Do you obsessively rewatch Outlander? You're in good company!

Written By: Janet Reynolds




It was the weekend Outlander episode 4 of season two aired. I was home alone. So many options for this rare moment! What should I do? Curl up with a good book? Catch up with family and friends on my phone? Get a good night's sleep for a change?

All good possibilities. Instead, I obsessively watched and rewatched (four times) Outlander episode 4.

It's a behavior that's not unusual at my house. My rewatching (and rereading) Outlander has reached a point where my husband looks at me periodically with more than a little concern. "But you know what's going to happen?" he says, trying hard not to shake his head but maybe not always succeeding. I simply look at him and say, "You just don't get it."

The good news is that diehard Outlander fans would defend me in a heartbeat and I now have the (semi)scientific proof. I did a survey asking Outlander fans about their TV show viewing habits and the results are clear. Almost 100 percent of respondents rewatch every episode (with one interesting exception) multiple times.

On the one hand, the survey results (hang tight, details are coming!) aren't shocking. You need only spend two minutes online or on any social media to know that Outlander fans are an addicted a dedicated bunch. Facebook has group pages galore with thousands of members (who also belong to more than one group I will add). Twitter is filled with Outlander tweets on minutiae even I find amazing. And Tumblr? Well, Tumblr is its own Outlander rabbit hole, especially for shippers. (Don't know about shippers? Read blogging colleague Anne Gavin's explanation. And a look at one #Obsessenach's personal story, read Holly Richter-White's confessions of an Outlander fanatic.)

But even I was surprised to see the level of Outlander dedication. All told 243 people responded to the survey in the 48 hours it was up. BTW that was with some sharing by my blogging colleagues, two tweets by yours truly and one posting on our blog's Facebook group, Outlander Cast Clan Gathering. (What? You're not a member?? Get thee hence ASAP!) My point is it didn't take much for people to jump in and answer because, oh wait, they're obsessed.

Here's what I found:
(The survey covered season one and two BTW.)

• 98% rewatch Outlander generally (not really sure if that 2% can call themselves real fans but whatever)
• The number of times rewatchers rewatch was fairly evenly divided:
      33% rewatch 1-3 times
      34% 4-7 times
      34% checked the "who can keep count" category

But here's the part that really begins to differentiate Outlander fans. While people certainly rewatch favorite shows, — if they happen to hit on them while scrolling with the remote, for instance, or maybe they even decide to rewatch for some reason — #Obsessenachs start rewatching almost as soon as the last credit rolls. According to the survey:
     29% rewatch within minutes for their first viewing
     25% rewatch on the same day
     33% review within a few days but certainly before the next episode
     22% watch "whenever I need a boost and have free time...."
(Very scientific aside: Being in one category obviously does not mean you can't also be in the last category. Clearly more research is needed.)

Also unique to the Outlander phenomenon: 49% do not typically rewatch other TV shows ever, while 38% say they sometimes do. Regardless of which category they fell into, 87% (!) said they hadn't ever rewatched any other TV show the way they rewatch Outlander. (Starz executives take note! You've got a winner here. Announce you're doing the whole book series for God's sake and put us out of our misery!)

No surprises on what episode respondents rewatched the most. It was "The Wedding" from season one with a solid 67%. "The Reckoning" was next at 10%, followed by "Sassenach" at 8%. The episode that got zero votes for the most rewatching? "Wentworth Prison."

Lots of the TV rewatchers are also Outlander book fans. Nearly 100% (98% if you want to know the exact number) have read at least some of the books, with 74% having read all of them.

And a majority of the survey takers (84%) have also — wait for it — reread the books. Nearly half (48%) have done so 2-3 times, while 35% have reread them 4-6 times and 17% are on 7 reads and counting.



Now fandoms and obsessive behaviors, of course, aren't new. The Beatles? The Monkees? Raise your hand if you or someone you know stood in line for the release of at least one Harry Potter book? Hell, women apparently threw themselves at the 18th century poet Lord Byron.

