TURN: Season 1 created by Craig Silverstein (AMC Studios, Sesfonstein Productions, and Josephson Entertainment)

Starring Jamie Bell, Heather Lind, Burn Gorman, Samuel Roukin, Seth Numrich, Daniel Henshall, Meegan Warner, Kevin McNally, Angus Macfadyen, and JJ Field.

Sticking with It

One parental principle I hope to instill in my son is the concept of sticking with it. If you sign up for something, you remain committed to it through the duration, whether it’s a sporting season, or a certain agreed level of expertise on an instrument.

Not wanting to be a hypocrite, when I signed up to watch the first season of TURN, I did so acknowledging I’d watch the whole thing no matter how good or bad the show might be.

And truth be told, TURN is not so great.

Setauket

The series begins in the fall of 1776 after the British army secured victories in Long Island, Staten Island, and New York City. With New York City as the central base of operations, the British army encamps itself throughout the New York region looking for loyalists and spies.

One such place is Setauket, New York. Taking up offices in the town’s church, Major Richard Hewlett (Burn Gorman) leads the British regiment with the help of the local judge, Richard Woodhull (Kevin McNally).

While most of the townsfolk try to keep a low profile, it is difficult to remain on the British side when the sociopathic John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin) makes an enemy out of just about anyone.

Worst off is Anna Strong (Heather Lind), the wife of the local tavern owner and object of Simcoe’s desires.

Caught in the middle of these turgid affairs is Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell), Judge Woodhull’s son and lifelong friend of Anna Strong. Even though Abe wants nothing more than peace and quite for his town and his family, including his wife Mary (Meegan Warner), he’s caught between two minds as many of his young friends went off to join the rebel cause, such as Benjamin Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) and Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall).

When the opportunity arises for Abe to provide espionage services to General Washington’s army through his buddies, Abe must face the difficult decision to uproot all he knows for the sake of an idea or turn his back on friends to whom he considers brothers.

Diminishing Returns

While the premise of TURN intrigues, watching this series provides diminishing returns. For a period drama focused on spying, there’s not much to do with spying. Even worse, the show often blurs the difficult realities around slave ownership because it’s a topic supposedly better left unmentioned.

A love triangle emerges as one of many standard narrative trope and I quickly became uninterested in the motivations behind these characters. But, I had to give it a season. I signed up for something; I better see it through. Now that I’ve finished Season 1, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you not watch this show. I certainly won’t step in for Season 2.

Verdict: 1.5 out of 5

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