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'Turn' on AMC Tells Story of America's First Spy Ring

Image: 'Turn' on AMC Tells Story of America's First Spy Ring Image shows Heather Lind as Anna Strong, left, and Jamie Bell as Abe Woodhull in a scene from "Turn."

By Nick Sanchez   |   Monday, 07 Apr 2014 11:01 AM

AMC's new television series "Turn" debuted Sunday night, telling the tale of America's first spy ring that helped Gen. George Washington win the Revolutionary War.

The series follows Abe Woodhull, played by Jamie Bell of "Billy Elliot" fame, a Long Island cabbage farmer with a wife, infant, and father who's sympathetic toward the Brits. He's recruited into the Culper Ring, tasked with gathering recon on the redcoats. The story is based on a real-life story chronicled in the book "Washington's Spies" by Alexander Rose.

In the debut episode, Woodhull initially resists becoming involved in the uprisings, focusing instead on his cabbage crop. But he's eventually pulled in by an old friend, Ben Talmadge, played by Seth Numrich, to help create a rebel spy system. His decision becomes clear after watching his childhood sweetheart, Anna (Heather Lind), forced to serve lager-lout redcoats.

"When we first meet him, he's a repressed individual. He wants nothing to do with this war," "Turn" star Bell, 28, tells TV Guide about his character.

"He's an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances. And I think the journey of the character throughout the season is one where he restores his political beliefs. He finds his voice ... He discovers his real love. And he also helps bring about the turning of the tide in the most important conflict in American history."

It remains to be seen if "Turn" will help buoy AMC, which found its legs for original programing over five years ago with the mega-hit "Breaking Bad," and continues to draw viewers with "The Walking Dead."

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Speaking to his hopes for the series, Bell told TV Guide, "I think people are genuinely interested in their own history and I think people are interested in really strong, character-driven pieces of television.

"We're peeling back a layer of the Revolutionary War that I don't think has been captured before, or at least hasn't been focused on ... I think we're humanizing a lot of this period in history that has been in some way forgotten about, or is now just maybe thought of in the wrong light. This is really shedding light on a story that almost nobody knows about, and it's so crucial to the identity of America today."

The series debuted Sunday to mixed reviews from The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

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