But this rewatching part of the Outlander cult is clearly unique. I asked members of the Outlander Cast Clan Gathering Facebook group why they rewatch so much. Here are a few of their answers that, I think, sum up what drives all of us in our viewing habits:

• "I have imagined them in my mind so it is fascinating to see them on screen." (Seeing the books come to life came up a lot in explanations.)

• "I can't ever get enough Jamie and Claire. I savor their interactions. Plus, just as in the books but nowhere near as much, I find new details with rereads/rewatches." (A lot of people noted the details explanation.)

• "The first viewing is usually about the story and on subsequent viewings I focus more on the incredible costumers and scenery — all so marvelously detailed...there is always some detail or facial expression that I didn't fully appreciate the first time."

• "Why have another bite of dessert even though you're not hungry anymore? Because it's so darn enjoyable. Then after listening to a few podcasts, I have to watch again to catch points they mentioned that I missed. And then perhaps another bite of dessert." (Shameless plug. We assume you're listening to Outlander Cast with Mary and Blake, right? Link at the bottom of the blog.)

And my personal favorite:

• "It's escapism. It's my happy place where the troubles of the real world (which at times can be many and very difficult) disappear into the background. The show is so all encompassing, with the plot, characters, cinematography, costumes and music, that it blocks out the real world. I can pretend for a time that I'm Claire and have Jamie there to protect me. Plus their problems are so far removed from mine that I can't identify and take on their stress. I can just watch and enjoy and take strength from their strength. If they can get through, so can I."

So to all the questioning/concerned significant others/friends/family members out there wondering if your person-of-concern is off the deep end with Outlander, the short answer is "yes." But the good news is she's not the only one.


Are you an obsessive Outlander rewatcher? What's the most you've rewatched an episode? What's your favorite episode to rewatch? Are you rewatching more this season than last? Share the details! You're among friends here!

31 comments

  1. Bless me, Mother, for I am an Obsessanach. It's been four hours since my last opportunity to sneak a chapter. I plan to watch an episode later, after dinner.

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    1. Haha. So awesome. All is forgiven my child. 😏

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  2. The only episode of Outlander that I have not watched more than once was The Search. I really thought that one was a total waste of an hour. C'mon...no Jamie??

    The only thing I liked about it was watching the trust growing between Claire and Murtaugh.

    I was very surprised to read that Wentworth Prison was not rewatched by the group being surveyed.

    I must've watched that one about six times as I couldn't get enough of the riveting acting from all three of the leads.

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    1. Linda the Search scored fairly low too. I was also surprised about Wentwotth. Even though the subject matter was tough the acting was riveting.

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  3. I watch the first time for the overall program, then subsequently with special attention to
    -costumes
    -sets
    -music
    -while listening to Ron's podcast
    -to catch details I may have missed the first 5 times.

    Now, as to rewatching movies or TV shows, I know that there are some of these that men (or women) will watch over and over and over, even though they know what's going to happen and how things will come out. My hubby watches "Tora Tora Tora" every time it's on. I think there maybe viewers who will watch "Die Hard" or its sequels repeatedly. Those are just a couple of examples. Ron Moore watches Seinfeld every day. Isn't there a movie or TV show (perhaps in reruns or syndication) that your own husband rewatches, Janet?

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    1. Ron Moore watches Seinfeld every day! Thanks for that tidbit....interesting. My husband has seen ALL the James Bond films a million times. (And yes he can recite dialogue :) )
      The difference is that he doesn't seek it out the way Outlander fans do--at least that's what I see as a major difference. I think Outlander fans are more active in their rewatching rather than having it show up while scrolling with the remote and then staying to watch. What do you think?

