Everyone once in a while I feel like writing about something other than books (shocking, I know!)… and one of my favorite non-reading activities is watching TV. The spring season has just wrapped up, and I find myself with only three ongoing series on my DVR queue. Which is a good thing, in a way — more reading time in the evenings! I’ve cut way back on my commitment TV, but there are some shows that I absolutely love, and some that have only recently joined the list of my TV favorites.
One of the newer-to-me shows is AMC’s TURN. Close to the end of its second season, Turn has grown on me steadily since the beginning, and at this point, I’m totally hooked.
Turn‘s promos declare it “the untold story of America’s first spy ring”. Sounds pretty sensational, right?
Turn is the story of the legendary Culper Ring, George Washington’s network of spies whose intelligence gathering changed the course of the American Revolution.
Check out the season 2 preview trailer for a taste:
I’m seriously into this show. The development has been something of a slow burn, and it took me a few episodes of the first season to really get a handle on the players and the stakes. Ultimately, the characters are what make the show, and they’re terrific.
There are the biggies — George Washington and Benedict Arnold, among other well-known historical figures. Other people from the history books may be less immediately recognizable, but were in fact the key members of the Culper Ring: Abraham Woodhull, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Caleb Brewster, among others.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve become a little unreasonably infatuated with British spymaster John André, who is portrayed on the show with oodles of swagger and sex appeal (and has an endearing side braid that fascinates me all by itself):
If you need more convincing, how about this:
Why do I love Turn?
The acting is terrific, the story is fast-paced and twisty-turny, and the stakes are incredibly high. We all know how it turns out… but do we really know why? The intrigues are fascinating, and while we may think of redcoats and muskets as quaint elements of the past, seeing them in action makes the danger feel real. The weaponry is from the 1700s, but the human lives on the line are as vulnerable as ever.
I was surprised by how much tension and suspense a show about historical events could deliver. After all, we do know so much about the time — but seeing how these events unfold is constantly a thrill, especially as we’ve come to know the characters and understand who they are and what they’re risking for their beliefs.
The cast is superb (and okay, really good-looking). There are heroes and villains, some totally crazy-pants bad guys, dashes of romance, and even some rather funny bits mixed in… Hey, on the last episode, there was even a wooden mini-submarine. (It’s from HISTORY, yo. The Turtle — go look it up!)
As a side note — because I never do seem to write many posts that don’t mention Outlander in one way or another — the time period ties in nicely with the events in books 7 and 8 in the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone and Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. Fans of the book series will especially enjoy seeing some of the people, places, and occurrences familiar from the books from a new and different perspective. (No Jamie Fraser, but you can’t have everything.)
Want to know more about the history of the Culper Ring? Here are some good basics.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something intelligent and absorbing to occupy your vacant TV-watching hours, give Turn a try!
Do you watch Turn? What do you think of it so far? Share your thoughts in the comments!