‘The Crown’ Season 3 review: Luxuriate in the details, spectacular fashion and brilliant acting

Olivia Colman in ‘The Crown’

Olivia Colman in ‘The Crown’  


Third season of historical drama covering the period between 1964 and 1977, feels like the second in a trilogy and more as a set up for the next season

The genre is listed as historical drama, but how much the sumptuous Netflix show, The Crown is historically accurate? Did Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) single-handedly secure a bailout for England from the US with dirty limericks and hollow legs? Was Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) in a relationship with Andrew Parker-Bowles (Andrew Buchan) when Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Camilla (Emerald Fennell) were seeing each other? Did Charles get relationship advice from the Duke of Windsor (Derek Jacobi)? Was Prince Philip estranged from his mum, Princess Alice (Jane Lapotaire)? Did that all important interview happen?

Maybe the way to enjoy The Crown is to not look too carefully for accuracy but rather luxuriate in the period details, the spectacular fashion, brilliant acting and wait for Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin). Season 3, covering the period between 1964 and 1977, feels like the second in a trilogy and more as a set up for the next season.

The show follows the life of Queen Elizabeth over six seasons with each season covering roughly a decade. The main cast are recast every two seasons. So while Season 1 and 2 had Claire Foy as Elizabeth, Olivia Colman took over in season 3. Matt Smith played Prince Philip in the first two seasons with Tobias Menzies in season 3. Helena Bonham Carter took over from Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, while Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten stepped into Greg Wise’s shoes.

The Crown
  • Season: 3
  • Creator: Peter Morgan
  • Starring: Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Daniels, Jason Watkins, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty, Jane Lapotaire, Charles Dance, Josh O’Connor, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Maloney, Emerald Fennell, Andrew Buchan
  • Episodes: 10
  • Run time: 47 to 61 minutes

Season 3 sees the deaths of Winston Churchill and the Duke of Windsor. There is the unmasking of the queen’s art advisor, Anthony Blunt, as a KGB agent. The stage is set for the great love of Charles and Camilla. Princess Margaret’s marriage disintegrates and she has an extra marital relationship with Roddy Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway from Mr Mercedes). The terrible tragedy in the Welsh village of Aberfan, which resulted in the deaths of 116 children and 28 adults has the queen delay her visit to the village. Though she explains her lack of emotion to Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins), it seems to foreshadow the Queen’s reaction to Lady Diana’s death.

Incidentally, creator Peter Morgan developed the series from The Queen, the 2006 film which followed the queen’s (Helen Mirren) reaction following Lady Diana’s death. Morgan wrote the film as also the play based on the film, The Audience (2013).

The moon landing brings about a mid-life crisis for Prince Philip, while Prince Charles learns Welsh and understands Welsh nationalism before his investiture as the Prince of Wales. The Duke of Windsor’s passing is touching — bringing to mind Milton’s “Calm of mind, all passion spent.” Geraldine Chaplin brings a brittle beauty to Wallace, the woman for whom the Duke abdicated the throne.

The queen’s famous corgis get a starring role and she confesses to her friend Porchey (John Hollingworth) how happy she would be rearing horses and not doing any of the “other thing.”

As far as acting goes, while Foy made for a more likeable Queen Elizabeth, Olivia Colman has made the Queen her own with warmth and humanness. Helena Bonham Carter shines through her scenes like quicksilver singeing all who come near her. The wily Mountbatten is ably personified in Charles Dance and Josh O'Connor has got Prince Charles’ pouty privilege down to the T.

In the episode “Bubbikins” (Princess Alice’s nickname for her son, Philip) a documentary is being shot of the royal family as a damage control exercise after Philip complains on TV about economies meaning giving up his yatch and a pay rise for the queen — his kind words about the Beatles (“they write some marvellous tunes”) in the same interview is unfortunately left out. There is a Joseph Heller-ish feeling about the documentary — very much like Rembrandt painting Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer — all very meta as we the audience watch a show about the British royal family watching a show about themselves. It is enough to make your head spin.

The Crown is on Netflix

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 6:15:01 PM |

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