Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Revisiting Turn

Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge
AMC’s Turn continues to be entertaining, though now that they’ve established the characters and their situations, I wish the script writers would focus more on the actual history of the time and less on the personal drama. They’re reaching if you ask me—unless they have materials available that I haven’t come across. That’s possible, of course. The storyline on Benjamin Tallmadge, however, seems particularly dubious, though the one on Major Andre, from what I know, is probably pretty accurate in general terms. The ending of Sunday’s episode did hint that the focus may be turning, so to speak, more to the spy ring, which I definitely welcome.

There are definitely liberties being taken with history. For example, the last episode totally screwed up the two battles of Trenton and the battle of Princeton by conflating them, changing raging a nor’easter and an ice-choked river into fog and calm water, and then not showing any part of any of the three battles. What a disappointment! The attack was the point of the whole exercise, and leaving it out certainly didn’t give viewers any feel for the magnitude of what Washington and his soldiers accomplished. Instead the story focused on more fictitious personal drama—Tallmadge’s illness due to an accidental dunk into the river. Seriously?

Here’s a link to the History Channel’s minimalist account of the two battles. Indeed, first-hand reports from American soldiers in the first battle decisively debunk the myth that the Hessians were surprised by the attack because they were drunk from celebrating Christmas. In fact, they were on high alert after numerous militia probes over the preceding days. It was the monster nor’easter that concealed the movement of Washington’s corps and allowed them to overrun the Hessians’ defenses before they could mount an effective defense, not dereliction of duty by soldiers who happened to be seasoned professionals!

While you’re on the History Channel site, be sure to check out the page on the Culper Spy Ring and the videos they offer. They’re simplistic, but the one on the winter at Valley Forge is actually pretty good. Ignore the fact that the description about Washington escaping Brooklyn states: General Washington fleas across the East River under cover of darkness. Um…..

If you haven’t watched or need to catch up with the series, be aware that there was a close call between Abe and Anna in this episode as they gave into temptation, only to be interrupted by a British soldier who, in a delicious bit of irony, reminded them of their better natures. Adultery happens, even among Christians, and I can accept its being in a series as long as it’s not explicit and the consequences for both parties are honestly shown, as here. All of us have been tempted in one form or another, and we’ve all given in to it at some point. Let’s not glory in sin, however, and let’s be honest about the damage it does. In this case, neither Abe nor Anna looked too happy when they were confronted by an enemy soldier who humbly called them to account.

We don’t see too many TV shows or movies on the Revolution. What’s your take on this series? Are you enjoying it? Do you feel they’re doing a good job? Are you learning anything about this period and the founding of our country? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

9 comments:

  1. A great review, Joan. I was disappointed to have missed last weeks episode. I would prefer that the violence be not so explicit. And I honestly do not remember some of the movie line being in the book, but it's possible I could have forgotten :-).

    My hope is that this program will get folks excited about our colonial and Revolutionary War period so they will want to learn more about why and how this nation was born . . . oh, and also to want to read our books :-).

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    1. Janet, the series has its ups and downs. I read Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger's Washington's Secret Six, and it sure didn't include a lot of what Turn has. Obviously they have to flesh the history out with a lot of fictional elements to make it long enough for a series. I hate it when they drop important historical events in favor of fiction. What really happened is even more involving and exciting than much of the story line. But I may be prejudiced. lol!

      If you'd like to read my series, I'd be glad to send you a set if you'll email me your address. I really need some new reviews, and if you'd have time to do that--no rush--I would appreciate it so much!

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    2. I'm embarrassed to say this, Joan, that I bought your series of books months ago and just haven't had the time to get to them. I'll try to get to them soon and I'd be happy to write a review on Amazon.

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    3. Oh, Janet, I sure know what it is to be covered up! lol! I'm glad you have them, and once you have time to read them, I'd be delighted if you'd post a review--if you like them. Honest reviews are always appreciated. :-)

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  2. I didn't expect much from a secular show as far as keeping it clean or sticking to the history instead of creating drama, but it's better than I thought it would be. And I'm enjoying people taking a new look at that period in our history.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly with you Tamera. Just getting people to learn something about our nation's founding is a big plus. The show is definitely entertaining, and I'm hoping it'll draw viewers into the period enough that they seek out good--and accurate--books about it.

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  3. Thanks for keeping up the discussion, Joan. Like Janet, I hope this program revitalizes interest in the Revolution! It has been long in coming, IMO.

    And like you, Joan, I think it's a mistake to replace true historical drama with fictional scenes that miss the mark. The real battles were far more amazing and would have kept us gripping our seats!

    What I love is the well played out struggle that the character of Abraham personifies. He is the "Everyman" of the American Revolution who just wants to take care of his family. Yet circumstances have forced him to take sides. And his increasing pain in dealing with his father's choices is so well depicted, you can feel his grief.

    So Huzzah to AMC for doing an excellent job in making the era come alive. But thumbs down to the writers and executives for falling into the 2014 entertainment trap of choosing the more salacious scenes. And yes, I thought the British soldier interrupting the couple making a bad choice was a well-written and surprising addition to the script. :)

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    1. Excellent analysis, Elaine! I really like your insights and agree with you totally. I also especially like when writers throw a bit of a curve ball that challenges your assumptions and gives you a different perspective. Kudos to the writers for that.

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  4. Elaine, I appreciate your insights and agree with you totally! Very good point about Abe being the "Everyman" who shows what it really was like for the people of the day who didn't want trouble but were finally forced to take action. We might all get to that point someday. I also love it when writers challenge our assumptions and force us to look at things from a different and surprising perspective as in the scene with the British soldier. I hope they do more of that because not all the British were brutes. Many were men of high principles doing what they thought was right for king and country.

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