Providential news, TURN fans: “TURN: Washington’s Spies” has officially been renewed for a third 10-episode season, airing in Spring 2016!
— Turn AMC (@TurnAMC) July 15, 2015
The unusually-long five-week silence from AMC had plenty of fans worried. (And we thought LAST year’s waiting period for renewal was long!) As of the time this post was published, AMC had not published a standalone press release, though the news was announced on TURN’s official Facebook page and Twitter account. Oddly enough, the only notice on the show’s official website is a small snippet of text that says “Returns in 2016.” The news was confirmed by reputable entertainment news sites like The Hollywood Reporter, which included the following justification by AMC’s top exec:
“We loved what we saw creatively from the Turn: Washington’s Spies team in season two, and the show achieved something that is increasingly rare in television today — a growing audience during the season,” said AMC and SundanceTV president Charlie Collier. “Turn continues to attract a dedicated and distinctively upscale audience across multiple platforms, and it has carved out a meaningful space in AMC’s ‘eclectic by design’ programming palette. We look forward to working with Craig Silverstein, Barry Josephson, the expanded cast and entire Turn team on season three.”
That’s right, TURN fans — the president of AMC thinks you’re a “distinctively upscale audience”! While we’re happy taking that compliment at face value, other sites have interpreted this to mean that AMC is well aware of the numbers that suggest that TURN’s audience, while small, is markedly more affluent than those of other cable dramas.
In regards to ratings, the same Hollywood Reporter article, however, misrepresents TURN’s anemic Season 2 viewing numbers that originally had AMC executives on the fence about renewal. Season 2 of TURN averaged 1.6 million viewers in “live +7” ratings, not “live + same day” ratings as the Reporter claims. (Other websites list this stat correctly.) “Live +7 ratings” are the most generous numbers you’ll find for any given show, since they take into account a week’s worth of DVR viewings in addition to live numbers for each episode’s debut. TURN’s “live + same day” ratings never broke a million viewers for any episode of Season 2, and were roughly one-half the numbers of Season 1, when the show was in direct competition with Game of Thrones! There is some good news to be gleaned out of these ratings, however: First, as mentioned above, there was a slight uptick in audience numbers as Season 2 went on — and even though numbers didn’t come close to those of TURN’s first season, the trend was going in the right direction. Second, DVR recordings made a huge impact — as TVwise points out, TURN’s viewing audience more than doubled when taking a week’s worth of DVR viewings into account. Apparently TURN is a hot show on DVR and Netflix, in spite of its cringeworthy live numbers. And in this brave new world of multi-platform TV viewing, that merits a thumbs-up from AMC — although, of course, the fact that TURN’s audience is an unusually wealthy one helps, too.
Any way you slice it, this is cause for celebration for TURN fans! This blog will continue to post articles, links, and other TURN news during the off-season, though at a bit of a slower pace than we usually do with live episodes airing. In fact, we’ll have some substantial new scholarly reading on TURN ready for you by month’s end, so stay tuned!
Season 2 of TURN: Washington’s Spies is a wrap, which means we’ve got one last timeline update for the season! You can click on the image above to view the full-size Timeline, or better yet, visit the Timeline Page to view a chronological list of every event along with links for further reading.
The Season 2 Finale merited quite a few additions to the Timeline, including the Battle of Monmouth, one of the largest engagements of the Revolutionary War in terms of troop numbers. John Andre was present, but Benjamin Tallmadge and the 2nd Dragoons were not; historically, the young Marquis de Lafayette played a crucial role in the battle, but TURN left him on the sidelines for the entire episode in spite of having introduced him to much fanfare just a few episodes earlier.
The Thomas Hickey affair (a fascinating true story from earlier in the war) received similarly strange treatment in the finale. In the TURN universe, Hickey was the final piece that wrapped up an episodes-long treasonous plot to kidnap Washington, but the entire scene felt like an afterthought hastily shoved into the last five minutes of the episode. The very title of the Season 2 Finale — “Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot” — was actually a reference to the English poem about Guy Fawkes as quoted in one of the most well-known eyewitness accounts of the Thomas Hickey execution, quoted at the beginning of this well-written summary of the event.
Additionally, we have yet another event to add to the right-hand extreme of the Historical Timeline. A central plot point of the finale episode was Akinbode/Jordan’s plot to take Abigail and Cicero to Canada. As J.L. Bell points out in his latest weekly review of TURN, this makes no sense, given that slavery was legal in all British colonies, including Canada, in 1778. The writers appear to be setting up Canada as some anachronistic, proto-Underground Railroad destination for this sympathetic Revolutionary War family, even though the abolition of slavery in Canada was a gradual process that began in the 1790s and wasn’t complete until well into the 19th century. (You might find a few unexpected TURN-related names if you were to browse the history of slavery and abolition in Canada.)
Finally, there’s also an event in the Timeline related to Peggy Shippen’s final relationship status — even though we’re getting slightly ahead of the show’s chronology — on account of so many readers inquiring about it. (As you can tell from the rest of the Timeline, the actual historical record doesn’t necessarily act as a “spoiler” for TURN, since the show departs so radically from documented history.)
Today: #RenewTURN Twitter Rally
Last year, TURN fans waited two long weeks after the Season 1 finale for confirmation that the show would be renewed for Season 2. We can expect more of the same waiting period this year, if comments made last week by AMC network CEO Josh Sapan are any indication.
According to Variety, Sapan said that the cable network would “assess” the futures of both “TURN: Washington’s Spies” and “Halt and Catch Fire.” Both historical dramas (Yes, the 1980s counts as a historical time period, as depressing as that might be to some) debuted in 2014 and have struggled in the ratings despite amassing small, devoted fanbases. If it’s any consolation, the raw numbers for Season 1 of “Halt & Catch Fire” (in 2014) were very close to the numbers for Season 2 of TURN (in 2015) — and last year AMC gave “Halt and Catch Fire” the green light for another season.
For you devoted TURN fans who are on Twitter, @TurnonAMC (an unofficial handle) is leading an effort to get the hashtag #RenewTURN trending later tonight. Details can be found here. We’ll be keeping tabs on the latest TURN renewal news and will post it on Twitter, Facebook, and (of course) here on the blog once we hear any official word!
This entry was posted in Site updates, TURN news, Uncategorized and tagged 2d light dragoons, 2nd dragoons, amc turn, battle of monmouth, benedict arnold, benjamin tallmadge, george washington, halt and catch fire, historical accuracy, historical timeline, john andre, John Graves Simcoe, peggy shippen, slavery in canada, slavery in the american revolution, thomas hickey, TURN, turn amc, turn ratings, TURN season 2, turn season finale, TURN: Washington's Spies, washington's spies.