Last year I enthusiastically described Peter Morgan's "The Crown" with the word "very rich". "The second season of this biographical series on the young Queen Elizabeth II, profusely elaborated, deserves an improvement in the praise, while recognizing that the show has discovered its peak and has faded a bit.
So now it is … scrumpdillyicious, perhaps? In an effort to be more, "The Crown", which offers 10 new robust episodes on Netflix Friday, becomes too intermittent.
But I doubt you'll hear fanatics complain as they devour each and every one of them: the way Elizabeth (Claire Foy) applies butter to her baked goods as a means to quietly torment her VIP guest, Jacqueline Kennedy (Jodi Balfour), over a period of time teatime between two women with markedly different approaches to the fame of the twentieth century.This is the kind of program you look at with the hope that it will give you too much of everything.
That said, "The Crown" brings amazing Less push this time and take noticeably more liberties with historical and chronological facts. We return more or less where we left off at the end of the 1950s: Winston Churchill has been replaced (which unfortunately does not mean John Lithgow anymore) by a rapid sequence of prime ministers (Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Anton Lesser as Harold Macmillan) , while Elizabeth and her husband, Philip (Matt Smith), have fallen into a cyclical pattern of fragile marriage followed by periods of distension enough to produce two more children.
She is sure that she is cheating; the connoisseurs of the palace are sure that he is deceiving; the spectators are sure that he is cheating; however, "The Crown" remains shy about catching Philip in the act. "We all know how it works," complains Philip, when he is forced to fire his chief confidant and playboy companion (who is going through a public divorce that threatens to embarrass the palace). "There is no room for mistakes, there is no place for scandal." There is no place for humanity. "
He refers to humanity in his pants, there is enough of this macho misery in the first episodes, which focus too much on Philip's wounded ego and his extensive tour of goodwill by the British Empire ( where temptations abound and cheap beards of rubber spirit suit are worn like Felipe's ship) crosses symbolically the frigid Arctic)
After that, "The Crown" is more like his old self, identifying historical events ( the launch of Sputnik, the Profumo scandal, African colonies in rebellion), but always attached to family matters The fifth episode, "Marionettes", tells the palace's calculations at last with its own heavy image, since the Second Baron Altrincham (John Heffernan) writes an editorial in the National and English Review that drastically criticizes the queen's remote style and the rigid delivery of her terribly snobbish speeches. and ridiculed by the loyal, Lord Altrincham manages to have an impact on public opinion and, eventually, on the queen herself.
Here, Foy shows off his greatest skill, which is transmitting Elizabeth's almost wordless deceptions and vulnerabilities through all that power and lip-smacking resolution. She still rules, but, as the Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton) astutely observes, the Empire is shrinking and her daughter must learn to be more a symbolic queen than a real one: a puppet for the people. This means that you will have to start doing the live TV addresses instead of the radio; she will have to go out and meet more ordinary people. He is on the verge of a change that will define his long reign.
However, for each step forward, a setback. After accepting a new, shorter and more modern hairstyle, Philip is there to undermine his confidence. "I thought you were expecting to have more children from me"
"I am," answers Elizabeth.
"Then, why would you do something like that in your hair?"
"What about that? I thought it was orderly and sensible."
"Adjectives to remove the loins".
A visit from the president of the USA. UU., John F. Kennedy ("Dexter's" Michael C. Hall) and Jackie has an intimidating and life-giving effect on royalty; Elizabeth learns one or two things from the first lady about the uses of celebrity distraction in diplomacy. Meanwhile, her sister, Margaret (Vanessa Kirby), continues to suffer exquisitely, as in a general rehearsal of Diana's life 30 years later. Margaret's problems are improved by the arrival of Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode, from "Downton Abbey"), who is very happy to modify the conventions with a modern marriage that has more style than substance. Sadly, Goode's ability to play nice cads does not register, or burn, here; He is not having his usual fun.
As before, I recommend taking "The Crown" in small doses, no more than one episode or two at a time, because it works best when savored as a series of short but extravagant films about a dysfunctional family versus a single set from problems.
In general, this season of "The Crown" works best on stories that handle both the past and the future: the prudent and one-eyed Prince Charles (Julian Baring) is sent to the lugubrious and bustling Gordonstoun School in Scotland, the alma mater of his father. While Charles suffers, viewers can at least go back to the unenviable details of Felipe's adolescence, which was plagued by tragedy, negligence and (you guessed it) Nazis.
Where is the queen in all this? Excellent question Foy certainly dominates the many scenes in which he finds himself, but this time he seems more interested in developing any other character than her, perhaps as a way to prepare the spectators for a major change next season, when expected Olivia Colman "of Broadchurch" takes over the role of a senior queen with a new set of problems to face. If nothing else, "The Crown" makes it very clear that Elizabeth's work is a lifelong burden, and often redundant.
The Crown (10 episodes) returns on Friday on Netflix.