Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Remember When . . . TURN Gets Creative?

Well, I was a week behind, but I did finally watch Turn on Sunday, both the pilot and the second episode. And thus far I'm enjoying it! I think I have an immunity to on-screen violence, at least when it's Hollywood style (Which is to say, home videos that involve people getting hurt make me wince and look away and refuse to look back. But I can handle zombie or wartime on-screen violence without any trouble. Consider that a disclaimer for anyone with a sensitive stomach, LOL.), though I know it was a bit much for some of my friends.

And of course, I spent much of my time comparing their version of events with the history recorded by Alexander Rose in Washington's Spies, which I used for my research in Ring of Secrets.

Overall, I really love the creative license they've taken. They're building tension in a way that translates well to the screen, which is crucial. The actual tension was merely (merely--ha!) in the fear of being discovered by random troops while getting word to Washington, but that doesn't exactly keep viewers on the edge of their seats, right? So they instead put the actual big-players of covert operations together, though they weren't in reality.

Some differences I noted and approve:

Rogers. Rogers Rangers really were the menace of the northern campaign. They were ruthless, successful, and feared universally by the Patriots. Was Rogers ever in Setauket? Not that I recall. Did he recruit Abraham Woodhull to work for him? Um, no. Does it play well on TV? Absolutely! Love that they found a way to draw him into their story. I was going to mention him in Ring of Secrets, but he had resigned (or rather, had been forced to resign) by the time my story took place.

Anna Strong. One of the TV show's most vital threads thus far is the relationship between Anna and Abraham. The show has billed them as formerly-engaged, still in love despite both of them being married to other people. This is an incredibly compelling element, and I do approve of how they're using it (so long as they don't introduce an affair. I really, really, really hope they don't go there--hear that, AMC??). BUT--Anna was in fact a decade older than Abraham, not a former love-interest. Abraham's wife, Mary, was a relative of Selah Strong (Anna's husband). They were neighbors, yes, and Anna helped him in his covert activities, yes. She in fact posed as his wife when he was transporting letters to Brewster. You see, single men traveling alone were stopped and searched--couples were not. So Anna volunteered to go with him, and no one thought to ask if she were his wife.

That is, alas, were their relationship ended. But that's not nearly interesting enough for TV, LOL.

Mary Woodhull. Quite simply, Abraham wasn't married at this point in history, LOL. There was no Mary Woodhull yet. They wed in 1781, after the war, and had three children--two of whom ended up marrying Brewsters.

Which leads us to...

Caleb Brewster. Brewster is one of my favorite historical characters from the Culper Ring, though I didn't get to mention him much in Ring of Secrets. This guy was a Colonial daredevil, always seeking an adventure. He's the one member of the Culpers who refused a code name--and the perpetual thorn in the side of Rogers and others like him, always evading them. So far as I recall, he never beat the snot of Simcoe. Nor did Tallmadge face court martial for such an act. But you know--their Simcoe deserved it, so no arguments from me. ;-)

So those are my early observations on where fiction lives in Turn. I can't wait to see how they introduce the other historical figures that took on roles in the Culper Ring!


  1. I only watched to first espiside and so far I enjoyed it and the cast.

    Thank you for the mini history lesson :)
    I will pass on the historical tibits I just learned from you to my husband, who watches the show with me.

    1. I wanted to check up on some more things, but was running out of time to dedicate to this post, LOL. Maybe next week, I'll look into Simcoe...

  2. I have of seen it yet. I hope to watch it. It sounds great.

    1. It's off to a strong start! Just do be aware that it's violent, if that bothers you. Honestly, I barely noticed that, but several of my friends commented on it.

      I guess after spending most of my Sunday nights with The Walking Dead, this one just didn't faze me, LOL.

  3. As your know my daughter is huge AR history buff, we've been watching this on Amazon and find it intriguing. Yes, it can be very bloody but I've seen other shows that have portrayed bloodier scenes in the Patriot and Glory. I'm also with you on hoping they don't take it so far as to them having an affair. I believe that would crush it for me! I love the introduction scene and song! Wow, so intriguing!

    1. I know--I'm always so disappointed when adultery is in a show for no good reason. I mean, I understand if it's part of the character's character, and the show is partially about the consequences of it. But when it's just for drama? No thanks.

      Very unique intro, for sure!