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AMC and Sundance Channel Unveil New Drama Series at TV Critics Panel, 'Rectify' and 'Returned' Are Back

Photo of Amy Dawes 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. Meanwhile, sister network The Sundance Channel revealed a spate of original programming during the 2014 Television Critics Association press tour.
Jamie Bell in AMC's "Turn."
Jamie Bell in AMC's "Turn."

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."

This article is related to: News, Television Critics Association Awards, Television, Rectify, Jamie Bell, James Gray, James Gray, AMC, Mad Men, SundanceTV, TV, TV News

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.