RICHMOND, Va. — Seth Numrich can’t quite get a straight answer. In character as Ben Tallmadge, the leader of a group of Revolutionary War spies known as the Culper Ring and a central character in the new AMC drama “Turn,” he is interrogating a ragged-looking background player whose toes have been painted black to mimic frostbite.
The unfortunate man is a scout who has failed to relay crucial information to Tallmadge and fellow spy Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall), who are working on behalf of Gen. George Washington, and his explanation for the botched mission is suspicious at best: He claims he fell in the river because he was blinded by fog.
“It’s very difficult to gather intelligence when we possess so little of it,” says a frustrated Tallmadge, exiting a makeshift hospital tent that appears situated in a dense thicket of woods but is actually inside a giant converted warehouse.
The space is so vast that crew members bike among the many sets, which include a two-story barn with a dirt floor and Colonial-style living quarters with working fireplaces. In a nice twist, the warehouse once housed an IRS facility.
“God knows what happened here, what was repossessed,” jokes Barry Josephson, “Turn’s” amiable executive producer.
Premiering Sunday, “Turn” focuses on a conflict in American history that continues to reverberate politically but has failed to captivate the popular imagination in the same way as the Civil War or World War II.
It also arrives at a moment of transition for AMC. After the end of “Breaking Bad” and with “Mad Men” entering its final season, the question now is whether the network can maintain its reputation for top-notch, culture-shifting drama.