Even if you are not a fan of monarchies, fairy tales, or the British Royal Family, Netflix’s The Crown Season 4 which premiered yesterday is worth any procrastination and deadline you may miss! I say this as a fan of the series, and with the utmost respect for the scriptwriters of what is the most brilliantly written season thus far. If you haven’t seen any of the previous seasons, I suggest you do. It is not like Game of Thrones where you have a gazillion characters to remember, territories to figure out, and battles to understand, because the focus of The Crown is pretty straightforward.
A basic knowledge of world history, British history and current events will certainly help you appreciate the series better, but it is essential to keep in mind that The Crown is written as a television drama, and not a historically accurate documentary. Anyone who knows their history and politics well will certainly cringe at the creative licenses taken on many occasions, but that is what makes this all so appealing.
All the trailers and early reviews leading up to the release of the much-awaited premier had all the fans drooling, especially since the series is now catching up with more recent events, much of which the greater audience can intimately relate to and verify. Season 4 will definitely touch a few raw nerves, undeniably reminding everyone 50 and above what a bizarre decade the 1980s was, and that shoulder pads were not a figment of our imaginations. Having said that, allow me to throw my hat in the ring with a review:
Thus far, for all four seasons, the casting of The Crown has been superb. I thought nothing would ever top the Claire Foy / Matt Smith tandem, but when Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies took over as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philipp, I had to recant my original thoughts. Helena Bonham Carter as the troubled Princess Margaret took a few episodes to get used to, especially after Vanessa Kirby in Season 1 and 2, but Ms. Bonham Carter’s experience comes shining through each and every time, completely eradicating my mental image of Bellatrix Lestrange. I did miss her turbulent presence in the new season though, as the focus was more on the Charles-Diana-Camilla and Queen vs. Iron Lady drama.
Now, let’ talk about Emma Corrin – you are probably thinking Emma who? Remember the name, because you will definitely be seeing more of her in the future, as she catapults to fame like the character she plays. As the young and inexperienced Princess Diana she is absolutely brilliant, and her youth does not undermine in any way her ability to portray the controversial princess. Of all the aspects that could have been highlighted in Princess Diana’s life, I found it interesting that the producers chose to focus on her eating disorder, breaking a long-standing taboo surrounding the fairy tale, a move that is to be applauded and supported.
I had my doubts about Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher before the premier. Like many other movie fans, I had Meryl Streep’s portrayal in The Iron Lady in mind, and to me nothing would ever come close to that performance. Then November 15th rolled around and Gillian Anderson hit the ground running with the performance of a lifetime. Gone are my preconceived notions that she would never overcome the Dana Scully shadow, but over the years she has convincingly and consistently shown both depth and versatility, always adding a certain elegance, decorum and mystery to whatever role she portrays. Her interpretation of Margaret Thatcher made my hair stand up with the accuracy on several occasions, and I will truly miss her in the next season.
The Crown does London absolutely no favours, in any era, but it is one hell of a show-stopping advertisement for Scotland. If you have been to Scotland, and like me, fallen head over heels in love with the poetic landscape (hated the weather, but that is my problem), you will be easily distracted by the use of scenery to highlight the emotions. I don’t want to offer any examples just yet, or I will end up writing spoilers and I promised someone I wouldn’t do so!
Australia and New Zealand are sold a bit short I find, but then again it was surely a time constraint. Nevertheless, the use of the harsh Australian outback as the backdrop to a turbulent relationship was simply masterful.
It was a bizarre, or perhaps the better word would be unfortunate, coincidence that The Crown Season 4 premiered the very weekend that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were on a very public trip again, here in Germany actually. Twitter is all abuzz, rightly so, about the fact that whatever ground the couple may have gained over the years to win the public over, it has gone summarily down the toilet with one powerful Netflix flush. Let me reiterate that the series is more drama than documentary, so you have to take everything with a pound of salt, but one can’t help but wonder… as the saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire.
So go on, drop whatever you are doing, and fire up your computer, grab your favourite ale, and put your phone on airplane mode.