First Look: The Oddly Capitalized TURN

Turn (Photo: AMC)
Turn (Photo: AMC)

George Washington *is* involved in this early-America series, but not the zombie version. So this would be uncharted territory for AMC.

Show

TURN, Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

Premise

Apparently some British guys once invaded America (I wasn’t a history major) and then some boyhood chums became spies for the Continental Army and kicked them out. The series picks up just after the British have sacked New York in 1776.

Pedigree

Based on the really-did-exist Culper Ring1 via the book Washington’s SpiesTURN is one of several period pieces in development or announced by AMC. Creator Craig Silverstein has a spotty record with style, having executive produced Terra Nova, Nikita, the should-have-been-better K’Ville, the promising-start-then-fell-apart Standoff, and others.

What Works

The subject matter is great, and the stories that can and will be mined here are catnip to history buffs, war buffs, spy buffs, and politics buffs alike. Strong, natural acting abounds in almost every scene. AMC didn’t cheap out on the sets, costumes, or other production values. The British are all suitably despiseable.2 Plus Stephen Root is reportedly involved and I will watch that man read the phone book. There’s also an intriguingly styled, if oddly discordant, credits sequence that hints at great machinations to come. 

What Doesn’t Work

There was both too much and too little in this two hour pilot. Between the historical basis and what was on display here, this show is going to focus on the central two or three figures in the ring, and not be a spy-adventure-of-the-week format. That’s a good move. The problem is I only got half a sense of one of the characters, and the writing left the other hanging out to dry, both barely motivating and telegraphing well in advance his change in loyalties. The whole double-ep also felt a little flat, in delivery and pacing. Hopefully things will pick up as the series progresses.

Verdict

Looks strong enough, though currently too slow. I’ll have to watch episode 2 before I decide if this one soars or drags.3

Closing Thoughts

I’m hardly a Revolutionary-era historian, but methinks the opening title card should have read “Infurgents have declared war againft the Crowne”.

  1. A group that, when you think about it, should have been covered more in popular culture by now.  
  2. They’re the new neo-Nazis!  
  3. And gawd help me if AMC’s media player is as finicky as it was this time.  

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About Aaron Mucciolo 206 Articles

He does things. That’s all we can say at this time. E-mail: mooch@whatelseison.tv