Starting in 2014, Ronald D. Moore will have two science fiction TV shows on the air. While Moore spearheaded a number of shows after Battlestar Galactica said goodbye in 2009, he has yet to produce another hit TV series. Next year Moore will have two hopefully successful shows on the air. The first is Helix, a sci-fi thriller set in the Arctic, and the other is Outlander, a romance set in 18th Century Scotland with time travel elements. Although Helix caters to the Syfy audience, Outlander has the potential to be a huge mainstream success because the book series it’s based on has a loyal following.
In an interview with Vulture, Moore talks about the troubles of adapting a book series that has a gigantic following, specifically Diana Gabaldon’s ongoing Outlander series. Moore is trying to balance what’s on the page to translate it to the small screen. The key for Moore is to stay as faithful to the source material as possible to please the fan base, which is decidedly different from BSG and Star Trek‘s. Moore says:
It doesn’t feel like a radically different thing to deal with. Yes, it’s women, a lot of women of a certain age. These are not young kids. But as fans? It doesn’t feel any different… The book is our bible, and we try to just stick with it. Our job is to realize this material. I’ve never seen [it being] my job to make my version of Outlander.
Outlander is a series that has time travel elements, but according to Moore, the series will not play heavily in time paradoxes or science fiction. The series will not have any big questions about changing the future once one of its protagonists travels back to 18th Century Scotland. Again, Moore emphasizes staying true to the book series. He continues:
One of the things I did like about this is that Diana doesn’t go anywhere near that. She doesn’t raise the paradoxes of it. Have I affected history? Will this change the future? She just doesn’t do it. It doesn’t interest her, and I’m happy to not have it as part of the show, because once you start that conversation, it does become a science-fiction show and the dominoes of history. You’d want to cut to Frank and see if history had changed. So it’s nice, actually, that it’s not on the table. Claire just goes [back in time] and she just lives her life.
While Moore is busy preparing for two new TV shows in 2014, he will always be known as the guy who created one of the best science fiction TV shows of all-time with BSG, but he was unable to stick the landing in its series finale. For some BSG fans, the finale was too ambiguous and disappointing (especially with Starbuck’s fate), while others feel it was appropriate and consistent with the entire series. Moore still gets asked if he considers the BSG finale to be disappointing. Moore says:
I thought about it. We talked about it at length in the writers’ room, and I didn’t hear something that I liked. I liked the idea, conceptually, that her fate was ambiguous because, conceptually, we were tying her to whatever the power was that didn’t like to be called God and was involved from the inception. From the miniseries on, there’s definitely something else going on in this story, and it’s unknowable. I kind of felt like it should be unknowable. It felt wrong to give it a neat answer on something that was so profound and existential about these people and this situation.
Outlander will follow the character Jamie Fraser and his love affair with a married World War II-era combat nurse named Claire Randall, who is mysteriously sent back in time to the year 1743. Outlander is based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series, first released in 1991. So far there have been seven installments in the ongoing Outlander book series, with the eighth expected for release in March 2014.
The TV series is genre-bending with elements of romance, time travel, and historical fiction, so it will probably play like a mixture of Game of Thrones, The Tudors, and Highlander, but with time travel. Considering the popularity of the above TV shows, and with Ron Moore’s name attached, Outlander seems like it will be a sure-fire hit.
Outlander will premiere on the Starz Network with 16 episodes for its first series sometime in 2014.