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Heather Lind stars in Turn, premiering Sunday on AMC.

There probably aren't a lot of people like me who would look back on their high school years and point to American history as their favorite subject. I know. Weird kid.

I'll credit that love of history to a really passionate teacher who excelled at bringing the material to vivid, wondrous life. A true talent. Still, I can't recall good ol' Mrs. Devincenzi ever lecturing about the American spies of the Revolutionary War.

Then again, who did? Thankfully, they finally get their due in "Turn," a new AMC drama series debuting Sunday. Without these courageous but largely overlooked patriots, we might not be setting off firecrackers every Fourth of July.

Based on recent research by historian Alexander Rose, "Turn" follows the adventures of Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell), a Long Island cabbage farmer who is recruited by childhood friends to spy on the Redcoats for George Washington. Together, they make up the Culper Ring, a band of brothers who played a key role in turning the tide of the war in favor of the American rebels.

Abe doesn't perform his shadowy duties without hesitation. He has a wife and toddler son to care for, after all. And being a secret agent back then was considered an ignoble profession, more appropriate for cheats and scoundrels than gentlemen.

Moreover, the war wasn't exactly a simple us-against-them battle, as we often hear in school. Many stateside citizens, including Abe's wealthy father (Kevin McNally), had loyal ties to the Brits. So it was more like neighbor-vs.-neighbor, a dynamic complicated by the fact that Redcoat soldiers lived among them, occupying American homes.

Delving into the dusty pages of history might seem to be a questionable move for AMC, which built a reputation for must-see programming on the backs of philandering ad agents, cancer-stricken meth dealers and reanimated corpses. But "Turn" does have several things going for it.

The cast, led by Bell, is sturdy; the costumes are cool, and the camera work is luscious. Toss in some tense covert operations and a bit of romance, and you've got the makings of a potentially fascinating series.

We say "potentially" because "Turn" is just good enough to make you wish it were better. The story piques your curiosity, but it takes too long to gain traction. The characters are certainly functional, but they lack compelling quirks. The subject matter is worthy, but it just doesn't crackle.

In other words, "Turn" feels a little too much like homework. Where is Mrs. Devincenzi when you need her?

OPRAH'S ON HER WAY: The Oprah Winfrey experience is coming to San Jose.

The media mogul -- and one of the most influential women in the world -- will embark on an eight-city tour this fall that will finish up with a Nov. 14-15 appearance at the SAP Center.

It's called "Oprah's the Life You Want Weekend" tour, and the plan is to pack arenas for a two-day experience. Friday will feature a keynote speech by Winfrey, who will share her personal story and advice. That will be followed by a full day of group activities and speakers picked by Winfrey. Among those signed to participate: "Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert, pastor Rob Bell, OWN star Iyanla Vanzant and, in select cities, guru Deepak Chopra.

Tickets, starting at $99, will go on sale to the general public beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at www.oprah.com/tour.

"All of my life I have wanted to lead people to an empathy space. To a gratitude space," Winfrey said in a media release. "I want us all to fulfill our greatest potential. To find our calling and summon the courage to live it."

THIS 'N' THAT: Monday is also the final day to submit ticket applications for the "Antiques Roadshow" summer tour stop in Santa Clara. The popular PBS collectors' series arrives in the South Bay on June 7 to shoot three episodes. Approximately 6,000 free tickets will be awarded via random drawing. To apply, go to www.pbs.org/roadshow/tickets. ... Meanwhile, sign-ups continue to be accepted for Tri-Valley TV's sixth annual summer camp in Pleasanton. Serving youths in grades 6-12, this really cool experience includes basic training in studio production, field production, writing, producing and digital editing. Participants will work to produce a TV program that will air on TV30. For more information, go to www.tv30.org or call 925-462-3030. ... Just as "Silicon Valley," a new comedy from Mike Judge, gets ready to rev up on HBO, another tech-centric show has been pronounced dead. "Betas," an online series from Amazon Studios, has been canceled after one season.

Contact Chuck Barney at cbarney@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.

'turn'

* * ½

When: 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: AMC