A Great Time On the Road – Men In Kilts Starts Sunday! Preview

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The excitement is building – the signal has gone out – and the fans have responded! (The signal will make more sense once you see the show…) Men In Kilts starts this Sunday! And that it’s Valentine’s Day is very fitting – this show is a love letter to Scotland, to its food, its scenery, and its history. And the lovers writing are not just Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, but every fan of Outlander who has been to, or yearned to visit this beautiful country.

I had the opportunity to see the first episode last night, as well as a cook-along segment with celebrity chef Tony Singh. This will be shown in some form – right now, it’s not set to show on Starz prior to the MIK premiere, but likely will be on Instagram – and don’t skip it, thinking, “well, I don’t cook….” It was cute, funny, and very interesting – Graham is in New Zealand, where borders are closed, so he appeared virtually, which was a major source of comedy bits. The show’s PR team posted a list of ingredients and tools you’ll need to cook along with this segment – you’ll be making a Honey and Whisky Fool (like a mousse or custard), and shortbread cookies. (Two notes on the ingredients – the list calls for “caster sugar” – superfine sugar will do; and double cream, which is not readily available in the US – heavy whipping cream is an adequate, although not identical, substitute.)

And with the cooking completed, the first episode begins! This episode focuses on the food and drink of Scotland, traveling from Edinburgh to Islay (pronounced I-la). My great friend Samantha Kraupner came over to watch with me, and we laughed – and salivated – through the entire half hour. Chef Singh reappears in an outdoor cooking segment – and I know you’ll wish you were a guest at this table! There are plenty of Outlander references to tie the shows together, as well as Star Trek callbacks. Besides the love letter to their beloved country, this show is about the friendship of the two men – a sweet, funny, one-upsmanship, gently sarcastic friendship, heightened by this shared experience.

Trying to write a preview for this show is unlike other projects I’ve written about – there’s no plot, not a great deal of surprise, Sam and Graham are themselves, not characters, so no critique of their acting skills is required. But I can tell you there are no dull moments, and you’ll be wishing this was an hour each week rather than 8 half-hour segments.

Not surprisingly, Sam’s Sassenach whisky line is mentioned frequently, and Men In Kilts sometimes feels like a bit of commercial for both the brand and for Outlander – but nobody is complaining. Us Outlander fans have demonstrated our enthusiasm for anything related to any cast member, whether it’s alcohol, other film projects, or any other merchandise (of which I know we would like more!!).

Starz went all out to publicize this show. I’ve been writing about TV for just about 8 years now, and have gotten lots of swag packs from lots of shows – and I’ll tell you, none has been like this. Last month, Starz sent a terrific box with a pair of Scottish wool socks and a thermos, as well as some other fun things.

And this week, I, and many other writers and cast members, received a HUGE box full of fantastic items – Men In Kilts-branded whisky glasses and napkins, treats, a lunch bag with some of the items for the cook-along, heart-shaped cookie cutters, hot pads, and more! (Writers in LA and NY had personal deliveries containing all of the ingredients including a bottle of Sam’s Sassenach whisky – the bottle in my pictures is Samantha’s, just for illustration.) To say this increased my excitement for the show would be an understatement, and I certainly wish that some of these items were available to all of you, whether to purchase or as contest prizes.

The other fun thing that Starz did, that was accessible to all fans, was to send out – digitally or through the mail, for US fans – MIK postcards for Valentine’s Day! You can still send a friend, or yourself, a digital postcard, by going here.

There are also some other cute Valentines from MIK –

 

The show has been in the making for less than two years. In the companion book Clanlands (which I strongly suggest you get, if you haven’t already), Sam and Graham discuss the origins of the show. From a phone call in March of 2019, with a plan for a podcast, to the idea of using GoPro cameras to film themselves, to selling this concept to Starz almost exactly a year ago today (on page 290 of Clanlands, Sam and Graham talk about meeting with Starz execs the day after the Los Angeles premiere of Outlander’s Season 5), the travelogue/comedy show has been discussed and eagerly awaited by Outlander’s thousands and thousands of fans. It had to be inevitable, though, that Starz would pick the show up quickly – most of the crew that traveled with Sam and Graham, prior to this meeting with Starz, worked on Outlander as well. And both Sam and Graham are hugely popular with Outlander‘s legions of fans – to let this be shown anywhere else would have been a huge mistake.

Want your own little flat Sam and Grahams to print out? Click here to get a PDF.

Many of you – including me – will be taking notes on locations in the show as a guide for our next (first?) trip to Scotland, just as we note Outlander filming locations. Once we can travel again, I’m sure we’ll all be making our plans to head on over!!

Want to chat about the show, about Droughtlander, books you’ve been reading, how you’re coping? Samantha, Alyson and I will be doing a special run of our radio show, The Outlander Gab, starting again this coming Tuesday night, Feb. 16! We invite you to listen, and to call in and chat with us, at the TIBS radio site. There you can also find all past episodes of The Gab, and listen to them any time! The show will start at 9 pm eastern/8 central/6 Pacific.


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Erin Conrad