Showrunner Ronald D. Moore on ‘Outlander,’ ‘Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick’

TV Showrunners Impact Report
Courtesy of Ronald D. Moore

EDINBURGH, Scotland — “Outlander” showrunner Ronald D. Moore told an audience at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival on Thursday that in Season 3 the show would start in Scotland but would then be making a sea voyage in the 18th century.

“There’s an extended journey across the Atlantic and then the story eventually goes to Jamaica, the Caribbean and ending up in the New World,” he said. “Season 3 will be as different to Season 2 as Season 2 was to Season 1.”

These dramatic shifts threw up challenges for Moore, who said: “It’s exciting creatively; it’s very hard in terms of the production… You are doing a whole new series with every season. So that’s very difficult. Scouting new locations, building new sets, bringing in new cast members, new costumes, different eras. It increases the expense, it increases the time necessary to prep everything, to shoot everything… So it makes it more difficult and it also takes more mental energy having to crack new problems.”

“Outlander” is based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series, and Moore said that after working on shows like “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Battlestar Galactica” he welcomed the chance to tackle a literary adaption. “It was the first time I had really adapted something so there was a freshness to a different challenge,” he said.

As the books have a huge fan base, he had to tread with care. “My job as the showrunner is to figure out how to service that audience and also bring in a new audience that has never read these books. And the show, week after week, has to function on both these levels.”

Moore underscored the differences between the novel and the show. “You are not capturing Diana’s voice in the show, so much as you are capturing her world and her story. Diana’s voice is there for you on the page. When you read the book, or any book, the author is speaking to you directly,” he said. “The TV show has a vision, feeling and vibe that is an entity unto itself. All these component pieces then combine into our voice.”

Moore said the strength of character of the show’s lead protagonist, Claire Randall, was one of the elements that attracted him to the project. “I really liked her intelligence and her strength of character. It was one of the things that drew me into the story,” he said.

Moore is now working on the script for 10-part science fiction series “Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick,” which he is exec producing with Michael Dinner (“Justified,” “Masters of Sex”) and “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston. Each episode will be based on a different short story by author Dick, and each will have different directors and writers attached. He wants to get the directors and writers to select a story that “inspires” and “speaks to them.” It wouldn’t be a “literal translation of the story,” but the story or its characters would act as a springboard for the episode.