Fans have been eagerly awaiting Ronald D. Moore’s return to television for years now. Regardless of how you felt about the show’s ending, there’s no question that Moore and company accomplished something amazing with the Battlestar Galactica reboot, proving once again that there is an audience out there for smart, complex science fiction drama…if only the powers that be will actually greenlight it (and not put it on Fox). But of all the shows Moore could have chosen for his return to the small screen, I never would have guessed he would pick a time-traveling romance series about a World War I nurse dropped into 18th century Scotland. Yet here comes Outlander.
Based on author Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series, Outlander is the tale of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), who passes out near some mysterious standing stones, only to awaken, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court-style, two centuries earlier in “an unknown world where her freedom and very life are at risk.” Soon she finds her loyalty to her 20th-century husband strained when she’s force to marry a strapping Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Even if Claire can find a way back to her native time, will she still want to return when that would mean giving up the hot dude in the kilt? Time will tell.
Since Spartacus put Starz on the map as a source for quality TV drama, the network has proved particularly adept at handling period pieces, ranging from the Renaissance intrigue of Da Vinci’s Demons to the swashbucking of Black Sails. Outlander fits squarely inside their wheelhouse, and with a built-in audience from the books, it’s about as close to a sure-fire hit as Starz is likely to find. (Also, Starz likes sex. Lots and lots of sex, which I’m told the books have in spades.) What will be interesting to see is if people like me — indifferent to the books, but a fan of Moore — will tune in and stick around for the long haul. The show definitely wouldn’t be on my radar without the Moore connection, but I’m hoping it will surprise me and win me over.
Outlander series premiere, entitled “Sassenach,” airs this Saturday night, August 9, at 9/8c on Starz. Too impatient to wait? You can watch the first episode online right here.
Star Wars Rebels: First Look (Disney XD, 8:45/7:45c)
Get a first look at the new Star Wars animated series…specifically the first seven minutes of the series premiere. The full series is due to premiere later this fall on Disney XD, before shifting over to the Disney Channel for the bulk of its run.
Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “In the Dark”
When Barbie and Sam set out to investigate a mysterious tunnel, a cave-in severs their path back to Chester’s Mill. Meanwhile, Julia and Big Jim face off in a struggle for power as a dust storm rages in the town.
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Ancient Aliens”
The first individual Spotlight Challenge of Season 7 revolves around the world’s great wonders and the ancient aliens that may have helped build them.
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Wil vs. Hedorah”
Wil looks at the ABC fantasy competition The Quest.
Extant (CBS, 10/9c) — “What on Earth Is Wrong?”
When the validity of Molly’s pregnancy comes into question, John begins to doubt her mental state. Meanwhile, Ethan suffers a serious setback, and John and Julie clash over how to care for him. Josh Malina guest stars as Doctor Beck who treats Molly.
How the Universe Works (Science, 9/8c) — “Saturn”
Exploring the potential for life on Saturn’s moons.
Defiance (Syfy, 8/7c) — “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”
Amanda intervenes when Nolan tries to deal with a terrorist in Defiance.
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c & 10/9c)
‘Laws of Attraction’ – The MythBusters use sexy science to tackle five captivating clichés about the laws of attraction, including whether men really do prefer blondes, if pheromone sprays really work, if bigger boobs equal bigger tips, and whether a man’s wealth really woos women.
‘Traffic Tricks’ – The MythBusters tackle some congestion questions: whether a roundabout (or rotary) is better than a 4-way stop sign, whether it’s faster to drive than fly when your trip is under 400 miles, and whether it’s better to change lanes or stay put in heavy traffic.
Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “A Thing With Feathers”
The 2nd Mass picks up the pieces after a devastating alien attack leaves Maggie fighting for her life…and Hal fighting for Maggie. Meanwhile, Tom and Dingaan (guest star Treva Etienne) are cut off from the rest of the group, buried under tons of rubble, where they must rely on an Enemy Ship to rescue them. Mira Sorvino guest-stars.
The Last Ship (TNT, 9/8c) — “Two Sailors Walk Into a Bar”
With Chandler and Tex caught in a dangerous situation, Slattery has to step into the role as commanding officer. Torn between a mission with the fate of the world at stake and a Captain (and friend) in danger, Slattery has to find a way to get his people back without losing the most important asset: the vaccine prototype.
The Leftovers (HBO, 10/9c) — “Solace for Tired Feet”
After learning his father has escaped the psychiatric hospital, Kevin (Justin Theroux) orders an APB to track him down. Jill (Margaret Qualley) attempts to break an endurance record. Holed up in Indiana, a disillusioned Tom (Chris Zylka) makes an unsettling discovery.
The Lottery (Lifetime, 10/9c) — “Genie”
Vanessa has second thoughts about the lottery, and consults Darius and the president about shifting control of it back to the government. Later, Vanessa and Darius discover the culprit behind the diplomat’s kidnapping and death; and Kyle is quarantined.
Manhattan (WGN, 10/9c) — “The Hive”
The loss of one of their own leaves the community reeling; and new security measures interfere with the work being performed by the scientists.
Masters of Sex (Showtime, 10/9c) — “Giants”
The study costs Masters his ob/gyn practice. Johnson struggles with DePaul.
The Strain (FX, 10/9c) — “Runaways”
With Nora gone, Eph reluctantly joins Setrakian’s quest in hopes of gathering enough evidence to warrant a citywide quarantine. Fet encounters the unexpected inside the subway tunnels, and a medical emergency threatens Palmer’s master plan.