Time writer James Poniewozik wrote an article about book adaptations and their translations to the small screen. The article is well thought out and blunt in terms of what the shows’ producers and writers owe to the original audience, and that is nothing. The article uses Outlander to bring up the subject of non-readers versus readers in terms of watching a show, but it also uses the examples of Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, and The Walking Dead. It is inevitable that Outlander will diverge from the books, and we all know that some of us will not be pleased with it and will voice their outrage everywhere.
Thanks to all the fan backlash on that Vanity Fair article on Outlander, the reaction of the fans to that is included as well.
The article also delves into the subject of spoilers. Does a book that has been out for twenty years still need spoiler warnings when discussing what is happening in the show versus the book? That is something that is still being pondered by Outlander TV News as the first episode of Outlander hits the web on Saturday.
All in all, it is an article that you need to read in its entirety. Below are a few quotes from the article.
Speaking as a reader of the books, she’s right–up to a point. If anyone that desperately wants to know what’s coming up in the books, nothing’s stopping them from reading ahead, so I’m not taking a vow of silence. On the other hand, I don’t have to be a jerk about it: in my reviews of GoT–which at this point has started diverging from the books in key ways anyway–I pointedly avoid book spoilage, at least without warning anyone. There are plenty of big forums for book readers to discuss the series with other readers–the AV Club has gone as far as publishing separate “newbies” and “experts” reviews.
People who came to Game of Thrones years after I read the books are not fandom gentrifiers. Our perspectives aren’t inherently better or worse than the other. And the same goes for books vs. their adaptations. As a reader of ASOIAF, HBO owes me preciselynothing–except in the sense that it “owes” me as a subscriber to make any TV series a good TV series. It doesn’t owe me a reproduction of my favorite scenes and storylines. Our default adjective for adaptations is “faithful,” but there’s no breach of faith inherent in changing a story for the screen. There are things I miss in Game of Thrones, but in many ways the streamlining of the vast, digressive story has been an improvement–and in any case, it’s better suited for TV.
I’ve seen six episodes of Outlander, which I’ll review later. I think it has crossover potential, and I didn’t exactly think I needed to turn in my Man Card for watching it. But, to Robinson’s concern, the series itself is a good bit less gauzy than those credits and Bear McCreary theme song suggest.