This post is written by our correspondent Lee Liberman
TURN will nevertheless please American History buffs more than spy thrill-seekers, at least to begin with. It's the story of three real American heroes who grew up together in Setauket, Long Island, NY to become the core of the Culper Spy Ring that helped General Washington outwit the British. A history of the Culper ring was published in 2006 by historian Alexander Rose (below) in his book Washington's Spies, a lively and highly-praised history of their activities.
Braveheart and Outlander revealed the horror the Crown imposed on the Scots -- it was equally intolerable in Red-occupied U.S., particularly New York, where British operations and "lobsterback" soldiers were headquartered. Nor do we think of the Revolutionary period as a daily domestic political struggle between Crown-loyal Americans (tories) and American whig patriots who sought independence. Our own Red vs Blue politics can't be more dramatic than Red-Blue political differences during the Revolution that set families and neighbors in anger, if not spy-mode, against each other.
Angus MacFadyen (Robert the Bruce in Braveheart), above. MacFadyen is now bulky, boisterous, and as Robert Rogers, a thorn in all sides.
Seth Numrich, r); Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall, l), a scrappy bearded adventurer who served on whaling ships before settling into his role as army courier reporting to his friend Tallmadge; and their very reluctant cohort Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliott, ctr) who became collector of data behind enemy lines, using the nom-de-guerre of Culper. In Setauket, Woodhall represented himself as pro-Crown while continuing to compile information about troop movements, activities, and numbers to pass to Washington through Brewster. A fourth compatriot was Anna Strong (Heather Lind, center right) made out here to be the doomed love interest of Woodhull, but in history years older than him and unlikely to have been his lover. Still, a love story was needed and Strong was party to information gathering. Further family dealings, also likely fictional, include Abe's Setauket magistrate father (Kevin McNally), a Tory, and Abe's mostly annoying pious Tory wife Mary (Meegan Warner), both of whom Abe must deceive.
Major Hewlett describes the colonies as in a state of anarchy -- chaos masquerading as freedom, an excuse for criminal activity and every man for himself. Woodhull mutters under his breath: self-rule.
AMC, Monday's at 9 pm. Abe Woodhull, aka Samuel Culper, is now a crucial participant in intelligence gathering, engaging in a dangerous double spy game, above.
Mel Gibson's trumped up good-vs-evil film, The Patriot.