John André’s self-portrait, 1780. George Dudley Seymour Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University
Like all the other history-obsessed Rev War reenactors with basic cable, Mr S and I have been watching ‘Turn’ on AMC, and like some other reenactors, I’ve been lurking on the fringes of the Facebook feeds trashing the show, but hoping a contrarian view would be possible, just to keep things interesting.
So we watched last night with the best intentions: I would not think about shoulder seams, drawstring-neck shifts, circular caps, obvious mascara, white linen shirts on farmers, shirts with neck bands but not collars, a lilac silk cloak on a farmers’ wife, the amazing amount of light candles throw, beards on smugglers who look like they escaped from a spaghetti western… Mr S has learned to live with this and I have learned to keep quieter. He learns best visually, so he really had hopes for this show. I think we all did, even given what we know Hollywood does to historical realities.
Mr S keeps asking, “Where’s the war? Where are the soldiers?”
I keep asking, “Why is Tallmadge allowed to be on his own for so long, and what the heck is wrong with his uniform facings? And he’s a dragoon, where the heck is his horse?”
The low shoulder seams on Woodhull’s leather(?) jacket still make me nuts, though I think Anna serving in the tavern in a pristine white apron over a cranberry silk button-front gown really took the cake last night, costume-wise.
The dialogue howler I enjoyed the most (i.e. caused the final outburst) was Major Andre and his “player” girlfriend who is so not pumping him for information (horrid pun intentionally retained).
If you were the suave Major, you would respond with complete candor to the charming (mascara-eyelashed, obvious foundation-wearing, look out for the lip-gloss) woman’s question: “You will tell me where you’re going on your next secret mission, won’t you?” “Why, sweetie, yes, and let me use my time machine to bring you the Enigma machine and a smallpox vaccination.”
I expect and grudgingly tolerate:
- Bad costuming
- Odd set dressing (highly suspicious table in the church-stable; suspect it would be happier in Amistad)
- The incredible candlepower of candles
- Non-18th century speech rhythms
- Changes to actual events for increased drama
But patently absurd, asinine dialogue on top of all that goes beyond my patience.
I should give it up: Two Advil PM at 8 and I’ll no longer spend an hour every Sunday night performing mental alterations on TV costumes. (Those shoulder seams really annoy me, and could someone try pressing the facings?)
But no; next week, Fort Lee should fall and chances are good Mr S will lead the screen-shouting…