Outlander season 3: On book adaptations, looks behind the scenes

book adaptationsToday’s Outlander story begins with an interesting discussion of one of the show’s most challenging jobs: Adapting source material. Diana Gabaldon’s novels are rich and rather lengthy; Voyager in particular is a massive work of literature, so trying to adapt that into a single season of television feels like quite the challenge.

Nonetheless, this is one that the writers/producers were eager apparently to take on. What we find interesting is showrunner Ronald D. Moore’s comments (per Digital Spy) that there were at one point considerations to adapt Voyager into more than one season — these thoughts were brief, but they were still out there:

“We didn’t go too far down that road. We did talk about that before we approached the season, because in terms of page counts, it’s the biggest of the books and you automatically feel like this may be too much material for one season … But once we put the cards up on the board, we could see that there were five episodes just in the Jamie (Sam Heughan) story and then the reunion of the two characters [Jamie and Claire, played by Caitriona Balfe].

“Now you’re almost halfway through the season and that felt like about the right pace. When you really boiled it down to what the story was, and the character relationships, we realized we could tell this in just one season. I don’t think we were tempted to try to stretch it beyond that.”

What is interesting to us about this is how, at least superficially, we could see ways that you could have expanded Voyager beyond these thirteen episodes via an expanded season, or more than one season as a whole. With thirteen episodes, there are almost sure to be some cuts here and there — but the same could be said about any adaptation.

One of the problems that comes with extending a show beyond a single season, if Outlander had decided to do that, is that you make it all the more challenging to get all of the source material on the screen in a reasonable amount of time. If you were to do a season of Outlander for every book in Gabaldon’s series, there would be ten seasons of it by the end — that’s a lot for a cable series, especially one on a pay TV model. That would likely expand outward if you were to stretch some of the books beyond a season, unless of course you opted to shorten another book on the screen and combine it with another.

Moore notes in this piece that there aren’t necessarily plans to stick with the one-book-per-season model forever, which means that there could be more flexibility down the road. We could see this changing slightly down the road when Outlander becomes a little bit more about an ensemble as opposed to just the journey of Jamie and Claire. The show could end early, or mix together multiple books into a year. It’s a little scary and unpredictable to think that far down the road. For now, we’re good on Starz until season 4, and we’re hoping for at least a season 5.

Other worthwhile reading

If you love looks behind the scenes, there is an excellent piece over at Marie Claire that presents all sorts of interesting stuff — both in terms of how the show tries to replicate the period and also the story of Outlander itself. It’s hard to share much of it out of context here, but we do like to highlight interesting and notable show-related stuff in these pieces.

Want more Outlander news?

One story we suggest that you check out is over at the link here, given that this is where you can see some new Caitriona Balfe – Sam Heughan videos! (Photo: Starz.)

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