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Arizona Republic Q&A with Producer Maril Davis


Maril with Queen Anne Kenney somewhere in the Highlands.

The TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series of books proved so successful that Starz picked it up for a second season less than a week after its August premiere. That's great news for the Paradise Valley author and even better news for fans following the adventures of nurse Claire (Caitriona Balfe) who travels from 1945 to 1743, where she encounters a dashing Scotsman Jamie (Sam Heughan).

Co-executive producer Maril Davis, whose credits include "Helix," "Carnivale" and the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot, checked in to tease about the second half of the first season, which returns Saturday, April 4, with an episode titled "The Reckoning."

Question: You must be pleased with the way things are going.

Answer: We've been so thrilled by the reaction. You definitely think it's special while you're making it, but you're in a bubble. Once your baby is out there, you hope people like it. This is one of those shows where people stop me and ask what's going to happen. My family is watching it, and they have not watched anything I've worked on.

Q: Did you know the intensity of the fan base going in?

A: I'm part of that fan base! I've been a huge fan of this series for years. It would have been very hard to do see someone else do this. I'm just so thrilled Ron (executive producer Ronald D. Moore) also responded to the material.

Q: When did you know it was working?

A: The show premiered at (San Diego) Comic-Con, and the moment the opening credits rolled on the first episode, the reaction was amazing. I was worried: I have my fan hat and my producer hat, and it's really tough straddling the line. There's only so much information you can put into the TV series. But from the moment when Claire went to the stones, people were crying in the audience. They'd been waiting so long for it come to the air.

Q: What can you tell us about the new episodes?

A: Not too much! (Laughing) It gets really dark. If we stay true to the book, we'll get to see Jamie and Claire as a married couple now, and how they deal with that. We'll see how they weather the storm and if certain things will tear them apart.

Q: Do we see Frank (Claire's husband in 1945) again?

A: We won't see Frank again (this season), but we will see Black Jack (played Tobias Menzies, who also plays Frank). Quite honestly, we see Frank much more in the TV show than we did in the book. Certainly, Episode Eight, which was all about Frank's whole search for Claire, was not in the book. That is one of the things Diana said was a great addition. As a reader, you're curious about what Frank is doing.

Q: Rupert and Angus are not in the books, correct?

A: They are, but they are much more minor characters. The casting was huge with those two. Stephen (Walters) and Grant (O'Rourke) are so amazing and their chemistry is so fabulous. We knew immediately we had to make those parts a little bigger.

Q: How does Diana respond to such change?

A: We've been so lucky. She's so fabulous. I send her scripts and outlines and ask her for feedback. Quite honestly, she doesn't give us many notes. She says things like, "People are going to notice if that line is not there." Or she may say, "That's not totally right, but I understand why you're doing that." She's hugely supportive.

Q: Did you get any negative feedback from the changes?

A: We changed Claire's ring a bit. I knew why we were doing it and I anticipated there might be a little bit of a backlash. Any time we divert from the plot, we might get a little pushback. But, there's a lot of fans that actually appreciate that. If you've read the books, it can be (a nice surprise) when the story unfolds differently.

Q: So you can't give us any spoilers?

A: The last two episodes will be kind of a game changer. Get ready for a wild ride, because I think we're going to take you to places you don't expect. I think we're going to surprise some people with these episodes.

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Tags: interview, maril davis, season 1b
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