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‘Turn’ Review Roundup: Is AMC’s New Period Piece Revolutionary?

Sun, April 6, 2014 2:45pm EDT by Elizabeth Wagmeister 1 Comment

AMC is taking a shot at the period piece genre with its brand new spy series ‘Turn’. Is the American spy drama a revolutionary hit? Keep reading to find out!

Turn premieres tonight and we’ve got your review roundup! Will you be tuning in? Hear what the pros had to say about the espionage drama to see if it’s must-see TV!

‘Turn’ Premieres on AMC

The network that brought you Mad Men and The Walking Dead is heading back to the 1700’s for its brand new American Revolutionary war drama, Turn. The series about America’s first spy ring is based on Alexander Rose‘s book Washington’s Spies and stars Jamie Bell. Is it a hit? See what the critics have to say!


As a fan of period pieces in general, there’s little pleasure in saying AMC should perhaps steer clear of them for a while. Because in the wake of Western Hell on Wheels comes the new Revolutionary War-era drama Turn, which doesn’t turn fast enough, alas, to breathe life into its characters or setting during an extended 90-minute premiere. Dense, dank and atmospheric, the series certainly has all the trappings of a prestige cable drama, but lacks the vigor of a first-rate spy thriller. Besides, if Ben Franklin were around today, he’d probably be more curious about what’s on Cinemax.

The Daily Beast

The ambiguously-titled Turn…provides precious little historical context — no placards, no In a galaxy far, far, away… intro scroll. It just teleports you to 1776…This odd omission may be why many TV critics weren’t exactly wowed by the 90-minute season premiere—which is a shame, because they, and their acolytes, are missing out on a helluva show.

The Huffington Post

Turn had such potential…As the lead, Jamie Bell is a capable performer, but that only makes most of his scene partners seem even more bland. The time period could have been a plus as well: There have been many spy dramas on TV during the last couple of decades, but setting one in the era of the Redcoats and the Culper Ring felt like a fresh, exciting idea. In theory, that is.

USA Today

Still, those scenes of soldiers purposefully stalking through the battlefields spearing the wounded are more than just a distortion. In TV terms, they’re an example of the sick, excessive gore and violence that shows, particularly on cable, seem to feel they need to attract the young male audience they so vigorously pursue. It’s dehumanizing, and it’s one of the worst directions TV has taken.

TV Guide

The confusing nature of the first episode might reflect the murkiness of the alliances depicted in the show, but that’s almost definitely too generous of an explanation. While Turn‘s political specifics may sail over viewers’ heads on an initial viewing, historically accurate phrases and customs are subtly woven in throughout, and the costumes alone are like porn for history nerds. And the pilot does succeed in setting up the show’s other central conflict…

Los Angeles Times

Turn is not a deeply etched psychological portrait of man struggling with identity and inner demons. It’s a good old-fashioned historical action drama in which the bad guys are clearly marked — they’re wearing red! — and the stakes are as high as they get (life, liberty, etc.).


Turn premieres Sunday, April 6 at 9/8c on AMC.

HollywoodLifers, are you excited for Turn? Let us know if you think it’ll be a hit!

— Elizabeth Wagmeister

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