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  4. Obsessed is probably not a strong enough word to describe me. I watch via Amazon Prime and I will stay up to watch it as soon as it is available at midnight (and, yes, I will still immediately watch it again regardless of the time). Then I'll watch it again and probably again later in the day on Saturday. THEN I get to binge watch with DH who catches up on episodes. Why do I do this?? The first viewing I'm devouring it so fast that I can't possibly process all of my thoughts and emotions. As a book reader, I can't help but compare the two. My first viewing will be pure emotions - did they portray the scenes the way I imagined? If so, then I rewatch so I can savour those feelings. If not, then I have to process what just happened so I rewatch in an attempt to get my adaptation feelings under control. After that second viewing, it's all about the details...Jamie/Sam's emotional Adam's Apple, Claire/Cat's expressive chin, etc.

    Is this normal for me....absolutely not. If you took Outlander out of my life, I would not be considered a TV or Book fan at all. Outlander is the only show I've ever watched religiously. Even the recent shows I've binged watched (Poldark and Reign) are because of the historical connections to Outlander. I've never listened to a podcast in my life until Outlander and now I can't wait to hear Blake's thoughts!

    Needless to say my family and friends think I have lost my mind...and I probably have. My response...DG (and Ron) has given us a rare story and I have loved it well!

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    1. Kelly my family and friends would likely have a lot to talk about with your family and friends about this obsession thing. They are confused as well. I have never been like this about anything else! I rewatch for all those details too--and there are so many! Who could catch all that's interesting in just a couple of viewings! I'm a Poldark fan too--read the books twice (excellent BTW if you haven't read) and watched the original series a few times. Am not loving this rendition as much as the original but....yes I'm watching it :) Haven't heard of Reign. Do you recommend?

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  5. I should have added that I rewatch all the Wentworth scenes as they are my favorite next to the Wedding. I just can't watch those as often because they are so intense.

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    1. You are braver than me, Kelly (and most of our survey takers). The acting is indeed superlative but boy they are hard to watch, especially Ransom. I also have to say that in this case I like how the book handled bringing Jamie back more than the show. I think the way Claire let him use her to claw his way back was so breathtaking--and then of course the grotto scene. But I totally get that TV is a different medium and I do think they are doing the whole PTSD reaction more realistically in the show....so I just enjoy them both. A LOT. :)

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  6. Obsessed is probably not a strong enough word to describe me. I watch via Amazon Prime and I will stay up to watch it as soon as it is available at midnight (and, yes, I will still immediately watch it again regardless of the time). Then I'll watch it again and probably again later in the day on Saturday. THEN I get to binge watch with DH who catches up on episodes. Why do I do this?? The first viewing I'm devouring it so fast that I can't possibly process all of my thoughts and emotions. As a book reader, I can't help but compare the two. My first viewing will be pure emotions - did they portray the scenes the way I imagined? If so, then I rewatch so I can savour those feelings. If not, then I have to process what just happened so I rewatch in an attempt to get my adaptation feelings under control. After that second viewing, it's all about the details...Jamie/Sam's emotional Adam's Apple, Claire/Cat's expressive chin, etc.

    Is this normal for me....absolutely not. If you took Outlander out of my life, I would not be considered a TV or Book fan at all. Outlander is the only show I've ever watched religiously. Even the recent shows I've binged watched (Poldark and Reign) are because of the historical connections to Outlander. I've never listened to a podcast in my life until Outlander and now I can't wait to hear Blake's thoughts!

    Needless to say my family and friends think I have lost my mind...and I probably have. My response...DG (and Ron) has given us a rare story and I have loved it well!

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  7. When I reread the books I find more details, nuances of story, a greater understanding of DG's writing style. When I watch the episodes, then rewatch, I see more, the facial expressions, for example, when Jamie is trying to explain to Claire about Annalise, he does such an innocent little boy blink, that I have rewatched that moment multiple times. It's an inspired piece of acting. And that's the thing... the acting is beyond flaws, it's as though I'm there, as with the books. Then there are the costumes! Terry has the perfect eye for detail, the costumes lift Outlander way and above any other series I have ever watched. The sets are magnificent, too. I have never watched any series where such attention to detail exists. So, Outlander is the complete package. That's why I reread and rewatch, and I don't see that ending any time soon. Am I obsessed? I think that the Outlander books and the series are second to none and I mean NONE.So yes, I'm obsessed... and proud to be so.

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    1. Louise
      I am with you on the quality and how that's a draw for both rereading the books and rewatching the show. The acting nuances are also impressive. I really think the three main characters--Sam, Cait and Tobias--have grown as actors as they've inhabited their roles. Do you agree? And having two mediums to enjoy Gabaldon's amazing work is just a plus as far as I'm concerned!

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  8. When I reread the books I find more details, nuances of story, a greater understanding of DG's writing style. When I watch the episodes, then rewatch, I see more, the facial expressions, for example, when Jamie is trying to explain to Claire about Annalise, he does such an innocent little boy blink, that I have rewatched that moment multiple times. It's an inspired piece of acting. And that's the thing... the acting is beyond flaws, it's as though I'm there, as with the books. Then there are the costumes! Terry has the perfect eye for detail, the costumes lift Outlander way and above any other series I have ever watched. The sets are magnificent, too. I have never watched any series where such attention to detail exists. So, Outlander is the complete package. That's why I reread and rewatch, and I don't see that ending any time soon. Am I obsessed? I think that the Outlander books and the series are second to none and I mean NONE.So yes, I'm obsessed... and proud to be so.

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  9. I'm definitely an Obsessenach-- agree with everything in the article! Yes, I re-watch episodes numerous times, usually right away (it's nice to know that I'm not alone, and not insane!!). (I don't re-watch other shows, only OL). There's something about Outlander that takes me away from my usual logical intellectual self (I'm a highly educated, high powered, highly-stressed senior executive in real life-- Outlander allows be to be a gooey, mushy, girly romantic. So I gues I agree with the comment that for me it is escapism from my everyday life and stresses).
    The only episode I haven't watched many times is The Search (I found it too depressing, and an episode without Jamie is not enjoyable for me). I have watched Wentworth many times as I am blown away by the acting. As per the survey, the episodes I've re-watched most are indeed The Wedding and The Reckoning (I guess it's obvious that those episodes had the most intense and explicit sex scenes of the entire series-- but that's not the only reason. I think of all the Outlander episodes, The Reckoning was the most exciting in every way. Every moment of it had me on the edge of my seat. And the Wedding was the most romantic). Generally, I think OL has the best sex scenes ever made in the history of film. As many times as I've seen them, it's still hard to believe they're actually so good. There's something mesmerising and magical about Sam & Cait as Jamie & Claire-- and their interaction on screen is absolutely riveting. It makes the Outlander show unique, in my view-- casting those two was the single biggest accomplishment of the show. I'm happy to watch them over, and over, and over, and over....!

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    1. I agree with you completely. I watch, read, re watch, re-read over and over and this has never happened to me before. I was worried that something is wrong with me but seeing that so many other people share this obsession really helps to make me feel normal! Or else we're all crazy but in very good company!!! I do think it's the escapism that keeps so many of us obsessed with it. And I find DG's writing amazing.

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    2. I agree with so much of what Londonite and Judy say here. The Search was also pretty iffy for me. It was fun but not gripping, which is what most of the other episodes are for me. And the sex! Ohdeargod yes! It's sex from a woman's perspective for one thing (in the books and in the show) so what's not to love! How rare is that? (You might enjoy this post I wrote on that: http://outlandercastblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/outlander-and-lady-porn.html.

      The Reckoning was also the episode in season one that I think really nailed it for action, building their relationship, plot, oh and then the make-up sex. :)

      We are so lucky the show has been so true to the books' wonderful arcs.

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  10. I live in Outlander land in my head all the time. I peak out to do the usual mundane things, but it's always always in the back of my mind.I watch and rewatch and in between it's running in my head. I love Jamie and Claire and now that my Jamie is old and is unable to be that Jamie for me, I relive those wonderful times with Jamie and Claire.

