The Walking Dead has finished its season, and with Breaking Bad over and Mad Men still a week away, AMC is rolling the dice with the season premiere of Turn. Turn is a historical drama, revolving around The Culper Ring, America’s first spy ring used during the Revolutionary War. The trailers and previews for the show have not given much away, but with the success that the network has had with their dramas lately, Turn could give viewers a reason to stay glued to AMC until The Walking Dead returns.
The series is going to focus on a farmer, Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), and a group of his friends as they infiltrate, torture and extract information from British troops. The drama arises from the internal conflict these spies have within themselves. Woodhull, for example, is turning his back on his family when he begins to form this spy ring. His father (Kevin McNally) is a New York colonist that is leaning toward an acceptance of British rule as opposed to a revolution. Though Woodhull may have his friends surrounding him, they all face new and unexplored territory.
“They’re morally conflicted because to be a spy in this time was not an exciting profession. It wasn’t professional at all yet,” said show’s creator Craig Silverstein. “Back then, your word of honor was everything, so to essentially lie with every breath that you took about your loyalty was a much bigger deal even than it is now.”
AMC is hoping that premiering this spy drama will give them yet another “must-see” series to their repertoire. They will have tough competition in this particular category however. FX’s The Americans has had a few solid seasons during its run, and Homeland has already built a large audience during its three seasons on Showtime. The good news for the network is that the viewers have come to expect quality television from them after the overwhelming success of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.
For Silverstein, he is hoping to find more success with this project than with his last. Fox’s Terra Nova was well-received by audiences at first, drawing almost 10 million viewers in its premiere. But due to various sporting events running over the show’s airtime, viewership dropped, eventually leading to Fox cancelling the show after only one season. The visual effects for Terra Nova were stunning and the story was good, if not a little predictable. With Turn, Silverstein is expecting similar challenges.
“When you’re going into a show where it’s in the future or the past or anything, you’ve got the same set of questions. How does it work? What are the rules? How do people communicate? And both require a lot of visual effects.” said Silverstein.
Turn premieres tonight at 9 pm Eastern on AMC, the timeslot that usually aired The Walking Dead. Whether this is unintentional or AMC is simply trying to draw habitual viewers into their new television series is unknown. One thing is for sure, with the success that the network has had with their dramas of late, Turn will be worth watching, if only for the pilot episode.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner