Production values run high within Netflix’s new blockbuster series The Crown, with everything from opulent operating rooms to the sunny waves of Malta providing the backdrop to the show’s royal drama. Centering on the cancer-stricken fall of King George VI, and subsequent rise to power of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown isn’t too far removed from other similarly themed period pieces.
But while Netflix’s series feels unsurprising – the opening hours especially have long, languid stretches – it also revels in the deep pockets of the company’s production department to fascinatingly gorgeous ends. With the added bonus of creator Peter Morgan’s understated writing, the ultimate result is a slow burn of a show that’s entirely worth checking out for anyone interested in this kind of detail-rich historical drama.
The slowly unfolding machinations of the British Monarchy in the mid-20th Century provide the skeleton to the series, beginning with the bloodied handrags of King George VI (Jared Harris) and, according to some reports online, ultimately ending in the present day after six seasons of ten episodes each. For now, season 1 is an introduction and study of King George VI’s successor, Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy), who begins taking on small duties of her father as his heir presumptive after George realizes his spotty cough might be caused by something other than the cold weather.
Those circling the family include Elizabeth’s new husband Philip (Matt Smith), her sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), Margaret’s secret lover Peter (Ben Miles), and newly elected United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill (John Lithgow). The first episode sets up myriad subplots, from Churchill’s ascension in the Monarchy to King George VI’s secret health crisis, to Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage and honeymoon period, and the show accomplishes all of this with the same tenants of its royal characters: it’s graceful, but occasionally stiff.
The Crown Season 1 Review
The grace comes from the aforementioned direction and cinematography, which packs wallops in small doses (that bespeckled operating room, a few gloomy shots of a mist-strewn Buckingham Palace) and climbs to the top of Netflix’s pile of original series in terms of sheer visual appeal. Netflix, apparently, spent an arm and a leg on making the show as true-to-history as possible, and I’d say not a dime went to waste. The show knows how to grip when it wants to as well (history buffs may be a little more ahead of the game, admittedly), creating tense moments, particularly at the end of episode 1, from otherwise largely innocuous events.
Unfortunately, some of those largely innocuous events can be a slog. Similar in spirit to Netflix’s Marco Polo, The Crown is lavishly drawn, but sometimes gets lost in its own muddled drama. On the one hand, the show doesn’t hold your hand and assumes you’re smart enough to keep up with all of the plentiful characters, time jumps, and politics during your inevitable Netflix binge. Yet, on the other hand, that lack of direct insight into exactly who some people are can frustrate the show’s early hours. Like Marco Polo, the more you stick with The Crown‘s deliberate storytelling, the easier it is to go along with Morgan’s vision.
A lot on that rides on the jittery shoulders of the apprehensive heir-in-waiting at the show’s center. Foy is appropriately delightful as the young Queen, and she gets to do and say a lot – as a proper Queen should – without saying much herself. As Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins) states after Elizabeth’s wedding, a match not many in the government supported, “She turned us all on our heads, and barely opened her mouth in the process.” Foy fills the role with the quiet power it needs, and manages to feel like a true progenitor of the real Elizabeth in the process.
Her story also reverberates nicely in 2016, looking back at the issues and early criticism she fought as a woman rising to power, and the men who dictated her rule. Morgan takes the intimately personal approach to depicting the royal family, and it’s consistently intriguing to see the mistakes, successes, and power grabs that built an entire society, all tangibly believable in retrospect. The opening scene of a grand, poised King George VI hacking up bloody vomit into a toilet is weirdly on point for a show aiming to explain how the bricks of the modern Monarchy were stacked with personal strife.
If The Crown doesn’t reach those shocking heights all-too-often, it at least stays seriously true to its historical characters throughout. The show, in its best moments, is a perfect mix of pristine elegance and soap opera schlock, all while finding ways to string along its bingeing Netflix subjects through to the next slowly unfurling royal crisis. Although its weaker subplots further hamper a simmering series (Margaret and Peter’s affair is a dud), when The Crown has the full force of its best features at the forefront – beautiful locations, winning actors, sly dialogue – it’s one of the best things you can get lost in among Netflix’s steadily overwhelming crop of original content.
The Crown S01e10 Srt Sub Subtitle Download
The lavishly made The Crown (now streaming on Netflix) is disconcerting from the get-go. In the opening scene we see George VI (Jared Harris) coughing up specks of blood into a toilet bowl. The bathroom he’s in looks archaic and drab. This man, the King himself, looks utterly enervated.
