Welcome to April, also known as the month in which every TV show you love or could love is returning or premiering! April is basically one big TV buffet right now, which is both good and bad because it means you'll never be bored, but you'll also have to make some tough decisions about which shows to watch, which ones to DVR, and which ones to forget about. Which category does AMC's new historical spy drama Turn fall into? Why, I'm glad you asked! If you'll just follow me, I'll tell you all about what to expect in the next edition of Hey TV.com, What's Up With This Show?
Turn's one-word title tells me almost nothing. What's this show about?
Turn is AMC's entrant into the burgeoning arena of TV spy dramas. Set during the Revolutionary War, it explores the birth of modern espionage as several childhood friends on Long Island come together to form the the Culper Ring, a team of spies who help George Washington in his battle against the Regulars, or Red Coats, by smuggling information. The series is based on Alexander Rose's book Washington's Spies, and the real-life Culper Ring that operated during the war and long after.
Who's doing the spying? And who's giving the orders?
Turn stars Jamie Bell (Billy Eilliot) as conflicted farmer Abraham "Abe" Woodhull. The son of a Tory judge (Kevin R. McNally, Pirates of the Caribbean), Abe becomes an agent for the Patriots in an attempt to do what's right for his family—his wife Mary (Meegan Warner, the TV movie Beauty and the Beast), who he wed in an arranged marriage, and their one-year-old son. Seth Numrich (Gravity the Starz TV series, not the recent movie) is Abe's handler and long-time friend Ben Tallmadge, a Continental Dragoon in Washington’s army. Daniel Henshall (the Australian series Out of the Blue) is Caleb Brewster, another childhood friend who acts as a courier for the Culper Ring. And Heather Lind (Boardwalk Empire) plays Anna Strong, Abe's true love who gets tangled up in the battle. Rounding out the cast as the enemy are Burn Gorman (Torchwood, The Hour) as Major Hewlett, Angus MacFayden (Braveheart) as mercenary Robert Rogers, JJ Feild (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Loyalist spy John André, and Samuel Roukin (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1) as Captain John Graves Simcoe. Craig Silverstein (Nikita) is Turn's showrunner and he co-executive-produces the series alongside Barry Josephson (Bones).
When does Turn take its first turn on my TV screen?
Turn debuts with a special 90-minute episode this Sunday, April 6 at 9pm; starting Sunday, April 13, it will pair with Mad Men to form a period-piece double-header. Unfortunately, that means Turn will face stiff competition from Game of Thrones on HBO, plus Believe on NBC, Resurrection on ABC, Mr. Selfridge on PBS, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on Fox, and The Good Wife on CBS.
Who might enjoy Turn?
Hardcore Billy Elliot fans! Anyone who's got a thing for spies will enjoy the series, as will fans of historical drama.
What do you spy that's good about Turn?
Actually, the best thing about Turn is probably its credit sequence, but you probably want to know more than that, right? The series looks beautiful, but it's also extremely bloody, so if you're into violence and blood splatters and bayonets making a squicky sound as they enter lifeless bodies, you'll probably love Turn. As for the plot, the series is perfectly interesting. The storylines focus as much on the characters as they do on act of spying, and the enemies are painted exactly as you might expect them to be: as Grade A jerks. Gorman and Roukin are particularly good in their roles as leaders in the King's army.
What about Turn might inspire me to turn the channel?
Turn is, as one might expect, starts off a little slow. Before any actual spying can be done, the pilot has to put in a bit of legwork to show viewers where Abe's head is at—that way, when the time comes, he can make the choice to help his friends and the Patriots in their war against the Crown. The proposition to become a spy doesn't even come until the pilot's 35-minute mark (and that's in the press screener, which means it will be even later for viewers watching with commercials).
History junkies should be aware that the series is very narrow-minded, in that it focuses almost exclusively on what's transpiring in and around New York City, which is a Loyalist stronghold. It's understandable that Turn doesn't take place all over the colonies, given that Abe is but one man, but the show also doesn't go out of its way to remind us that the Revolutionary War stretched across a much bigger territory than it depicts.
So, should I watch it?
If you like spies and you like period dramas, I think it's definitely worth checking out.
Gimme a trailer!
Turn premieres Sunday, April 6 at 9pm on AMC.
AIRED ON 6/8/2014
Season 1 : Episode 10