Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Crown Returns and with Great American Tories

 

Choose your Queen: Claire Foy (L) or Olivia Colman (R)
Unlike its broadcast competitors, Netflix does not reveal its viewership numbers, so it’s hard to gain any measure of this week’s debut of Season 3 of The Crown. But if it follows Nielsen’s estimates of last season then the streaming service’s imaginary look at Britain’s Royal Family is probably toiling away in relative obscurity. The second season started out with a fairly strong 3 million American viewers but couldn’t even reach a sixth of that by the time it got around to episode 10. Netflix says Nielsen is full of bollocks.

Having watched the first three episodes the wholesale cast changes haven’t helped. Perhaps Claire Foy was too glamorous to play the part of Elizabeth II in the first place but she was a joy to watch. Now Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) has taken over the role and spends most of her time on screen looking like she’s sucking on a lemon. Worse yet, this season promises less Queen and more spotlight on the more dysfunctional Royals, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) and Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor). Oh, joy.

The fiction-to-fact ratio seems to be rising as the series progresses. As one works through the series one would be advised to read the many articles online that compare the film to the historical record. In the opener, for example, John Lithgow briefly returns as the dying Winston Churchill, who takes a visit from the Queen so that they may make their final goodbyes to one another. There is no evidence that any such meeting took place.

Besides, if there was a weak spot in the first season of the show it was John Lithgow’s turn as Sir Winston Churchill. At 6’4″ he was just too damn tall to play the Great Man. (Sir Winston was only 5’6″ and his hunch made him seem even shorter.) Even lying down in bed dying he’s still too damn tall.

Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Thatcher. It will be another year before this hits the screen.

And speaking of ill-advised casting of great Prime Ministers, it’s already been announced that the next series, set in the 1970s and ’80s will feature Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame as Margaret Thatcher. This will be, of course, the second major depiction of Thatcher on film, the first being The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep – another American.

So The Crown gives us the two greatest PMs of the 20th Century, both Tories, and both are portrayed by an American? Are English actresses incapable of taking on the role – or just too angry to play her straight?

Take The Crown with a huge dose of salt. Meanwhile, may Her Majesty live to be 150. Anything to keep that son of hers off the throne.

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There are 28 comments.

  1. Judge Mental Member

    EJHill:

    So The Crown gives us the two greatest PMs of the 20th Century, both Tories, and both are portrayed by an American? Are English actresses incapable of taking on the role – or just too angry to play her straight?

     

    It’s only fair. All the male roles in American films are taken by Brits.

    • #1
    • November 18, 2019, at 11:35 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  2. Kay of MT Member

    I quit watching the show after the first season as it was not up to reality. There has been enough nonsense published about the royal family to to fill hundreds of books (and have) without any honesty. I’m one of these rare ducks that fell in love with the 2 princesses at about age 4 or 5, and felt so sorry for them I felt like crying for them. Every movie in those days had a news reel, and always something about the girls. I never, ever wanted to grow up and be a princes.

    I prayed Diana would change her mind about marrying Prince Charles, he was such a dumb jerk, but she had a lot of pressure, sad as it turned out.

    In the Queen’s old age, I was delighted that she had a good visit with President Trump, he was able to charm her and gave her due respect. The way the Obama’s’ treated her was vile. I was so ashamed of them, no manners, and no decorum.

    Now the low class Obamas’ have a say about what is shown on Netflix, and I will never give them a penny after they came so close to destroying this country after the Clinton’s got done with it. I am convinced that if the series gets as far as the current time, Obama will be perfect and the fact he sat down during the Hail to the Queen and started eating will be omitted. And I nearly threw up when Michelle laid her hands on the Queen. I am still a descendant of the Brits, even tho we arrived with the Jamestown Colony, and later in 1740-80s the Fullers from gentry and the Stuarts from Scotland, after all.

    • #2
    • November 19, 2019, at 6:24 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Gillian Anderson’s family lived in London for ten years, moving to the US when she was 11. She moved back to London when X-Files ended, and has worked primarily in British tv/movies/theatre ever since. She’s an officer of the Order of the British Empire.

    • #3
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:21 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member

    You’re criticism of Lithgow being too tall to play Churchill is ironic, seeing that Anderson seems to have been chosen because she looks the part.

    • #4
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:35 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    @misthiocracy None of those things makes her British. Steven Spielberg has a KBE and was also given the Federal Cross of Germany. Maybe he can fight for both sides?

    @aaronmiller Personally I don’t think she looks anything like Lady Thatcher.

