Recently there has been a sudden rush of history related television series that are totally “bingeworthy” and packed with high quality battle scenes. If you are bored this summer check out these three series. The shows that I’m speaking of are Turn: Washington’s Spies, Sons of Liberty, and Texas Rising. Turn is definitely the best of the three and airs on AMC usually on Monday nights at 10. It currently has concluded its second season but there is still time to catch up. Turn focuses on Washington’s secretive spy ring that gathered information on British troops and their movements in New York and the surrounding areas during the American Revolution.
The main character is Abraham Woodhull and he becomes a pivotal piece in this elaborate spy ring even though at first he is unwilling to participate. An old friend eventually convinces him to try it because he has skills in smuggling items behind enemy lines and he figured Abe could easily do the same with military intelligence. Abe is in the perfect situation to be a spy because his father is the local magistrate who is a stubborn loyalist. Abe acquires valuable information and gains more and more confidence as he literally sees his military intelligence being converted into tangible results on the battlefield. Abe gets better as time goes on and learns certain procedures to conceal secret messages in different ways for example with invisible ink and hidden messages in eggs. It goes well for Abe for a while until Captain Simcoe enters the picture. He knows that something is very suspicious about Abe and kept trying to catch him red handed by forcing Abe into difficult situations. A rivalry and animosity grows between them but the relationship is interesting to watch for that you never know what is going to happen. This is a great show to start watching and you can buy the first season on DVD but you can only watch season 2 on any on demand service at the moment. Check out this clip.
Sons of Liberty and Texas Rising were miniseries on the History Channel and the styles in which they were presented were very similar. Basically these series begin by developing the characters on a deep level and the show culminates in a massive battle after several episodes. All characters are based on the key individuals of their respective time periods. These shows are freakishly historically accurate as well. In Sons of Liberty, the story mainly focuses on Samuel Adams and reveals his clandestine actions to subvert British authority. We see the occurrences at Lexington and Concord and the Continental Congress, in which Samuel Adams had a significant part. This show is like any American History 101 college course. It is so historically accurate that you could ace that history final easily after watching. The big battle in the last episode was the Battle of Bunker Hill, which is a must see for all history buffs because it is like the only visual recreation of the battle available. Hear that Hollywood make a movie about the Revolution, the Patriot just does not cut it anymore. You can do better than Mel Gibson. This miniseries is available on DVD. Check out this trailer.
Anyway I just saw Texas Rising recently and there is one more episode left airing on Monday. The story occurs immediately after the Alamo and it gets overwhelming with the number of characters that they try to develop. The most notable characters were Sam Houston, Emily West and Santa Anna. Emily is stuck between these two men but it is clear she wants revenge on Santa Anna for killing her brother at the Alamo. She briefly stays under Houston’s protection but is tired of his inaction so she plans to reach Santa Anna and sleep with him so that she can kill him. Throughout the series it is annoying that Houston kept playing it safe except for when he sent the rangers on missions. But in hindsight it paid off and he led Texas to a crushing victory over Santa Anna and the Mexican troops at San Jacinto. Santa Anna’s character development was really basic and boring. He was your typical cocky villain that thought he was invincible. It did appear he was invincible for that he kept winning battles but Houston was the perfect adversary and was patient enough not to fall into his trap. The craziest character was named Lorca and after escaping the Alamo he went on a crazy killing spree, murdering every Mexican that he encountered. He did it in the name of the Lord but he proved to be a valuable asset in the big battle at San Jacinto. (This character does not appear to be based on a real person yet I did appreciate his craziness). His character reminded me of John Brown who went on a rampage to free slaves in the name of God. There are some historical inconsistencies with the characters but the story as a whole does check out in terms of events and battles. Some things in the story were certainly added to make it more interesting but overall it was a good representation of the fight for Texas independence. At the moment this miniseries is only on on-demand services Check out the trailer.