Have Online Dictionary, Will Travel: AMC’s Turn (2014)

27 May

At the moment, I’m in Houston for Comicpalooza. It’s been a wonderful convention, but I’m short on sleep, so I’ll apologise ahead of time if I’m not making much sense. 🙂

Anyway, there’s a new show I’ve been watching, and it’s on AMC. If you like American Revolutionary War era history (like me,) you might give it a try. It’s called TURN, and it’s based on the true story of America’s first spy ring.

Turn -- AMC

I’ve seen the first few episodes so far, and while it does have a few problems, there’s a lot to like. There seems to have been a great deal of thought put into it. For example, the animated opening credits are based on shadow play which would’ve been a popular form of entertainment of the time; the script and the acting are also pretty good, and in some cases, the show is downright great (Angus MacFadyen, for example, is amazing); the costuming appears to be dead on (although, I’m no expert); and there are female characters who do more than have sex or stand in the background.

As stated, it does have a few weak spots. The show (so far) lacks any significant characters of color, and it seems to give the slavery issue a hand-wavy pass. I understand why, but it bothers me. It’s also true that only one line so far has been given to a slave character. I’m not sure why this is the case. Anyway, overall it seems well-researched. This may be because the series is based on a non-fiction book by Alexander Rose titled Washington’s Spies.  If you’re researching the era, I think it’s a good resource. I’ve not actually read it — yet — but I will.

I’m also not entirely certain of the accents. In some cases, it’s a little confusing as to why some characters have European accents and others don’t. The son of a very American-sounding character, for example, speaks with a Celtic accent of some sort. It seems odd since his father sounds so very American. Maybe I missed it, but there seems to be no explanation for that. Yes, quite a few characters would be recent immigrants, but… that one particular case kept me wondering if the son arrived in the colonies after his father did — for a long enough time for his father to have dropped his accent entirely (I’m being nit-picky).

I do have a little trouble telling some of the characters apart. They just look too similar — particularly the women. Part of the problem is that they don’t seem to be using the standard film dialog techniques to help the viewer anchor the names of characters to faces. It also might be helpful to know a bit about the American Revolution before viewing it. There is a lot going on that isn’t explained. It’s fine if you don’t know what Guy Fawkes Day is about or when Guy Fawkes Day is, but it gives you more information if you do know.

That said, I’m enjoying the pace of the show; I found it grabbed me right away. Give it a try. I think it’s well worth it, especially since the show Sleepy Hollow has been playing so fast and loose with American History. Don’t get me wrong. I love that show, but the history is way off sometimes.


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