    • #5
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Matt Bartle Member

    The wife and I agreed that Claire Foy was the better queen. She seemed to have more gavitas, more composure. Olivia Coleman seems startled or confused a lot of the time. And Foy’s voice is better for the ultra-aristocratic delivery.

    • #6
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:22 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. mildlyo Member

    I have watched the third season and agree that the cast changes are a step down. The stunt casting of Helena Bonham-Carter and Derek Jacobi are complete misfires. The Queen and Prince Philip are fine. Anne is fun and Charles useless. The writers don’t like Camilla.

    The whole season is spent in one palace or another, with none of the wonderful scenes of the wilds of England we saw in previous years. The excitement of normal people catching sight of royalty is totally absent. Was the budget drastically scaled back?

    The writing had some strange turns also. There were a couple of places where Philip acts as the voice of reason, instructing the Queen of some point of politics or law. No, seriously. The “mustached men” that represented the Established Order in previous seasons are almost absent.

    This show was famous and noted for showing instead of telling a lot of the plot. That seems to be missing now.

    • #7
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:27 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Percival Thatcher

    Bess seems like a nice old lady. She reminds me of my grandma. I’d have to see her dispatch a chicken, though. I’ll bet that tipping a few with Phil would be a hoot.

    The rest of them makes me sad that “off with their heads” seems to have gone out of fashion.

    • #8
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  9. Podkayne of Israel Member

    I gave up on this somewhere during the first season. They were all working so hard at looking like the originals that it reminded me of Disneyland’s Hall of the Presidents.

    • #9
    • November 19, 2019, at 10:29 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Percival Thatcher

    • #10
    • November 19, 2019, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Western Chauvinist Member

    EJHill: Take The Crown with a huge dose of salt. Meanwhile, may Her Majesty live to be 150. Anything to keep that son of hers off the throne.

    Amen to that!

    • #11
    • November 19, 2019, at 4:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher

    I’m tellin’ ya, I’d like these two.

    • #12
    • November 19, 2019, at 4:36 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    EJHill: Perhaps Claire Foy was too glamorous to play the part of Elizabeth II in the first place but she was a joy to watch.

    That statement has irony for me, as Mrs. Tabby and I first encountered Claire Foy in the series Little Dorrit, which she played as an overly good-hearted character without glamour (freckles, little apparent make-up, and (almost) always in a plain dress).

    • #13
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:28 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Western Chauvinist Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    He cut quite an impressive figure even past his prime, didn’t he? Of course, the hat helps.

    I’m tellin’ ya, I’d like these two.

     

    • #14
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:33 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. colleenb Member

    I am so old fashioned that I still get DVDs from Netflix so will have to wait to render my judgement on the new cast. But right off the bat, I’d say that Olivia Coleman will have to work hard to fill Claire Foy’s shoes. And why does Helena Carter-Bonham continue to get parts? Is it the hyphenated name? She plays every role like the hippy, dippy chick she is. And yeah take the whole thing with a huge grain of salt. Which is disappointing. I would think one of the advantages of a very long TV series would be to get into the nuances of history.

    • #15
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:26 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Irony alert ! The episode I just watched was about inviting LBJ to visit in order to get a billion dollars from him. They settled for a White House visit for Princess Margaret after which they got the billion. Quid quo pro!!!!

    • #16
    • November 20, 2019, at 11:13 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  17. Valiuth Member

    EJHill: Anything to keep that son of hers off the throne.

    What you don’t what Charles the Lesser in charge? I still think they should fire the lot and hire new royalty, better looking royalty to play the parts. Just like with the show.. of course on the show people have gotten less attractive, which is a bad trend if you ask me. But, I think the episode where they start introducing elements of fantasy into it will revitalize the season. Nothing like some dragons, and dementors to spice things up. 

    • #17
    • November 20, 2019, at 12:24 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Blondie Thatcher

    Thanks for the review, EJ. We will put off getting back on Netflix a little longer.

    • #18
    • November 20, 2019, at 2:26 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Skyler Coolidge

    Monarchy is abomination, and the British monarchy is as depraved as most. A pox on them. I’m an American. I don’t admire the British royalty even in the slightest and I find it perplexing that some Americans do, and I can only pity the Brits, though they should know better than to allow that institution to exist for more than a minute longer.

    • #19
    • November 20, 2019, at 8:16 PM PST
    • Like
  20. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Skyler: Monarchy is abomination, and the British monarchy is as depraved as most. A pox on them. I’m an American.

    The satirist Mark Russell once opined that most people want a monarchy that represents the state but is powerless. And then he nominated the Kennedys. Not a totally bad thought.

