Additions/Corrections: Thank you so much to readers who shared your comments with me about this post. I stand corrected with reference to Sony, and with reference to the number of episodes per season.
I had not listened to the 207 Podcast (Click Here to listen). At about 18:40, Toni and Ron talk about cutting scenes and Ron says the first cut of this episode was an hour and a half. He called the network and they gave him permission to make it 90 minutes if he needed to. He later says, “there’s that point when you’re asking the audience to cry too long…” in reference to why he didn’t do the full 90 minutes.
In listening to the podcast to update this piece, I’m struck by the care, concern, and heartfelt effort put into this episode, this production, by these two and all of the people they mention. I’m reminded of everything that went into this episode: Claire’s miscarriage, Master Raymond saving Claire, scenes with Mother Hildegarde, Bouton, Fergus’ rape by BJR, and Claire finding out about that, Claire going to King L to save Jamie, the scene in the star chamber where St Germain is poisoned, Claire having sex w the king, and the reconciliation with Jamie. It’s a lot. It’s heavy.
At 48:15 in the podcast, Toni says, “the next scene is actually some genius editing of yours…” and they discuss the cutting of the scene here.
I think Sam’s acting is stellar and the deleted scenes are beautifully played by both Sam and Cait. But Ron’s the guy, and the bottom line is, I trust him with my favorite book series. So, while I may think those scenes should’ve been included, there’s no way I have visibility into all considerations for making that decision. It’s absurd for me or anyone to say otherwise. He’s been doing this for years.
Another reader made reference to a comment by Maril, which I found here which addresses my comment about more episodes:
Nonetheless, the producer confirmed that Outlander season 3 will have 13 episodes. “I think we will kind of stick to 13 as we move forward. What people don’t realize is, in the first season, those 16 episodes came from me and Ron [executive producer Ron Moore] on our own without a writers’ room just kind of trying to figure out how many episodes there would be.”
“Also, production-wise, it’s very difficult to pull off 16 episodes and it’s hard on the actors. It took us more than a year of shooting the first time around and 13 episodes takes us 10 months of shooting — and that’s not taking into account the prep time or the time for the writers — so you end up being on a very long cycle. We feel like 13 is an appropriate amount and if we tried to do more, it would put a strain on production and it would be even longer between seasons,” she stressed.
So, there you go. 13 is the magic number.
I guess the bottom line for me is, it’s OK to state our opinions, and wish these scenes were included, or any other thing, but let’s do it from a place of respect for these people and their work, and also be real about the fact that most of us don’t really have a clue how to do Ron’s job. We are passionate fans, but armchair producers in the end.
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Let me start by saying, this is an opinion piece, so what follows is my opinion.
I like to consider different points of view. Without speaking directly to people, I have to imagine what they might be. And I’m probably off base, at least a little, maybe a lot.
I would imagine Sam has already dealt with disappointment about having some really great work end up on the cutting room floor. Maybe he’s had thoughts like, “if people had seen that bit, I might have gotten an Emmy nomination.” I’d imagine Toni (writer) and Metin (director) have been through similar feelings and the requisite getting through them and moving forward. It probably extends to people in lighting, and makeup; maybe the cinematographer or camera person is extra proud of one of those shots, or another which was cut. I think it ends up being a very real part of the job.
Why would Ron decide to cut such amazing scenes? Overall symmetry, balance, and moving the story forward all come to mind. What I’m absolutely sure of, is there’s a container. And it’s determined by time, which equals money. There was a heck of a lot of material to cover in DIA. And if you think about it, they even covered the beginning of Voyager in Season 2.
I would imagine one of the first things established in determining a show is the budget, and with that, the timeline. I’m guessing Ron writes a proposal which includes an amount of money needed to produce the show. Then Sony, as a business, reviews that and figures out if they can make it work, financially. They probably negotiate back and forth, and something is agreed upon. Then Ron (amazingly) sticks to that budget and timeline, which includes everything from actors’ salaries to the coffee and toasties served on set. Hundreds of people and moving parts all have to be contained and moved forward within a budget and timeline which ultimately yields a finished product: the show. I used to be a software project manager, running projects of up to $600,000.00 with (what I thought were) big teams of people. The thought of doing what Ron does is frankly scary to me.
I loved Season 1. I loved Season 2 too. I did feel like the pace of Season 2 was faster, and we never got a chance to spread out and relax into the intimate moments with Jamie and Claire. Diana’s episode (211) felt the most spacious to me. I think adding a Lallybroch episode would have been fab, so we could watch them relax a little, make love, milk the goats, see Jenny and Jamie argue, watch Fergus run around, etc. I think another episode, or 2 or 3 or 4 or… would only enhance the show, maybe. But there is a tipping point. In the end this is a business venture for Sony, albeit a work of love for the team involved, clearly. Another episode, just one more, means paying ALL of the people it takes to make an episode, multitudes, including materials – costumes, sets, food, transport, etc etc. I would imagine it’s a significant amount more. In addition, Ron has to consider the right amount of time for yielding a product without burning out his talent (and that means everyone). Ron has to make the show work on all of these levels, stick to his contract, and make something incredible, which he does. It’s pretty amazing.
I’ll add one thing too, about artistic integrity. I’m an artist (self proclaimed). I’ve performed on stage as a theatrical dancer and as part of an equestrian dance company. My writing is my art, as are my documentary packages. A person’s art is sacred. They put their heart and soul into it. Every contributor to this show is an artist, as far as I can tell. Ron’s art is his writing and his post production editing. His art is pulling together all of the thousands of pieces of this show and making the final, gorgeous product. When we make comments about someone’s art, in this age of social media, it’s important to keep that piece in mind in my opinion. To that end, I am very grateful for Ron’s work. For all of their work, from Diana to the toasty guy.
If I were playing a game of would you rather and someone said, “would you rather have the show without the deleted scene or have no show at all?” I’d say “throw that scene in the sea and never look back!”
It’s pretty clear this show is a hit, and will be for a long while, as it’s only gaining momentum, seemingly. If you want more scenes, ask Sony to give Ron a bigger container. Maybe he doesn’t want one, I don’t know. Maybe that would disrupt the delicate balance he’s got going on for making this incredible series. The fact is, I don’t know. The fact is, none of us knows.
I suggest looking at the big picture and moving to a state of gratitude. If we feel so compelled, we can send a note to Sony asking for more budget for Outlander, keeping in mind that if prices go up, we’ll know we asked for it. I suggest letting Ron and the rest of the team know that we are grateful for their art, and we hope they will keep producing it for a long long time.