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    1. This is such a wonderful response. I think a lot of us live in Outlander land and that this is completely fine---very good coping mechanism when life gets a little too real if you know what I mean. Thank you for reading and sharing.

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  11. I love the comment that" I live in Outlander land all the time."
    I have to admit that I too dwell in that wonderful place.
    I have actually dreamed of the characters in Outlander. (the series)
    And yes I have questioned my sanity.
    My family have questioned it as well but the consensus seems to be "Oh leave her alone,it's harmless. It has also solved gift giving for the men in my life...no more gift certificates for Chapters or iTunes! I get outlander throws from Think Geek, Claire rings and cowls plus the calendar and colouring book! And Mother's Day brought me a scotch on the rocks mousepad and keyring.
    I have loved the books since the late nineties when I first read them and I am thrilled that the series is so excellent. The changes in the series don't really bother me although for awhile I did feel that Jamie was being shown as immature for a lot of the show after the wedding. I welcomed the expansion of Frank's character as I never bought the idea that Claire would hesitate for a second between choosing Jamie over Frank.
    I am finding it difficult to see Claire being so manipulative but I have faith in the writers to bring her back to the Claire that I love in the books.
    Going back to the original question...I rewatch each ep umpteen times but now I fast forward to the Jamie scenes mainly. I am fascinated by the acting "tells" that Sam chooses. He, more than any other on the show, reminds me of his counterpart in the book.
    As to my favourite? The Wedding and The Reckoning for sure are right up there but I have pretty much loved them all but The Search.

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    1. Linda
      I know exactly what you mean about family and friends what's going on. But hey! It's less fattening than chocolate! I, too, am a solid book fan who has no trouble with the TV show. It's a different medium and they have to do certain things differently as a result. Besides I can always go back and reread a certain book if I need to get my "authentic" fix. I really think Sam in particular has grown as an actor the longer he's played Jamie. And I agree re The Wedding and the Reckoning, although I wrote a post about why I think the Reckoning is the best episode. Let me know what you think.

      http://outlandercastblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/whats-best-season-one-outlander-episode.html

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  12. Thanks, Janet, for the link. I hadn't read that review before. I loved The Reckoning also and for many of the same reasons you explained. What I really appreciated was the characterization of Jamie as problem solver. That motif appears over and over, not only in this episode but throughout the books as well. Jamie is a man who gets on with it...he didn't want to punish Claire but he knew if he didn't someone else would (ie: Dougal) and it wouldn't be a punishment that Claire would be able to come back from easily. So he solved the problem. Jamie is a leader, a man who quietly deals with issues. He doesn't wring his hands and moan...he acts. He does something. That is one reason I admire the character. I am also drawn to this kind of person in life!
    His scenes with Collum were brilliant, in my opinion. You can see that he is bound to give deference to the Laird but he is also a man comfortable enough in his own estimation to dare to give advice. The outtakes from this episode on the dvd were very revealing in this matter. In one of them, Collum takes Jamie to task for marrying a Sassenach (as he does in the show) but he goes on to say that it's not a real problem as the times are quite dangerous for English people in Scotland. Jamie quite rightly takes that as a threat against Claire and with his famous jaw jutting toward Collum, he makes it clear that he would not hesitate to protect Claire from anyone, including the Laird of Leoch. Collum then says dryly...spoken like a true Laird.
    Personally, I would love to have more of the episodes from Jamie's pov. And from social media it does seem as though the last episode may well be from Jamies viewpoint.

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  13. I first read the books starting in the mid-90s and was completely blown away by the characters and story lines. Fairly safe to say JAMMF was my first, and really only true, book boy-friend. :) I have re-read the book series a few times and have re-listened to all of the audio books, too. (By the way, book series narrator Davina Porter is FABulous!)

    I missed the survey, but am an obsessive re-watcher of episodes immediately and usually multiple times during the week. And I can't even quantify the re-watching during Droughtlander! I re-watch for many of the same reasons already mentioned, but above all it's because I get completely lost in the episodes. They are extraordinarily rich in performances, costumes, set design....just such incredible attention to detail that makes for The. Best. Escape. Ever!