Soon after, viewers see the King being dressed – a small army of staff help him with his collar and tie. He’s a bit tetchy and he looks unwell and anxious. A rude limerick is used to cheer him up and get him through the ordeal.
For all the lavishness of costumes and the vast budget spent on the 10-part series – reportedly $125-million (U.S.) – there is something almost cinéma vérité about The Crown at times. In style and tone, the early episodes hark back to the British kitchen-sink dramas of the early 1960s. There is an emphasis on the grimness of life, even in Buckingham Palace and on royal estates. There is a sense that royal life is, a lot of the time, a matter of domestic drudgery and, further, rather like those British dramas of the early 1960s that portrayed working life with grim focus on the monotony of existence, The Crown is presenting its royal character as trapped, boxed-in and vitiated.
It’s a startling approach and it works – by emphasizing the rule-driven, grimly traditionalist existence of the Windsors, the series makes them sympathetic. They are anachronisms, cooped up in this strange, sometimes terrifyingly restrictive world. Curiosities to the outside world, they are rather like caged grotesques, occasionally trotted out for the world to gawp at them.
Some of us approached The Crown with wariness – another epic costume drama about royal personages featuring a royal wedding, a coronation and, one suspected, a slavish reverence for all things English, upper class and twee. The sort of thing that brings a lot of tourists to England every year; a Downton Abbey on steroids with an even bigger frock budget and toffs being frightfully busy doing very toff things. It is, thankfully, so much better than that.
Peter Morgan, a dab hand with the royal genre, having written The Queen and the stage play The Audience, wrote The Crown and in the first series the aim is to chronicle the lives of the Windsors from 1947 to 1956. First off, Claire Foy gives a remarkable performance as Elizabeth – carefully underplaying, almost muted in her delivery of a young woman expecting to live a rather ordinary though royally posh life, and then elevated and essentially incarcerated as Queen. The incarceration aspect is underlined by the attention given to the many men in suits who are almost Dickensian severe in their insistence on protocol, rules and imitations.
Even Matt Smith’s portrayal of Prince Philip is surprisingly empathetic. As a man whose gaffe-prone snobbishness has been caricatured with abandon, this Philip comes across as another trapped figure – essentially decent and unworldly but willing to strive for a comfortable domesticity, he’s a man quietly bristling at the enslaving rules and regulations to which he must adhere. Casting John Lithgow as Churchill was a stroke of genius – unburdened by an English actor’s reverence for the role and bringing a gravitas to it that is outside the English tradition, he inhabits the man with a vigour and sass that is fiendishly endearing.
Having Stephen Daldry on board as a producer and as director of the first two episodes is also an important addition. Daldry made a major splash with Billy Elliot, a film set in the grim northeast of England during the miner’s strike and that film is linked in style and method to those cinéma vérité English movies of the 1960s that sought to portray the sour, doggedly restricted life of the English working class. It’s by bringing that same approach – the underlining of restrictions – that The Crown transcends the genre of costume drama about the royals and brings its characters to life with empathy and remarkable dramatic force.
The Beaverton (Comedy, 10:30 p.m.) is the Comedy Network’s shot at a satirical Canadian news show. Heaven knows, we need a fresh one. Co-hosts Emma Hunter and Miguel Rivas anchor the 13-episode, 30-minute series, with help from “reporters” Aisha Alfa, Donavon Stinson, Laura Cilevitz and Marilla Wex. Some of the advance “bits” are definitely funny. Good luck to all with it.
Parents need to know that The Crown focuses on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, exploring what it means to be a public figure and the tension among politics, power, and personal freedoms. You’ll hear words like “Christ’s sakes,” “bloody hell,” and “c–t” and see some partial nudity (including bare breasts in a tribal setting and a fully naked man filmed from behind). One storyline involves an extramarital affair between a married staffer and a member of the royal family. Other visuals include graphic surgery scenes with some blood, and characters smoke cigars and cigarettes and drink socially.
Netflix’s most expensive series to date pays off with a beautifully acted and impeccably designed drama that’s also one of its very best — and not because it’s been engineered for binging. Quite the opposite, as each episode is structured to not necessarily blend into the next but to stand satisfyingly on its own, like an artfully wrapped package that’s waiting to be opened when you’re ready. It’s a novel approach for a streaming television series that makes The Crown and its noticeable lack of cliffhangers feel revolutionary compared to some of its peers.
Those looking for an escape, whether from one’s daily drudgeries or the uncertainties of modern politics, will likely find The Crown a welcome refuge. But it serves up more than dazzling visual extravagances. It also delivers thoughtful and complex messages about power, corruption, gender, and leadership that, for a period piece, have surprising relevance.