It’s official ladies and gents. Outlander has been renewed for seasons 3 AND 4. I know it was a seemingly long wait, but boy, I have to admit – getting a commitment for two more seasons makes it well worth the wait. To be honest, I don’t want to say I told you so – but, too bad, I told you so. So, rest easy and hit the jump for more details about what season 3 and 4 will bring you and what STARZ has to say about them…
OK seasons three and four are on the way. What a relief. Actually, I am a tad surprised that both seasons were announced, but I have a theory on why they may have done it this way – more on that in a bit.
In keeping with the book-per-season method that has been employed for the first two seasons, it looks like season 3 will be adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s third novel, “Voyager” and the fourth season will be adapted from the fourth book in the series, “Drums Of Autumn.”
This is very exciting news as we approach the back quarter of season 2, and it can certainly quell a lot of fear/ insecurities about the renewal of this hit show for STARZ.
The funny thing is that STARZ, and it’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, certainly do know the power of their most valuable IP and clearly did not have a problem renewing their order of the Tall Ship Productions/Sony Television produced series. Even Albrect acknowledged the uncanny strength of their show when he discussed the reason for renewal:
‘Outlander’ is like nothing seen before on television. From its depiction of a truly powerful female lead character, to the devastating decimation of the Highlander way of life, to what is a rarely seen genuine and timeless love story, it is a show that not only transports the viewer, but inspires the passion and admiration of its fans. On this 25th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the U.S., we are thrilled and honored to be able to continue the story that began with author Diana Gabaldon, and is brought to life by the incredibly talented Ronald D. Moore. There are no better storytellers for ‘Outlander’ than this team, both in front and behind the camera.
Notice a couple of interesting tidbits mentioned by Albrecht:
1. He mentions the devoted fans – which is an acknowledgement of your amazing power as a collective group, but it’s also a veiled acknowledgement that you have brought in tons of subscriptions, and that he hears your passionate voices as it relates to the renewal. In other words – crap, if I don’t renew – we’re going to lose all these brand new viewers we just got!
2. The 25th anniversary – the delay in the announcement is clearly a calculated PR move. They certainly wanted to bring more light to the show, but also capture all the book readers at the same time who are celebrating “Outlander Day.” But here’s another idea – it’s also a little bit of a solid for Diana Gabaldon too – not only does it bring more eyes to the books, but it also highlights Diana herself too. Not only is the show being celebrated, but now Diana (who seems to have been a little bit at odds with some production choices) is also center stage too. Smart. Very smart.
There is also a precedent for this too – Paramount wanted to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of STAR TREK this year, and despite a rushed production, they have produced, shot and will be releasing STAR TREK BEYOND this year.
3. Ronald D. Moore – Notice how he calls out RDM specifically? This is a big shot in the arm for fans who were worried about RDM and the new limited Phillip K. Dick series. Albrecht is essentially telling you that RDM and the team he has assembled isn’t going anywhere ANY time soon.
With all that said, it’s really a no brainer that STARZ renews Outlander. Season 1 averaged over 5 million multiplatform viewers per episode, and it currently owns the record for the highest rated premiere ever on STARZ as well.
But here is a little prediction for you, and this is when we get back to why I think both seasons were announced:
I think the renewal is a HUGE benefit to RDM and company because it gives them a set amount of episodes to tell their story. Of course, we all know that there are more than just four books, but that doesn’t mean there has to be more seasons to tell the rest of the story.
Is it possible that Outlander pulls a Game of Thrones move, and crafts their own ending of the story between Jamie and Claire, under the guidance and suggestions of Diana Gabaldon?
Here’s what I mean – they have two more seasons to tell the story they set out to tell from the beginning. And STARZ wanted to give RDM the confidence in knowing he has that much time left. Let’s say there will be between 10-13 episodes per season from here on out. That would give us between 20 and 26 more hours to tell this story. Let’s go even further and say that perhaps we get a couple 2 hour episodes in the fray as well (many shows have done this in their final seasons: 24, The Walking Dead, LOST, Battelstar Galactica just to name a few) then we may end up with as many as 30 more hours of Outlander.
Can 30 more hours tell the story of a pared down Outlander? Well, without knowing the books, it’s hard to say – but if you can adapt Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows into a 4 hour epic, then you can certainly accomplish your own SPECIFIC story you set out to tell with Outlander.
Keep in mind, while subscription are indeed at an all time high, money is coming in for STARZ, and the show is certainly running at a creative peak right now, Outlander IS an expensive prospect for STARZ and Sony. It may make fiscal sense to keep the show at four seasons and not drag it out longer than it needs to be.
Another aspect of this too is the creative team behind the show – Ron Moore is currently 51. Certainly not old, but definitely not young (in terms of show running) either. If he commits to adapting every book into a season of television, he’s got AT LEAST another 7 more years of showrunning this HUGE, complicated, expensive, and geographically diverse show. By committing that time, he is essentially forfeiting the rest of his creative career to realize Diana’s vision of Outlander. Will he want to move onto another series before he turns 60? Does he want to do something original? Does he want the stresses of finances, travel, and coordination of this show to impact his year and family that far into the future? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Only RDM knows the answer.
One solution would be to move into only an Executive Producer role – kind of like Carlton Cuse does on Colony, Bates Motel, and Jack Ryan – and leave the SHOW RUNNING to someone else of his picking. But, do we really want to watch an Outlander not run by Ron Moore? I’m not so sure.
NOTE: STARZ has never renewed a show (after season 2) with a two season order. AND they have never renewed a show beyond season 4. I’m not saying they don’t have faith in Outlander, clearly STARZ does believe in it’s power, but this is entirely possible. Also note that RDM’s previous most famous show, Battlestar Galactica, also had a four season run.
It may or may not be true – but we clearly have two more seasons, and RDM has never been shy about putting his own stamp on the material. Book readers may not like this idea, but it would certainly separate the show from the book, and it wouldn’t spoil the ending of the written series for the devout book readers, but would possibly serve as a happy medium and satisfying ending for both watchers and readers.