Outlander: Complete Season One - Collector's Edition review

Genre-defying TV series blends time-travel, romance and historical drama to impressive effect

Shortly after the end of World War II, British army nurse Claire Randall (Catriona Balfe) holidays in Scotland with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). While gathering plants near some standing stones, Claire is thrust back in time to 1743. There she becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings and starts to fall in love with Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) – and to complicate matters even further, she also runs afoul of her husband's ancestor, sadistic Redcoat Captain Jack Randall (Menzies, again).

Based on Diana Gabaldon's popular series of historical-fantasy-romance novels, Outlander may sound like sub-Twilight nonsense, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Produced by Ronald D. Moore (the man behind the acclaimed Battlestar Galactica reboot), this series makes for gritty, violent and sexy drama; pulling no punches in depicting the hardship and horrors of its period setting. The fact that it does this from a female perspective makes it all the more welcome and (sadly) unusual.

The cast also deserves a massive amount of credit for making the show compelling. Heughan and Menzies are both excellent, and Balfe truly commands the screen, imbuing Claire with a mix of intelligence, confidence and sensuality that makes her one of modern TV's most fascinating and complex heroines.

Picture: Outlander cuts a fine figure on Blu-ray, with this set's AVC 1.78:1 Full HD encodes revelling in the natural beauty of the Scottish locations. Colours veer towards more natural, earthy tones, while skin tones range from naturally pallid to more ruddy, windswept complexions. Blacks are suitably deep and imposing – although are also prone to crush, which does have an effect on shadow detail. Elsewhere, however, fine textures are well resolved.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: The series arrives on Blu-ray with a series of effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks. Favouring atmosphere over bombastic effects, the mixes make engaging use of the surrounds to create a convincing 360-degree soundscape. Similarly, bass response is controlled, but packs plenty of depth when required.

Meanwhile, dialogue is prioritised in the mix and sounds fine, while Bear McCreary's score carries plenty of range and musicality.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Spread across the set's five hi-def platters you'll find a multitude of deleted scenes; podcast commentaries for the second half of the season; an extended cut of episode 10 (The Reckoning) with optional intro by Ronald D. Moore; ten behind-the-scenes featurettes; and a gag reel.

This Collector's Edition boxset also includes some exclusive goodies in the form of four art cards and a 68-page photo-book. A 'standard' Blu-ray boxset without these exclusives is also available, priced around £50.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A superb hi-def package for an incredibly addictive TV series. Roll on Season Two...

Outlander: Complete Season One – Collector’s Edition, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £60 Approx