Everything that Downton wasn’t
I know I am in the minority when I say that I hated Downton Abbey. I found it poorly written, dumbed-down, and derivative of much better earlier TV dramas, and perhaps worst of all, it tried to pack in so many historical events and soap opera twists that it just felt like a joke. The Crown on the other hand took about a decade of the Queen’s life (with flashbacks to earlier periods) and took its time telling the story of her ascension to the throne and her early years as queen. As much as I know about the Royal Family, I’m not entirely sure how much liberty they took with the facts, but they did it so well that I don’t really care so much. It is amazing how good TV can be when it is allowed to breathe.
A feast for the eyes
They really didn’t spare expense when it came to costumes, locations, and sets. They were so clever with establishing shots that there were times I wondered if they actually got permission to film at Buckingham Palace. Knowing that that was an impossibility, I started to look for clues or things that were out of place–there were a few, but still so well done that none of it bothered me. Her wedding to Philip, her coronation, foreign trips, vintage aircraft…it was all so nicely, and grandly done. And did I mention the jewels?
A story of real people
Although some of the story lines and characterizations were well known to me, others were either new, or so intimately told that I really felt like I was getting a peek behind the curtain. There are moments when the characters feel more like real people than royalty. This also means that there were liberties taken with personalities and behaviors which might rankle some. The Queen Mum probably fares the worst, Princess Margaret probably fares the best. But neither of them were one dimensional. And then there is a saucy moment or two…like Philip telling HM to, um, well, you’ll just have to watch it.
The acting was generally superb. John Lithgow’s Churchill was great even if he was too tall. Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary was fantastic. Matt Smith’s portrayal of Prince Philip makes one see where Prince Harry gets his devilish side. Claire Foy as HM is pretty brilliant. Vanessa Kirby was perhaps too tall to be Margaret, but the eyes and face were spot on. Not all characters were look-a-likes but since this isn’t a gimmicky production, that part doesn’t matter.
So worth watching. I’m hoping they make 10 more to take us into the 1960s and beyond.