Summer 2014 cannot come soon enough for fans of Diana Gabaldon's bestselling book series, "Outlander." Why? Because that's when the upcoming TV adaptation on Starz is set to premiere. For the uninitiated, "Outlander" is an epic tale of adventure, history, time travel, and romance that revolves around World War II nurse Claire Randall, who ends up in 18th-century Scotland in the company of handsome Highlander Jamie Fraser.
Earlier this week, the network hosted a fan event in Los Angeles and unveiled the first teaser trailer for the show, which gave fans an early look at their beloved main characters Claire and Jamie brought to life by actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. We sought out a few "Outlander" experts for their thoughts on why the story has mass appeal, why Heughan will be everyone's new favorite leading man, and why we should have faith in executive producer Ronald D. Moore ("Battlestar Galactica").
Here are five fan-based reasons why "Outlander" is the next big thing on TV:
1. This Is Not a Schmaltzy Romance
"Contrary to popular belief, 'Outlander' is not a romance novel that appeals only to bored housewives," says Jennifer Townsend, owner and administrator of OutlanderFan.com. "Technically, it's classified as historical fiction, and while at its heart is a love story/triangle, there is so much more depth to it. There's literally something for everyone: time travel, history, politics, war, violence, and yes, romance."
"There are things that appeal to men as well as women," say Sarah Ksiazek and Johanna Field, writers for OutlanderTVNews.com. "It is historical fiction, and some of the places exist, some of the events did occur in history, and even some of the characters are pulled straight from the history books. The history of Scotland in the 1700s very much provides a timeline for the story weaved through it."
2. A Lovely Leading Man and Lady
"Have you seen [Heughan]? The man is gorgeous!" says Andrea James of OutlanderAddiction.com. "But really, Sam's physical features are of lesser importance. Yes, he is built just as Diana Gabaldon describes him, 6' 3," a large presence, built like a swimmer or basketball player, etc., but Sam has already shown he will be a great Jamie with his passion for getting [the adaptation] right, his great attitude and wit, and his sincerity and kindness toward fans. We all love Sam, already."
And let's not forget that the world essentially revolves around memorable main character Claire Randall: "I'm excited for the world to fall in love with Claire, a strong, capable female role model," says Townsend. "I think she will be well-received by the general public."
3. A Successful Storyteller Is at the Helm
"Ron Moore, who has produced many successful series, is very focused on keeping it as close to the book version as possible," say Ksiazek and Field. "There is already a built-in fan base that started building with the publication of the first novel in 1991. Because of Ron Moore, Starz, Sony, and the production team, this will be an extraordinary series that will have fans and newcomers clamoring for more."
Bonus fact: John Dahl, who directed episodes of "Breaking Bad," directs the first two "Outlander" episodes.
4. Success Lies Within an Accurate Adaptation
"The show will be a success not only because of its appeal to most audiences, but also the dedication of the writers and producers of the show to keep true to the books," says James. "We've been told on several occasions that will be a No. 1 priority of the makers of the show, and from what we've seen thus far, I believe them."
5. The Author Approves
"They have been very kind in involving me," Gabaldon recently revealed during Starz's winter press tour, along with the fact that she has a cameo role in the first season. "They show me scripts. They show me glimpses of this, that, and the other, and they ask my opinion every now and again... although they are not obliged to accept it. I have been extremely amazed and very touched at the degree to which they trust me."
"Outlander" premieres this summer on Starz.