The third title releasing from Anchor Bay today is AMC’s first season of the smart, tightly paced character drama set during the American Revolutionary War. Taking its cues from actual historical figures and events, the series charts the creation and implementation of a spy ring that served as Washington’s source of information on the British.
Leading the cast is Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodull, a farmer living on British-occupied Setauket on Long Island, his father, Richard (Kevin McNally) is the town magistrate, while his wife, Mary (Meegan Warner) is a loyalist.
Governing the town, in the name of the British Empire is Major Hewlett (Burn Gorman), who has a number of red coats at his disposal, including the troubling John Simcoe (Samuel Roukin).
But there is more at stake than one island, there is the whole of America, and the series is filled with a tapestry of characters from all sides bringing history and spycraft in the revolutionary war to life, and neither side is completely righteous, neither side is without their grey shadings, such as, the subject of slavery is touched on, with the British freeing slaves, while the Americans are quite happy to keep them.
There is a group of Royal Rangers, led by Robert Rogers (Angus Mcfadyen) hunting down American forces wherever he can, and playing the game viciously and adeptly. But playing the game right back is Ben Talmadge (Seth Numrich) and Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall), both of whom are childhood friends of Abraham’s.
Together, and with the help of Abraham’s first love, and now married, Anna Strong (Heather Lind) a secretive line of communication is created, and Abraham begins to feed information to Washington’s (Ian Kahn) forces.
There is treachery, deception, attacks, ambushes, sex, temptation, and historical fact, woven together to form an impressive first season that completely wowed me, and left a number of characters in dire straits by the time it ended.
All of this is wrapped up in a painstakingly recreated, and highly detailed recreation of the 18th century. The level of attention paid to the creation of this series is amazing, filled with things many viewers would just take for granted, but it adds such a reality to the series.
Bell leads a fantastic ensemble cast, one that feels perfectly cast as story threads are woven together to form a much larger image of a war for a blossoming country. I love the beginning of spycraft, I love the character arcs and development… this is definitely one to watch! There were countless moments that had me completely caught up, a testament to the script and the performances.
I mainlined the entire series in the space of about a day and a half, and found it smart, engaging, brilliantly entertaining with some fantastic writing. I think I’ll be tuning in once season two gets underway (which begins 13 April), but if you’re like me, and hadn’t truly been aware of the series, it’s definitely worth a look!