates virtually the entire series – there are few scenes which are not from her point of view. I watched the premiere episode just this evening, and I loved it!!! The voice overs did not bother me at all – in the books, I hear Claire in the narration…

Carol

I loved the narration of Claire in the story. The books are done from Claire’s point of view and unless one is familiar with the books some of it wouldn’t make sense without her narration.

LaRayne Longtine

I thought it was essential to the story so non-readers of the books would understand important points that will be needed in the future. I encourage all to keep with the series. It is fantastic.

Belinda

Claire’s internal monologue is a HIGE part of these books. The only way to translate this to film is through a voice over, it would be an injustice to the books to not include it.

Rhonda

Have you read the books? Claire’s internal monologue is so important. It’s not always to clue people in as it also offers clarification and adds to the general mood. Many of us were concerned this would be lost in a visual representation. As for Frank and Claire, I loved that they gave this part more time. I never felt the love between them as much in the books, but the series has made me more aware,of how difficult her future choice will be. Loved it!!!

Diana

holiday

Terry S. Hewlett

Read the book, that’s what we love is how it is on screen, Read the books.

Suzy

I think it’s necessary. Have you read all the books? They are from Claire’s viewpoint.

Nicole

I adored the voice-over, it made me feel connected to Claire as much as I did in the books. This isn’t a movie, it’s a series, setting the scene for those who haven’t read the books. Carry on Mr Moore, you are doing a fantastic job.

Ann

Good Lord, get over it.. The voice-overs are an important part of this first episode. You say you have read the books – then you know this is new material. It is used to help the viewer understand the depth of feeling between Frank and Claire that was not developed in the books. Really, the voice- overs were never the problem. Trying to be "cutesy" in a review never works either.. "crib death".. very tasteless.

christina

The voiceover may seem like overkill but you need to remember they are trying to cram a very large book into 16 episodes. In order to make sure that folks that haven’t read the book fully understand the story it’s necessary for now. Also I’ve heard that the voices are somewhat off when viewing on I products, and computers.

Teena

I love the voice over as I feel that Claire is talking to me. I would much rather hear what she has to say then try to deduce her thoughts from some long camera angle staring her in the face! Too many movies show the characters face for 3 to 5 seconds and we are suppose to get exactly what she/he is feeling and thinking at the time. Would rather have the words!!!

Bitcoins

I suspect the voiceovers will diminish as time goes on. So much of what happens at the beginning goes on in Claire’s head.

Liz

I guess that beauty is in the eye of the beholder or I must be a simple person but I loved it. I have read almost all of the outlander series and this was very nice I thought. I feel as though because these books are open to each readers interpretation that everyone has a different idea of how this show should be. I look at it all as a gift and I was no at all displeased with any of it. Its funny how all of the arm chair critics materialize. I loved it and thank you.

Amanda C

I thought the first episode was brilliant. The voice over took nothing away from the show in the slightest. Also the time spent in the 1940’s is extremely relevant to the remainder of the story. They could not very well have her time travel 5 minutes in, the relationship with Frank needed to be given consideration. This is not a story where all the action happens at once (which is clear if you have read the books) so I don’t imagine the show being any different.

Maureen Neill

I did not in any way find the voice over unnecessary or offensive. There are always going to be naysayers and critics. Outlander will stand on its own wit out comparison to GOT or Klingons How ridiculous

Fran

I agree the voiceover during the sex scene was a mistake, however that is the only place I found it distracting rather than an enhancement. Seems like you found a mistake and have beat it to death

Kelly

Folks, seriously? She made a pretty valid observation and criticism that isn’t insulting anyone like Miss Vanity Fair did- she said she liked the episodes otherwise; like her, I worry that relying on lame voice overs will turn off new viewers. Hopefully that was the end of them!

Alexandra

Totally agree. The Voiceover is completely unnecessary. Even if a viewer has not read the books, it’s not hard to figure out what happens in this episode. Otherwise it was a very promising first episodes and it’s true that the leads have a lot of chemistry.

Marsha

You’re damned if you and damned if you don’t. Some hardcore fans of this series are already, after ONE episode, complaining about a few things. They would be in an uproar if the voice-over was missing. It’s clear by reading this article that you didn’t follow any of Ronald D. Moore’s interviews in regard to why he chose this series. If you had it wouldn’t be a question in your mind as to why. Plus the point of focusing on 1945 for so long before Claire goes through the stones. Mr. Moore stated that he wanted to show Claire’s relationship with Frank, so that the viewer would have some compassion for Frank. As the series of books goes along we don’t hear Claire’s thoughts as much as we do in the first book.

