Premieres Sunday, April 6 at 8pm on AMC.
Given American audiences interest in both on-screen carnage and nationalist pride, its surprising that the American Revolution isn't dramatized in film and television more often. There's plenty of excitement and intrigue to be mined from the bloodshed that christened the early days of this country. Unfortunately, Turn presents a stale depiction of the first band of American spies.
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Farmer Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell) lives with his wife (Meegan Warner) and infant son in British-occupied Long Island. The son of the local magistrate (Kevin McNally), Abe is under great pressure to maintain his family's loyalty to the English crown, despite the Redcoats' predilection for imposing on the homes and hospitalities of he and his neighbors. Under pressure from a pair of his childhood friends, who are now members of Washington's army, and his former fiancée, Abe reluctantly begins spying on the British garrison to aid the revolution.
It's almost impressive how Turn takes what should be riveting material and robs it of any spark. The opening episode, which occupies an extended 90-minute time slot, is largely devoted to Abe's labored recruitment to the war effort, much of which is due to his affections for Anna (Heather Lind), the daughter of a rebel who his father would not allow him to marry. While Bell is a talented actor, he's weighed down by a hopelessly dull character who is all too easily swayed by the desires of those around him and has little of his own agency. Without a strong hero at its center, the show becomes listless and muddled.
Between the indistinguishable pack of ponytailed male characters and a string of lifeless plots, Turn fails to engage, letting strong source material go to waste.