AMC takes on daring subject matter with the new Revolutionary War spy drama Turn. The series is based on the novel Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose, which details the true story of the Culper Ring. The Culper Ring was composed of a group of childhood friends who became espionage agents against the British forces occupying New York during the Revolutionary War and fed information to George Washington. The series premieres Sunday, April 6 at 9PM EST on AMC.
Turn centers around the real-life character of Abraham Woodhull, played by Irish actor Jamie Bell, who was a Long Island, New York cabbage farmer responsible for the formation of the Culper Ring, which was a society of secret agents that eventually helped George Washington win the Revolutionary War. The series dramatizes the activities of The Culper Ring–which consisted of Woodhull and his friends Continental Army officer Benjamin Tallmadge, played by Seth Numrich, outsider Caleb Brewster, portrayed by Daniel Henshall, as well as the innkeeper’s wife-Woodhull’s former love, Anna Strong, as played by actress Heather Lind of Boardwalk Empire–who laid the groundwork for modern espionage.
In the 90 minute AMC extended premiere of the daring Revolutionary War spy drama, Turn, it’s 1776 and the Revolutionary War has started. Woodhull is a young farmer living in British-occupied Long Island, NY and trying to support his wife, played by Meegan Warner, and baby son. Politics hold little interest to him and he generally overlooks the British forces controlling the area, even the soldier billeted in his own home. However, circumstances change when the situation becomes more personal for Abraham. Woodhull’s former love, Anna Strong, and her husband run the local tavern. She was engaged to Abraham three years earlier, but their relationship was torn asunder by politics and family squabbles. As predicted, a romantic triangle between Abraham, his loyalist wife Mary, and fellow spy Anna already seems poised to become a featured aspect of the series. However, whether or not that aspect will pan out or come to fruition remains unclear, only time will tell.
When Anna’s husband experiences a conflict with the Redcoats over his wife’s honor, Abraham tries to intercede and defuse the situation, which sets in motion a chain of violent events that lead him into an encounter with Continental Army soldiers, including his onetime friend Tallmadge, who presents Abraham with an opportunity to contribute to the war effort via spying on the British. While Abraham’s father, a judge portrayed by Kevin B. McNally of Pirates of the Caribbean, remains committed to the British forces. Despite the predictable skulking around, secret meetings, and clandestine signals used to illustrate the premise of “America’s first spy ring”, Turn serves as an intriguing period piece and its setting offers plenty of fertile ground for storytelling.
AMC has high hopes for Turn, its daring new spy drama set during the Revolutionary War. With Breaking Bad done and Mad Men beginning its final season next week, as well as the cancellations of last year’s abysmal Low Winter Sun and controversial cult hit series The Killing, which was axed after three seasons, the network is in need of another hit drama besides The Walking Dead on which to build its storytelling brand. The spy series was developed by Craig Silverstein and its pilot was directed by Rupert Wyatt. Turn strives to get the details right and the drama does not shy away from the realities of war. Subsequent episodes will continue to reflect the horrors of war and the stress of tested devotions in war-time via its storytelling. The supporting cast of the series has also enhanced the viewing experience with talented imported thespians, such as Burn Gorman as a British commander and Angus Macfadyen as a grizzled mercenary with questionable loyalties. To Bell’s credit, who started his career as a child actor, the actor has matured into a compelling leading man and seems capable of conveying Abraham’s reluctant journey into the underbelly of the war effort. The spy drama debuts on Sunday, April 6 at 9PM EST on AMC.
Opinion By Leigh Haugh