Kim

The point of voice over is beCause the entire book is told entirely from chairs point of view. And because she cannot voice her thoughts to anyone else especially in 1745. You need that to tell you what she’s thinking because what she is thinking about is integral to who she is and how she survived and why she does. In trying to carry the integrity if the plot you need to know this.

Edie

Well Liz Shannon Miller I guess you have a right to your opinion, but from all the reviews I’ve seen you are definitely in the minority! I’ve read all the books in this series, several times, and watched the 1st episode several times too. I’m enthralled by both and happen to feel the voice-overs add to what’s going on especially for those who probably haven’t read the books. Have you????? I’m glad Ron is in charge.

Cyndi

I think as the story unfolds people will see why there was a need to spend so much time with Claire and Frank in 1945. Also, one of the unique things about the books is that it is told entirely from Claire’s perspective. I think the voice overs are necessary to establishing the rest of the story.

S

As a non-book fan, I thought the first episode was excellent. I wasn’t bothered by the voiceover at all; I thought it helped to understand what Claire was going through internally. If the choice was to just make us look at her facial expressions and try to determine how she was feeling, or to flashforward to her telling her story as an old lady, that was would’ve been criticized as well. I like the show and look forward to more.

Kelly

Most criticisms make me irrationally angry as a fan :) However, this is really spot on- a voiceover or two can be great, but it was such a needless crutch in this episode, which could have so easily stood without them. Kind of like an overly nervous kid who insists on riding with training wheels well beyond the time when he can ride his bike well? Here’s hoping these voiceovers disappear. Through the stones. Never to return.

Nichola Arnott

The fact that you compared Klingons to highlanders proves to me that you don’t know what you are talking about.

Donna Cohrs

Omg! Really? You are obviously not an Outlander book series fan. This series is written in first person narrative style. It is Clairs voice in the series that opens to world of Outlander up to the reader, and now the adaptation. Without her narrative, the complexity of her feelings and insight couldn’t be revealed. A voice over couldn’t work with any series, but this adaptation calls for such. It in No way , degrades the series. Crib death? Seriously? You call this a review? Outlander fans, millions strong, will call this a hatchet job on a long awaited and most loved story! You need to go back to school…at best, change your occupation as you obviously don’t have an open mind, and obviously don’t know what you are dealing with here. I have watched this series grow from beginning to the preview. I have watched the cast become our beloved characters. The Outlander Fans have given birth to this series and will always applaud and celebrate the wonderful world that Diana Gabaldon has created. Ron Moore, cast and crew have created the imagery from our minds. We won’t let a " review " of such blatant ignorance deter us from loving and holding dear, an amazing and complex historical series!

Leah

I love the narration by Claire and appreciate the voice over as it keeps it close to the book.

Kim

I am a faithful fan of 20 years and have no problem with the voice over; it is how the books are written – from Claire’s point of view. So much needs to be covered that cannot be read by the viewer that I believe the voice over will help a new viewer understand easier. I found no fault in the episode and am please that everyone is taking their time letting the story unfold.

Joyce

Editorial note first- It feels very manipulative for only negative comments to be listed until "more comments" is clicked. Not honest at all.
Secondly, the writer of this review apparently has little exposure to various literary styles and especially to Ms. Gabaldon and the Outlander book series. This series features a strong female lead whose mental sharings do much to develop and deepen all aspects of the story. It is disheartening that the reviewer would like this show to follow the pattern of all other shows. Action shows rely on only the visual to convey a story, but Outlander relies on both the visual and intellectual spheres to tell its story, which results in a much richer tapestry.
It is a sad thing to observe that when reviewers judge from their narrow little perches that much of the power of Outlander will never be seen by them.

Barbara

I found nothing wrong with the voiceovers. Loved the first episode. Can’t wait for more. As someone who listens to audiobooks, i actually enjoy the parts where Claire does voiceovers. As far it taking 40 minutes to get to the time travel, it was necessary to establish the relationship between Claire and Frank in order to explain some of her actions later in the story. Perhaps some people don’t have a long enough attention span to wait for a story to build. I for one want as much of the story as I can get to understand the motivations and feelings of the characters. If it means voiceovers and a slower pacing then an action movie then so be it.