    Over and over and over and over....

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    1. Brenda--first I want to say I don't know how you did it--starting to read the books in the mid-'90s AND HAVING TO WAIT FOR DIANA GABALDON FOR YEARS TO FINISH THE NEXT BOOK!!! AND NO TV SHOW TO HOLD YOU THROUGH!!! I seriously don't know what I would have done. I discovered the first book and four months later had finished all 8 for the first time.....apparently while still working and living with my family :)

      I am trying the audiobooks now and totally agree with your assessment of Davina Porter. Dear god she is wonderful.

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  14. Janet & all of You Ladies with you all the way,yes a bit obsessed with OL having read the books number of times always find something new in them!I really like the series also,it may differ fr the book a bit,but RDM&Co. know what they are doing,not me.Watched all episodes at least twice,the wedding countless times & ep.15&16 at least 4 times as the acting fr.Sam&Tobias was brilliant.With the new season watched it all at least twice,wonderful escapism it certainly helps me with RL.I must say this season casting again is just spot on & I'm so grateful for Sam&Cait!

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    1. Zsuzsip---yes the casting is right on the money--even the more minor characters are so wonderful. Angus! Rupert! Mrs. Fitz! The list could go on. Ron Moore et al are doing a great job adapting the books. We are lucky indeed.

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  15. Good to know I've not lost what's left of my mind and am not the only one who can watch multiple times even tho' I record it as well. Read all the books in 4 months..couldn't put them down. Never before have I had books or TV series affect me as Outlander has and I am OLD ! Had a 60 yr marriage to a man much like Jamie in his personality and goodness so seeing him with Claire makes me miss love. Everyone is right--it is total escape and the best yet.

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    1. Annie--I, too, zipped through the books (for the first time) in four months. Could NOT put them down. Rereading has been fun because I was more relaxed--I knew all would end well eventually. :) It was fun to catch new details in the second read. As for rewatching.....well I did the survey purely to be able to let my hubby know I was not the only one! How lucky you were to have a real life Jamie! :)

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  16. I watch each new episode 3 times in a row. Then I listen to several podcast and watch again. Then I watch as my two adult daughters watch separately (one a book reader, the other one not) to see their reactions and discuss. I am a multiple time book reader since the first season

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  17. Starbuck
    You've got me beat! But I totally understand your devotion. The books and the show are just that good!

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  18. Outlander is by the far the guiltiest pleasure I have ever known! Your blog tickled me silly not just because it’s hilarious, oh it is, but because I too am an Obsessanach! Reassuring to be in such good company. My husband has been nagging for years to visit the highlands and after watching Outlander, I’m convinced. He’s thrilled (secretly as am I) though a castle stay may be a stretch from his proposed b&b in a pub. He made some changes to accommodate my obsession by installing a tv in our bedroom so I can indulge as much as I like. I have the theme song stuck in my head and it creeps into conversations at any opportunity in a personal bid to convert er everyone, I should be on commission. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched the first series, though tend to skip The Search and Wentworth Prison episodes. Wasn’t as taken with the second series, I still managed to watch it three times, preferring when they return to Scotland. Particularly appreciate the beautiful costumes, the amazing castles lit by candlelit, roaring fires, the music, the fights, the horses romping over the lush countryside and I confess the acting is rather convincing, kudos. In my bid to come to terms with the long wait between now and the next series and my slight obsession with Sam Heughan, I stumbled across a snippet of his live performance in “Plague over England” and now I’m scarred for life ~ no Jamie no! What was he thinking?!? My main concern now, having not yet read the books but have put a request in with Father Christmas, is how the feel of the series will translate from the Scottish Highlands to the new world of Jamaica. With any luck, as I’m sure other Obsessanach’s will concur, it should offer plenty of scope for Jamie stripped of his clothes. Good thinking Diana Gabaldon!

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