Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

    Actors: Daniel Henshall, Heather Lind, Jamie Bell, Kevin McNally, Seth Numrich
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:   Not Rated
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2016
  • Run Time: 438 minutes


            Doing its best to toe the line between historical accuracy and escapist entertainment, this AMC Revolutionary War series does its best to provide something for all viewers. Loosely based on the book, “Washington’s Spies,” written by Alexander Rose, “Turn” primarily follows the formation of the Culper Spy Ring headed up by a farmer named Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell). As the son of magistrate in a small Long Island town, Abraham is an unlikely suspect, though his disdain for the behavior of the British army camped in the area leads him to take action for the opposing side. Despite initially hoping to refrain from involvement in the war, a few coincidental childhood connections with rebels leads Abraham to take on a crucial role in the formation of America’s first spy ring.


            There is plenty in Abraham’s actions to make up the series, but it is about all of the spies rather than just one. Although the inclusion of Washington’s political maneuvering and Benedict Arnold’s slow turn against his own side are intriguing additions that add historical scope to the narrative, it also detracts from the characters the show’s initial set-up leads us to believe are the main protagonists. The reality is that this is far more of an ensemble narrative, often leaving Abraham’s storyline for an endless assortment of supporting characters. They may all play a purpose in the larger historical narrative, but the lack of a primarily protagonist to follow makes the series more difficult to enjoy.


            Along with the historical figures and events added to bolster the narrative, it is also weighed down by several unnecessary love stories, mostly of a tragic nature. Season one introduced us to the love triangle between Abraham, his wife (Meegan Warner), and the woman he actually loves, Anna Strong (Heather Lind). Season two continues this arrangement while also adding another romance in peril on the British side. Some of this is compelling, while other times I found myself wishing for a return to the acts of espionage.


            Season two changes some of the dynamics greatly, but it is mostly just more of what made the first season a success. Despite events such as Abraham being imprisoned for espionage through a number of episodes, the trick of “Turn” is how manipulations and deception ultimately return the story to its original order. No matter what changes, there are certain secrets which can never be exposed, at least as long as the show continues to air. This means that every time they tease the possibility of these secrets being revealed, it is ultimately a bluff which can be easily spotted.


            Season two has ten more episodes, all of which are included on the three discs in this set. The special features have an assortment of featurettes, the best of which is a promotional look inside the series. The other two are about the dynamics of several key relationships in the narrative. Also included in the extras are a handful of deleted and extended scenes.


    Entertainment Value: 6/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance:  5/10

    Special Features: 5.5/10

    Follow Real Movie News on Facebook and Twitter  



    No comments: