Turn: “Pilot” – TV Review

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By Ben Lane

My review for the pilot episode of Turn will not be like my reviews for Game of Thrones and Hannibal. I will not have spoilers in this review, nor will I be doing an episode by episode review. Instead, I will just briefly give my thoughts on the episode, and if I like the season enough I will more than likely do a season review once it concludes. With that being said, let’s get into it. Turn is a new drama on AMC, home channel for successful series such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. With this airing just after The Walking Dead‘s season finale, those at AMC are probably hoping this and the upcoming Halt & Catch Fire will keep viewers hooked on their channel. Halt & Catch Fire, which will air in June, is looking promising, and now that the first episode of Turn is here, I am pleased to say that it is looking promising as well. I really dug this pilot episode.

Set in New York in 1776, this series follows an American farmer who forms a group of spies to spy on the British. That’s really all I’m going to say about it in this review. If you read the book (Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose) then you probably know the story. If you are a history buff, you probably know it as well. For the rest of us (and I myself am a lover of American history), this episode proves to be a solid entry to this story that we don’t know all of the details of. I plan on reading the book, but I may wait until the show ends, or at least this season, because I would like to see this story unfold by way of the screen.

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Wanna see Daddy form a spy ring?

Jamie Bell gives a well rounded performance as Abe Woodhull, the central character of this story. Having played in Flags of Our Fathers and voicing the title character in The Adventures of Tintin, I have prior knowledge of Bell, but I’m not a dedicated fan by any means. Maybe as this show continues it could serve as the breakthrough for his wider recognition. Supporting him is a well rounded cast, everyone seemingly doing good work in their roles. The show has some good direction, costume design, and background as the world of the 1770s seems authentic. I am a sucker for the Revolutionary War, and that is why I found the environment of this show so appealing.

The problem I had with this pilot episode was that it was 63 minutes, as a lot of pilot episodes tend to be, and its being a historical drama made it be a bit boring at times. Now as I said, I am a sucker for the Revolutionary War and American history in general, but this episode did drag a tad and made it feel almost like watching a full length movie. That being said, the show still had enough intensity floating around to keep me hooked.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The premiere of AMC’s new historical drama Turn isn’t perfect. It’s slow at times, and sometimes feels like a full length movie. But with Jamie Bell’s performance and the subject matter of George Washington’s spies, this show is just too entertaining to consider not watching. For history buffs this may be solid gold. For others, it should still serve as solid entertainment, and informative television. I can’t wait to see where this show takes us.

7.5 / 10

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