Sunday, July 06, 2014

Outlander and American Gods: Books to TV

I was really thrilled to read the news that Starz (the U.S. premium cable network) is developing a show based on the Neil Gaiman book American Gods. I loved that book and think it will make a great series. It melds mythology, fantasy, and social criticism to great effect--here’s my blog post about it.

Apparently the project has been kicking around for a while, with HBO working on it at one point before handing it off to Starz. I admit to being pretty vague on how these deals transpire, and I don’t really care how they get done, as long as someone good is in charge and we eventually get to see a show. As of yet I could find no dates for when it might air.

Starz is also developing a miniseries based on Outlander, the series of books by Diana Gabaldon. These genre-bending books are set (mostly) in the 18th century, first in Scotland and later in the U.S., and they combine an epic romance and time travel with traditional historical fiction. Back before I had this blog I read the first four books in the series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn) but then lost steam. The eighth book just came out and the show premiers in August, 2014. Here's a link to the Starz website where you can watch a couple of trailers and see photos of the actors and locations.

Author Gabaldon is closely involved in the show’s production, and the showrunner is Ron Moore, who produced the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I have really high hopes for this series. Moore knows how to make immersive television and he’s a feminist, which I find reassuring, given that these books (especially the earlier ones) can be troublesome in the way they deal with domestic violence and rape. Let’s hope he can steer clear of some of the issues that have plagued the Game of Thrones TV adaptation.

Both Outlander and American Gods have huge installed fan bases, so the pressure is on to do these well. I know some Outlander fans who are very nervous and not sure if they will even watch. Interestingly, a trailer on the Starz website addresses this concern head on, with both Moore and Catriona Balfe (Claire) promising not to screw it up.

As for myself, I have been really satisfied with recent book-to-TV adaptations (Game of Thrones and Case Histories come to mind as successful adaptions of books that I loved), and I really enjoyed the Starz version of The White Queen that I watched last year. I love good stories no matter how they are delivered: via books, television, plays, or movies, so I’m just happy to get more of them.


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