By Amy Dawes | Thompson on Hollywood January 11, 2014 at 9:13PM
With two of its signature shows becoming past tense, AMC is
reaching even deeper into the past to stake out its future, presenting "Turn,"
a high tension spy thriller set in the American Revolutionary War, as its
newest scripted offering, set to debut Sunday, April 7. Meanwhile, "Mad Men" will return
one week later, on April 13, with the first of seven episodes in the "first
half" of its final season, and "Better Call Saul," a spin-off from
the channel's now concluded "Breaking Bad," will premiere in
November, AMC president Charlie Collier announced Saturday morning on
day three of the winter session of the Television Critics Association (TCA)
press tour in Pasadena.
"Turn" stars Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliott") in what AMC is calling a character-driven thriller about the untold story of America's first spy ring, which came to light in the recent book "Washington's Spies," by Alexander Rose. "General Washington was getting his ass kicked by the sophisticated espionage of the British Army," said exec producer Barry Josephson. Help emerged in the form of the Culper Ring, a grassroots group of double-agents formed by a group of childhood friends. "In a way it's the first American spy story," said exec producer and showrunner Craig Silverstein. "They worked out much of the modern craft by necessity, through trial and error." Based on the clips, the beautifully shot series, which spans ten episodes in its first season, covering eight years of the war, appears to do a vibrantly effective job of capturing the high tension and grave stakes of that dangerous undertaking.
AMC also screened footage from another, more contemporary period piece that will debut in the summer. "Halt and Catch Fire," set in the early 1980s, captures the race by engineers and entrepreneurs to come out ahead during the revolution spawned by the rise of the personal computer (it joins HBO's new comedy "Silicon Valley" in mining the tech sector for entertainment).
"Everyone wants to know how we're going to replace "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" -- we're not," said Collier. "We're going to continue in our goal of developing eclectic premium content for basic cable," he said, noting that "some of the most audacious creative talents out there are now bringing their projects to us first."