Netflix’s new smash American-British period series The Crown follows the biographical story about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to the present day. Reportedly the most expensive series Netflix has made yet, with a staggering budget north of $120 million, that money is obviously worthwhile. From the sets, makeup, and sumptuous costumes to the stunning cast, it succeeds in completely transporting the viewer to another time. Set against the backdrop of a Great Britain still recovering from the impact of World War II, the drama follows the young Queen facing enormous responsibilities to Crown and country. It looks at the intrigue, love lives and political rivalries behind notable events, especially how responsibility to her title affects her family relationships. The crown itself changes their entire family dynamic. It has been billed as the “the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street.”
The most obvious sign of money well spent is The Crown’s brilliant cast. Claire Foy (Wolf Hall) is magnificent as the young Queen and has surpassed all expectations. Matt Smith (Dr. Who) is her beleaguered husband Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has his own problems adjusting to their new stations in life. Already having his own cross to bear in regards to country and family, he is reluctant to concede to the traditions of the British Establishment. But the biggest standout by far has to be John Lithgow. He is completely transformed as cantankerous Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Lithgow said of the role:
“He has two particular on-going dramas. One is teaching the Queen to be a Queen, and the other is hanging onto the role of Prime Minister…A lion in winter.”
The remainder of the cast is all outstanding, particularly Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Ben Miles as Group Captain Peter Townsend, and Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden. All characters we can expect to see in season 2.
First The Bad News
Don’t fall in love too deeply with ANY of the actors because they will be replaced as the story progresses and the characters age. They will be returning for season 2, but as this is projected to be a 6 season project covering about a decade each season of history, obvious changes will have to be made as the story moves forward in time. New performers will be brought on for the third season.
Season 2 has started shooting at locations around the U.K. The series will move forward historically in season two, continuing the young queen’s story through 1964, with one or two different characters. Creator Peter Morgan:
“It’s the post-Churchill era. But it’s still a very particular era of Britain,” Morgan said. “It’s not yet what I would call modern Britain. That would start in the mid-’60s.”
We are also going to be introduced to a lot more of Prince Phillip’s history. As Phillip embarks on a world tour, more focus will be placed on his background. Actor Matt Smith, who plays character Phillip says,
“We learn a lot more about Prince Philip,” he also reveals, “A lot about his past. He had a very interesting past, Philip. Quite a mad past. And we go into that in a lot of detail.”
The Crown makes a solid argument for the exercise of power as the stuff of compelling drama. I expect the series will be a serious player come awards season.
Season 2 should be released in the late fall 2017. Likely, Netflix will see how the show fares in early November and possibly move it to Thanksgiving or the holidays to generate buzz for the series. Netflix typically releases a huge show around Thanksgiving or at the very end of November. Perhaps, next year will be the year for The Crown.