CastleDrama: The Crown - Season 1, Episode 1
"The Crown" might be the most talked about period drama of the year. And that's quite an achievement when going head to head with "Victoria". The Netflix series portrays the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and has seen quite a bit of controversy over its depiction of the relationship between the Queen, still Princess Elizabeth as of the first episode, and the Duke of Edinburgh. Mind you I have spoken long about my take on the matter of historical accuracy in period dramas and so you already know my stance. First things first though: While the jury on "The Crown" is still out, I find that it's skill so far lies in depecting events that may be true even though they probably didn't happen this way without, however, wandering into the realm of pure fantasy.
With "The Crown" I thought I'd do something new. Thus far I have only spoken about a TV period drama series in general, with this Netflix series I will take you on my journey of making up my mind, one episode at a time. Warning: This will definetely contains spoilers.
Truth be told, "The Crown" did start off on the wrong foot with me. In the second scene of the episode 'Prince Philip of Greece and of Denmark' is being bestowed the titles of Baron Greenwich, Earl of Merioneth and Duke of Edinburgh in the wrong order, before he is given an order (of the Garter), which in real life he already had. These may be little things and unimportant to some but it's the attention to detail that can rile me up. That's not taking liberties that's just bad research.
The lack of paying attention to details also plays a role in the life event coming up next: The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and the newly created Duke of Edinburgh. His mother, the very interesting Princess Alice of Battenberg, is seen wearing a nun's habit. Yes, she did so at her daughter-in-law's coronation but she didn't do so at her son's wedding. It, however, enhances the dislike of Prince Philip of about everyone, both Elizabeth's family and the politicians. His family is partly German and his four sisters' husbands definetely stood on the wrong side of history just two years prior. What the wedding scenes do establish though is the fact that young Elizabeth's gets her way "without barely opening her mouth in the process", as her grandmother, Queen Mary, utters. A foreshadowing of what is to come?
First though, we head to Malta and a few carefree moments of Philip's naval career. There's bare-chested rowing but when the party starts to kick into full swing, there's a telephone call and off they are are to cold, cold England. Elizabeth and Philip arrive in time for King George VI's lung cancer operation though nobody knows it is lung cancer yet. Back in London, the most important question of the Duke of Edinburgh's life seems to be the curtain fabrics at newly renovated Clarence House. Generally, for a series about Queen Elizabeth, the first episode shows a whole lot of Prince Philip and his struggles, the King and his struggles, Winston Churchill and his struggles - just the Queen, she remains a bit of an enigma. Then again, there are nine episodes still to come so we might get to her emotional life in a bit.
What we get to though is a "How to Be a Monarch 101" with King George and Princess Elizabeth over Christmas at Sandringham. If you ever happen to find yourself in the role, make sure you read the documents at the bottom of the red box first. It's what they don't want you to see. Another question discussed over Christmas is the famous Commonwealth tour. King George asks his daughter to take his place. Prince Philip reluctantly agrees to put his naval career on hold once more and agrees to come along her - and we all know how the story goes from there. Let's see how "The Crown" tells it.
But before we get to the second episode, we get to see a naked bum shot of Prince Philip (well, Matt Smith) before he goes shooting with his father-in-law, the King, who seems oddly bemused by the whole situation. Then it all gets very serious with King George telling Philip, "she's the job, she's the essence of your duty" - let's see how that plays out.
The Crown is available from Netflix since today, November 4.