On AMC, a “Turn” Toward Revolutionary TV

Jamie Bell tolls for revolution on Turn on AMC.
Jamie Bell tolls for revolution on Turn on AMC.
Jamie Bell tolls for revolution on Turn on AMC.

Maybe it’s because I was born in Brooklyn, or maybe it’s because I grew up on Long Island or maybe it’s because I’m an American historian. It’s probably all three, which is why I love the new AMC series Turn. Set during the American Revolution, Turn stars Jamie Bell as Abe Woodhull, a farmer from Setauket, Long Island who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form the Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America’s fight for independence. This is an unknown part of our history — and an important one, considering the state of affairs today with the CIA, FBI, DIA, NSA, NCIS, OICI, DEA, LSMFT, et. al. It all had to start somewhere and Turn is it. So if you love shows like Fringe, Homeland, Covert Affairs (my personal fave), 24, the UK’s MI5, or even going back to the golden age of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., this is the show for you! With only one episode aired thus far, it’s hard to tell if Turn will turn on viewers, but if the pilot is any indication, I’m sold on it. Don’t forget who told you about The Blacklist, Orphan Black (which is back on the air this weekend) and Sleepy Hollow.

Donnie Wahlberg and Marisa Ramirez in Blue Bloods
Wahlberg and Ramirez in Blue Bloods

A Family in Blue
Blue Bloods is more of a family drama than a police procedural, especially in each episode when four generations — including three generations of cops, one of whom is the current police commissioner, plus a daughter (Bridget Moynahan), who is a Manhattan associate district attorney — sit down to family dinner. Tom Selleck heads a great cast, along with Donnie (my favorite) Wahlberg and Len Cariou. This family is more about honor and integrity than catching the bad guys, although there’s a lot of that, too. It’s just so well-written and well-acted and is one of the best New York shows since Law & Order.

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Cedric Entertains
I was never a big Cedric the Entertainer fan, but watching him on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? made me curious. So I started to watch his show, The Soul Man, and I finally understand what all the fuss is about. In the TV Land comedy, Cedric is R&B superstar-turned-minister Reverend Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine, who was living the high life in Las Vegas at the top of the music charts when he gets the calling to go from soul singer to soul saver. Relocating to St. Louis with his wife Lolli (the spot-on Niecy Nash) and his daughter Lyric (Jazz Raycole), he takes over the preaching duties in his father’s church and therein lies the hilarious hijinks. With a cast that also includes Hattie Winston, Kim Coles, Martin Lawrence and Loretta Devine as various family and friends who pop up now and then in various episodes, this a fun ride. Check it out!

Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney

Dimming Lights
It seems with every column, another star’s light is dimmed. This week it was John Pinette and Mickey Rooney. The hysterically funny John Pinette, who was a friend — a great guy who never failed to make everyone laugh. Whether it was at a comedy club, on TV (Seinfeld) or on Broadway in a dress (Hairspray), Pinette was brilliant, which made his death at age 50 so much more tragic. On the other end of the age spectrum was Mickey Rooney, who passed away the day after Pinette at age 93. Rooney was the last of the great stars who came up through the MGM system. He was old Hollywood: the marriages (eight is enough!), the drinking, the gambling, the wild spending, burning through his earnings — and leaving an estate of only $18,000 to show for 90 years worth of performing. But oh, what wonderful performances they were! From Andy Hardy to Boys Town to Mickey and Judy to The Black Stallion to Sugar Babies to his Emmy-winning performance in Bill to Night at the Museum, Rooney never stopped working. He was a special man, one loved by all, and we will never see his kind again.

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Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality…. (Emily Dickinson)

This Week on the Tube
The best thing about my favorite comedy isn’t Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj, it’s Penny, Bernadette and Amy. These three women couldn’t be more different, but their chemistry makes for some of the most hilarious scenes in The Big Bang Theory. Whether it’s downing volumes of wine at Penny’s or out to dinner with the boys, these three are the funniest, most under-appreciated, women on TV today. I say ROAD TRIP!

Best TV Moment of the Week
In the “payback’s a bitch” department, the Taco Bell commercial with all those guys named Ronald McDonald.

And don’t me get started…
All those DOAs – seriously? Carter on Person of Interest, Neil on Once Upon A Time, Will Gardner on The Good Wife and now A.J. Quartermaine on General Hospital? Oh sure, in Game of Thrones you expect death on a weekly basis, but killing off major characters of major shows?

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The TV Junkie was preceded in her family by a large mahogany cabinet that housed a small screen with a large speaker below. Thus began her love affair with the older sibling in the living room. Theirs was a tenuous relationship, prone to mishaps (forgetting to use the special "screen" for Winky Dink), joyous events (Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall), sad moments (Clarabelle saying goodbye to the Peanut Gallery) and a wide range of emotions (the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the Inauguration of Barack Obama). From Captain Video to Star Trek to Lost; from A Brighter Day to The Edge of Night to One Life to Live; from Peyton Place to Dynasty to Desperate Housewives; there has never been a greater love, than that of the TVJ and the best friend a girl could ever have. Like "The TV Junkie" on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @thetvjunkiepml.