Loyalty, book adaptations. How far do you support something based on it’s origins, rather than it’s own merits? Ideally I think most of us would say that we wouldn’t do that, we either like something or we don’t–not because of any prior bias. For myself, I can admit that I do give weight to that bias and it makes me feel guilty, twofold: If I’m giving the project more leeway than I normally would because of the story it was adapted from, that’s not a fair judgement. By the same token, if I don’t like it as much as I feel that I should, that somehow feels disloyal to the original story. Sometimes the differences between “original” and “adapted” bother me, while other times they don’t. I guess it depends on whether I think they’ve improved upon the original story or even branched off far enough that it’s become it’s own unique telling. What has me in this particular frame of mind currently is the Starz television drama Outlander.
As I’ve stated previously in former posts, I’m a long-time fan of the Outlander novels. Yet, I’ve struggled with my impressions of the television version. Character portrayals, plot changes, and even minor historical or logistical differences have stood out to me like a sore thumb. I want to over look them, just go with the flow and enjoy seeing my beloved story on screen…but I can’t. It’s not that I hate the show, I would probably really enjoy it if I had no prior Outlander knowledge; I hate being one of those “in the book” people but in this case I am. I think it’s time to own that for myself.
There were many “in the book” people who didn’t like The Hobbit movies. I could understand their complaints but I had no problem enjoying the movies on their own merit…sort of. I really liked the first movie, An Unexpected Journey. And it was through my love of that movie that I became enamored with one of it’s leading men, Richard Armitage. The second movie in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, had a different tone to it than the first but I liked it well enough. By the third and final film, The Battle of the Five Armies, I was left questioning how deep my bias might actually be. Looking back, I’m thinking that it was my investment in certain characters that pulled me along, instead of an overall affinity for the films themselves. The second series of the Star Wars films can fit into this category as well. The original three were, and still are, a nostalgic part of my childhood. The last three were only watched for Ewan McGregor–and by the third film, even he could hardly get me through it.
I always carry some kind of bias with me in regards to book and film series, tending to see them as a whole instead of their individual parts. I can’t help but have positive (or negative) slants regarding actors, directors, screenwriters, etc. before I even view a film for the first time; it’s unavoidable, really. Sometimes that bias helps and sometimes it hinders but most of the time I can see the forest for the trees. On the occasions that I can’t though, do I keep trying in hopes that some switch will suddenly be flipped, or just bow out while I’m ahead?
I’ve pretty much bowed out with the continuing book series of Outlander, for instance (I adore volumes 1-4 but I gave up after number 6) but I think it’s easier to let go of a book series than a television one, for some reason. It’s so easy to binge watch things these days, which can be an entirely different experience than hanging on week to week. I’m a big fan of the television series Lost but was not an original watcher. I binge watched the series during the summer before the final season aired, and fell in love with it. Waiting week to week during that last season though was torture! Considering how different some of the seasons were from each other, and how many of the storylines never came to fruition, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it if I had watched in real time.
I think I’ve hung on this long with the Starz version of Outlander out of obligation: so many of my family and friends know my love for the story and look to me for opinions about it. so much so that I think some of them were surprised that I didn’t visit the real life sites when I went to Scotland last summer. I won’t say the characters and situations didn’t cross my mind on my travels but Scotland isn’t Jamie Fraser to me. I guess the question is: how much of Outlander-Starz, is?