Critical Condition: The Crown

The Crown (Netflix, from Friday)

“On Friday, Netflix premieres what is being billed as the most expensive television series ever: The Crown, an epic true-life drama of the British aristocracy. I am insufficiently schooled in the subject to criticise it as history, but as television it’s excellent – beautifully mounted, movingly played and only mildly melodramatic … The plotting can be obvious at times — drawing a thick line under major themes and motifs,  turning up the strings to communicate majesty, cherry-picking conflict to make big drama out of real lives that were extraordinary by many measures but also inevitably routine. Yet it is always very, very watchable and never less than smart, underestimating neither its subjects nor its viewers.” — Los Angeles Times.

“The first chapter of Peter Morgan’s chronicle of the rule of Queen Elizabeth II remains gripping across the entirety of the 10 episodes made available to critics, finding both emotional heft in Elizabeth’s youthful ascension and unexpected suspense in matters of courtly protocol and etiquette. Led by a complicated and star-making performance by Claire Foy and an ensemble primed to fill Emmy categories, The Crown is surely Netflix’s strongest push yet into the realm of prestige drama.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

“The best part of The Crown — aside from all the pretty palaces, shiny jewels and pomp-filled rituals — is the way it depicts the Queen slowly coming into her own and eventually beginning to embrace her destiny. In these early years, she is unsure of herself, she is repeatedly lied to and misled, and she laments her lack of education. But she is patient, persistent and willing to outwait and sometimes outwit the ‘gray men in suits’ in her government and palaces.” — Variety.

The Crown is a PR triumph for the Windsors, a compassionate piece of work that humanises them in a way that has never been seen before. It is a portrait of an extraordinary family, an intelligent comment on the effects of the constitution on their personal lives and a fascinating account of postwar Britain all rolled into one.” — The Telegraph.

“The show is simply an engaging enough dynastic family drama, told on an extravagant scale. It really is gorgeous to look at, and it features many fine performances. (Victoria Hamilton is quite good as the Queen Mother, as is Eileen Atkins as Queen Mary.) Those looking for court intrigue on the level of Game of Thrones will be disappointed. But if staid, reverent, and deeply British is a wavelength that works on you, The Crown ought to satisfy.” — Vanity Fair.

“Sumptuously produced but glacially told, The Crown is the TV equivalent of a long drive through the English countryside. The scenery keeps changing, but remains the same. You nod off, then wake up — to see more of the same. Confined to only a few years after Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, the same dramatis personae keep reoccurring, adding to that effect.” — Newsday.

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