    The English speak of their Constitution but they really don’t have one in the modern sense, at least not in the way we define it. The monarchy is a sort of glue that holds it together. Does Magna Carta mean as much without a sovereign? 

    • #20
    • November 20, 2019, at 8:44 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Skyler Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Does Magna Carta mean as much without a sovereign?

    Absolutely. Abolishing the monarchy would be the culmination of the ideology tentatively addressed in the Magna Carta.

    EJHill (View Comment):
    And then he nominated the Kennedys. Not a totally bad thought.

    The thought makes me retch.

    • #21
    • November 20, 2019, at 9:16 PM PST
    • Like
  22. colleenb Member

    Not to get too far from The Crown but now that Prince Andrew has withdrawn from public life, shouldn’t Bill Clinton have to too? Not that we’ve been hearing much from him. Spending his time trying to get THAT DAM SPOT out maybe? And shouldn’t Hillary, has an enabler, also have to withdraw from public life? Maybe also Katie Couric and the others that were at that dinner at Mr. Epstein’s (George Stephanapoulos or an NBC guy – all those media types run together). As to the eternal – or at least since 1776 – question of why (some) Americans love British Royalty? That may be a post someday but too busy now. Cheers!

    • #22
    • November 21, 2019, at 7:54 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Miffed White Male Member

    colleenb (View Comment):

    Not to get too far from The Crown but now that Prince Andrew has withdrawn from public life, shouldn’t Bill Clinton have to too? Not that we’ve been hearing much from him. Spending his time trying to get THAT DAM SPOT out maybe? And shouldn’t Hillary, has an enabler, also have to withdraw from public life? Maybe also Katie Couric and the others that were at that dinner at Mr. Epstein’s (George Stephanapoulos or an NBC guy – all those media types run together). As to the eternal – or at least since 1776 – question of why (some) Americans love British Royalty? That may be a post someday but too busy now. Cheers!

    Saw a tweet this morning that Prince Andrew is withdrawing from public life to spend more time with other people’s kids.

    • #23
    • November 21, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Skyler Coolidge

    colleenb (View Comment):
    Spending his time trying to get THAT DAM SPOT out maybe?

    Perfect.

    • #24
    • November 21, 2019, at 8:35 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. colleenb Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    colleenb (View Comment):
    Spending his time trying to get THAT DAM SPOT out maybe?

    Perfect.

    Thanks Skyler. The idea of Bill and Hillary washing their hands over and over again to try and rid themselves of the stain of hanging J Epstein (wait I meant hanging with!!) is too delicious for me. Now on to commenting about the Bidens. 

    • #25
    • November 21, 2019, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Full Size Tabby Member

    We (Mrs. Tabby in particular) view the series as a soap opera (with very nice costumes and sets) and take all the historicity with a large grain of salt.

    One of our amusements for movies or television shows connected with either real events and people or books is the wording of the credits (such as “based on”). So far the most tenuous we have seen is “inspired by” which meant that the names of the primary characters were the same, but everything else about the movie had nothing to do with the “source material.” Same here – we see The Crown as “inspired by” but otherwise not connected with the actual people and events of history. It can still make for an enjoyable visual storytelling experience.

    • #26
    • November 21, 2019, at 10:24 AM PST
    • Like
  27. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Full Size Tabby: Same here – we see The Crown as “inspired by” but otherwise not connected with the actual people and events of history.

    If the Queen were anyone else, writer Peter Morgan would probably be arrested as a stalker. He is obsessed with her. Besides The Crown he has authored the film The Queen and the play The Audience (both with Helen Mirren), all featuring his fantasies of Elizabeth.

    In projects like this there are always going to be historical inaccuracies but this season seems worse on that score than the first two. For example, Morgan invented “controversial” remarks for Charles to make on his investiture as the Prince of Wales. The speech, in both Welsh and English, was televised and is available online and bear no resemblance to what is in the show. This is like a vanity project for him. “Well, if I were Charles, this is what I would have said!” No. If it’s in public and on the record, stick to the record.

    In another episode he creates a midlife crisis for Philip centered on the US moon landings. 

    • #27
    • November 21, 2019, at 10:48 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Skyler Coolidge

    colleenb (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    colleenb (View Comment):
    Spending his time trying to get THAT DAM SPOT out maybe?

    Perfect.

    Thanks Skyler. The idea of Bill and Hillary washing their hands over and over again to try and rid themselves of the stain of hanging J Epstein (wait I meant hanging with!!) is too delicious for me. Now on to commenting about the Bidens.

    To be fair, there are a lot of very powerful people who would have been able to and wanted to kill him.

    • #28
    • November 21, 2019, at 12:21 PM PST
    • Like