Georgia

Oh I get it – you mean like the voice over killed Sex and the City after seven or so years? What’s clear is Claire has infinitely more going on in her head (VoiceOver) then this reviewer has. Great books. Great show. Tune in. Don’t let this hack dissuade you. (That was my VoiceOver on case you missed it)

Spirit1Wind

I loved it….the voice over and all. I think the person who wrote this review has never read the books. The books are written in first person and Claire tells her story. It’s exactly as it should be!! <3

Jocelyn Weagle

I think the voice overs are important for the viewers that have not read the books. It is a lot of chapters to put in one hour increments. I loved the first episode. Even though I have read the books, I was on edge. Very well done

Debbie Knust

I read the books, and thought the voice overs were appropriate. It didn’t cause me to lose interest, it made me look forward to the next scene. I am not a movie critic but I know what I enjoy and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Kim Velker

After having read the books many times. The voice over tells us the story gives us a better understanding in what happened in the past

Heather

If you have bothered to read any of the books, perhaps you would understand the intricate use of the story bring told from Claire’s perspective and inner dialogue. Diana would not have signed on as a consultant if she disagreed with this being done! Your mistake is comparing Outlander to other shoes… It stands alone, there is no comparison! And to simply state that the voice overs are going to "murder" the show, seriously? You are going to make this assumption based on viewing one episode?? Shame on you! You will, no doubt, soon be eating your own words! Do you think that Diana’s 25 million plus fans are not going to watch based on the writing being parallel to the novels?? I read the first book when it came out in 91′ when I was 14, I could not be happier with the first episode! In fact I’ve watched it six times since Saturday! You would be hard pressed to find any different from the fans on many of the social websites … I can’t wait to read another article of yours on this topic at the end of the season!! :)

Susan Van Hoven

I understand what you’re saying about voice overs; however, I have been a fan of these books for over 20 years. Claire’s voice has been in my head all that time like a treasured friend. The characters are written in such a way that the reader experiences them very personally. I think that a majority of the fans would say that the voice over is just the way it should be.

Renny

@Marie While I disagree with Liz Miller’s opinion about the voice over. I think it is a perfectly valid criticism, if it didn’t work for her and has nothing to do with lack of research. (Although I would be interested to know if she viewed more than the first episode and if not I wonder if Miller’s opinion will change as series progress,)
Telling someone to do more research because they disagree with you isn’t helpful. Was there anything factually wrong in what she said, I don’t see. Also I don’t think someone viewing the show should have to read the books to understand any voices they made for adaptation. The shows need to exist as their own entities. I thought it did but accept it won’t be to everyone taste. But I will say to those who haven’t seen it yet, watch it before deciding that only Scorsese has the skill to pull off voice-overs.

jenn

The time spent in 1945 will be more important than you realize. See more of the series before you judge the voiceovers

Dawn Falkner

I have been a fan of Outlander for what seems like forever. I loved it and can’t wait to watch it again. I didn’t mind the voice over as it helped explain things along the way.

pat

books are to long and if not for the voice over’s you wouldn’t know the just of the scene…..there is so much more than what your seeing and why….the voice over’s supply you with the info necessary to understand the characters feelings…..

Peg

I felt the voiceover made the story more intimate and accessible.

Renny

When I heard the voice over in a few of the clips released early I wasn’t sure if I would like but on the whole I thought it works well. Especially the ones during the opening of the show. "Bridge back" one is the only one I found a bit heavy handed but overall I found the whole episode entrancing.

Wanda

I LOVED the voice-overs and everything else about the 1st episode.

Marie

It’s obvious none you leaving a comment read the books or the author of the article. The book was written in Claire’s point of view. IF you had done your research correctly you would know that Claire landed in a strange country with people talking a foreign language (Gaelic) and it’s our insight to her thoughts as she makes her way in the 1700’s with the Highlanders. I am surprised you aren’t upset they didn’t supply you with subtitles for the Gaelic. Surely you don’t speak that either! GO READ THE BOOK!!!

Jennie

IA, the voice overs were distracting & less Frank/Claire Pls

beth

Great sex scene between Tobias menzies and Caitriona Balfe ruined by her voice over grrrrr

jessie

I wanted far more Frankand Claire on screen instead of voice over. I’m not a fan of beefcake I;d rather the sexy English Frank.

BRIANSTORM

I have not seen this show but unless you’re Scorsese, stay away from Voice-overs! Such a crutch for storytelling. There are better ways to get exposition or character development across to the viewer. Thank you for bringing this issue to light!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *