Frazer Hines Returns To The Scottish Highlands In Outlander

Ok, now I feel vindicated when I say “all roads lead back to Doctor Who“. For those who haven’t guessed by now, the longest-running British science fiction series Doctor Who, happens to be my all-time favorite TV series. Further evidence supporting my “all roads” claim came today in the form of the latest casting news for the time travel drama Outlander.

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A FAN FAVORITE RETURNS

I was excited to hear that Frazer Hines, best known for his enduring portrayal as Jamie McCrimmon on Doctor Who, was cast on the new Starz series Outlander, as Sir Gordon Fletcher, the English warden of Wentworth Prison in Scotland.

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YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD SCOT DOWN

James Robert McCrimmon (Jamie to his friends) joined The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) on board the TARDIS after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  Jamie valiantly fought Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti and Ice Warriors alongside the Time Lord – when he and co-stars Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield) and later, Wendy Padbury (Zoe Herriot), weren’t running for their lives that is.

One of the few male companions to grace the TARDIS, Jamie endeared himself to fans as the brave, kilt-wearing young Highlander. Inquisitive, fiercely loyal and devoted to The Doctor, to this day, Jamie is considered one of Doctor Who’s most popular companions.

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Frazer left the series in 1969 in the ten part story The War Games, which introduced the Time Lords, on The Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey. It also saw the departures of Wendy Padbury and Patrick Troughton. The Doctor, placed on trial by the High Council of the Time Lords, was forced to regenerate (into Third  Doctor Jon Pertwee) and exiled to Earth in the 1970’s – his sentence for contravening the First Law of Time. Sadly, Jamie and Zoe were returned to their respective timelines and their memories were wiped. They would no longer remember the adventures they had shared with The Doctor (almost, but not quite as heart-breaking as Donna Noble’s memory wipe, but I digress…).

Jamie was so beloved that Frazer returned to Doctor Who nearly two decades later. He had an all-too-brief cameo in The Five Doctors 20th Anniversary Special (1983), during the Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor) era, and he was reunited with Patrick Troughton in The Two Doctors (1986), during the Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) era.  The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) even uses Jamie’s name in Tooth and Claw (2006).

ALL ROADS LEAD BACK

Author Diana Gabaldon revealed her Outlander books were inspired by Frazer’s portrayal on Doctor Who, and that makes this casting news even sweeter.

As a long-time fan of Doctor Who (and a fan of Jamie’s), I keep hoping for an on-screen reunion between Jamie and the current Doctor. We know how The Doctor hates goodbyes and Jamie isn’t supposed to remember him, but come on, there has to a be remedy for the Gallifreyan Memory Wipe surely?

Jamie does make a welcome return in the BBC sanctioned Doctor Who Big Finish Audios, but, like Sarah Jane Smith (played by the late Elisabeth Sladen), he’s one of those companions we keep hoping will crop back up again in the current series.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing Frazer Hines in future episodes of Outlander.

RECOMMENDED LINKS

For more on the Outlander series of books, visit Diana Gabaldon’s site.

For more on the Big Finish line of audios, please visit their site.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.

Doctor Who returns to our screens on August 23rd.

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Hunky Highlanders, Time Travellers & Fair Ladies, Oh My!

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Ron Moore (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) is back again, this time as the Executive Producer for the Starz Original Series Outlander, starring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

WHAT IT IS 

Outlander (not be confused with the 2008 movie of the same name) is based on the series of (currently 8) novels by Diana Gabaldon. Outlander follows the adventures of Claire Randall (Balfe), a World War II combat nurse. While on a trip to Scotland (near Inverness) with her husband Frank (an academic, played by Tobias Menzies), with whom she has only just been reunited after a 5 year absence, Claire manages to fall through time, 200 hundred years into the past. Right place, wrong timezone. That’ll teach her to roam about an ancient mystical site (stone circle and everything), where only hours before a Samhain ritual had been performed.

Sadly for Claire, she ends up smack dab in the middle of the conflict between the British Redcoats and the Scots in 1743 (one of many leading up to the famous and bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746).

Lost and confused, Claire dodges musket fire and an attempted rape at the hands of Captain Black Jack Randall, a British soldier and nasty piece of work, who happens to look a good deal like someone from Claire’s past (or is it future?) life… hmmm… (having a Dark Shadows flashback, but I digress).

KILTS and BODICE RIPPERS

Twice injured and twice saved by Claire, Jamie Fraser (Heughan), a Scottish rebel, is more than just a little grateful. Luckily in helping Jamie, Claire proves herself useful to his clan, saving her own skin in the process. She can use all the allies she can get in this wilderness. Claire is a rational person, but she knows she’s not in 1945 anymore.

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Sparks fly from the word go between Claire and Jamie (for some reason the words bodice-ripping come to mind whenever he’s on screen) and one can only hope for some steamy scenes involving the pair (hopefully sooner rather than later, please…).

IMPRESSIONS

I found the pace of the first half of the opening episode a bit sluggish. Thankfully, things pick right up once we’re in 1743. Though I found Claire’s voiceover as a plot device, a bit overused, and even jarring at times, I can forgive it. Hopefully, as the series progresses, there’ll be less of a need to telegraph her thoughts in this manner. I did enjoy the references to Celtic magic and pagan rituals, and hope we’ll be seeing more of that as time goes on.

Outlander has all the makings of a successful drama – romance, conflict, beautiful locations, and a strong heroine in Claire. She’s a woman ahead of her time – in both worlds. Even by today’s standards, Claire is intelligent, skilled, passionate, tough, and outspoken. A formidable woman indeed.

From what I’ve heard, fans of the books can rest easy, as the television adaptation (thus far) seems rather faithful.

For more on the Outlander series of books, visit Diana Gabaldon’s site.

For a look at the TV series, check out the official Starz trailer below.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.