The Crown—Season 1

the crown season 1 poster episode guide netflix
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Juicy stuff is the best stuff

Have to remember it is a blend of history and fiction

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This season of Game of Thrones is really weird…

Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy) finds herself thrust upon the throne after years of grooming in 1952.  Married to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (Matt Smith), Elizabeth finds herself trying to balance the responsibilities of the Crown, her life, and the commitment to the kingdom.  With killer smog, dealings with an aging Winston Churchill (John Lithgow), and her sister Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) wishing to marry the divorced commoner Peter Townsend (Ben Miles), England is at a tipping point…and Queen Elizabeth II must fight to make it survive.

The Crown—Season 1 is a historic drama.  It was released on Netflix and became an instant hit.  The series received Primetime Emmy awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Lithgow), Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program—One Hour or More (“Smoke and Mirrors”), and Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie with nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Foy), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (“Hyde Park Corner”), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (“Assassins”), Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Music Composition for a Series—Original Dramatic Score (“Hyde Park Corner”), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series—One Hour (“Smoke and Mirrors”), Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series (“Hyde Park Corner”), and Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role (“Windsor”).

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How’s it feel to be Mr. Queen Elizabeth?

I skipped The Crown for a long time.  I watched Downton Abbey kind of out of obligation and diving into another period British show seemed draining.  With the series progressing and time passing, the desire to see the newer seasons has made me go back and start the series.  The Crown definitely has its moments, but it is also rather what you’d expect.

The series has the challenge of trying to be entertaining while struggling to be accurate.  It also runs the risk of insulting the Monarchy and therefore angering viewers.  It is forced to walk the line a bit.  There are moments when it feels like The Crown could dive deeper into the drama and sleaze of the relationships between the members of the Royal Family…but it would also feel disingenuous to the series which is also supposed to lift up their success and struggles.

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A sad man on the decline

That being said, it is the infighting and behind the scenes nature that is the best part of the series…and it is also so-so on reality.  While some is accurate to an extent (the letters of King Edward VIII to his wife weren’t word for word, but allegedly were somewhat accurate in wording etc.), it is all through different reports and speculation.  Be it the accusations of infidelity, the rift between Elizabeth and Margaret, or the fate of Churchill’s infamous portrait are kind of blending of truth and fiction…they may be accurate or they may be fiction.

The casting is great.  Not only did the filmmakers manage to cast people who look like their real life counterparts, but they also got great actors in the process.  Claire Foy is a solid score as the Queen, and Vanessa Kirby is also good as her sister who lives in her shadow.  Though his role is small, Jared Harris is good as King George VI while Alex Jennings plays a conniving (yet emotionally hurt) King Edward VIII.  I like Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (though her role could be expanded), and Lithgow is a scene stealer as Churchill.

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Long live…The Crown?

The series also looks fantastic.  It feels accurate and looks accurate.  It has the challenge of being a period piece with events and locations that everyone knows or can look up.  If the characters are going to Buckingham Palace, it has to look like Buckingham Palace…the same can be said about locations like Westminster Abbey and other famous English locations.  The series blends the fact and fiction with the visuals and the story.

The Crown is a good watch.  It is a nice quasi-historical history refresher, but it also manages to be entertaining.  Unlike Downton Abbey which felt more soap opera than drama, The Crown manages to keep the drama more at the forefront.  The smart thing about the series is that people know what’s coming, the challenges the Queen will face…and you relish how it will evolve.

The Crown—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Wolferton Splash”

1.1       Wolferton Splash Release Date:  11/04/16

It is November 20, 1947, and Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy) is marrying Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark much to the dismay of many in the royal family.  King George VI (Jared Harris) finds himself suffering from an unknown illness that could change Elizabeth’s course sooner than she thought.  As Philip moves up the military rank, Elizabeth welcomes the birth of her son Charles (Billy Jenkins) and daughter Anne (Grace and Amelia Gilmour).  Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) finds himself reelected as Prime Minister, and Elizabeth is thrust into the role as an emissary for the Crown.

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“Hyde Park Corner”

1.2       Hyde Park Corner Release Date:  11/04/16

As Elizabeth and Philip tour the Commonwealth in his place, King George deals with his cancer prognosis.  The Cabinet fears that Churchill’s behavior could pose a problem in ruling the country, and King George could be their only hope at getting him out of office.  Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) carries on a secret relationship with her married driver Group Captain Peter Townsend (Ben Miles).  After a day hunt, tragedy strikes and Elizabeth learns her life will never be the same.

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1.3       Windsor Release Date:  11/04/16

The country prepares for the funeral of King George VI and former King Edward VIII (Alex Jennings) has returned to bury his brother despite his strained relationship with his mother Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins).  Pete Townsend learns that his marriage has officially fallen apart, but Philip almost discovers his secret relationship with Margaret.  The naming of Mountbatten home comes into question, and Elizabeth must test her new power in a meeting with Churchill…but George has something to say about it.

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“Act of God”

1.4       Act of God Release Date:  11/04/16

Philip takes flying lessons with Pete as a deadly smog falls over London.  The rising death toll from the smog puts Churchill under fire…and taking a personal loss in Venetia Scott (Kate Phillips).  With a lack of leadership, Elizabeth must decide what to do about Churchill.

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“Smoke and Mirrors”

1.5       Smoke and Mirrors Release Date:  11/04/16

The coronation is approaching, and Elizabeth tries to get Philip to head the committee chair which goes against tradition.  The health of Queen Mary begins to dip, and the Duke of Windsor learns that he might have to return to London.  Philip’s idea for the coronation could put him at odds with the coordinators.

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1.6       Gelignite Release Date:  11/04/16

Elizabeth has officially been crowned the Queen, but Princess Margaret’s affair with Peter Townsend is coming to light in the papers.  The Queen Mother learns of Margaret’s romance and tells Elizabeth that protecting the monarchy is important.  A public separation of the two lovers is necessary for the media perception…and leads to broken promises.

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“Science Potentia Est”

1.7       Scientia Potentia Est Release Date:  11/04/16

Elizabeth questions her schooling and lack of expansive teaching and seeks aid from a tutor named Professor Hogg (Alan Williams).  When Tommy Lascelles (Pip Torrens) plans to retire, the Queen questions if she should select her own secretary in Michael Adeane (Will Keen).  The Russians’ nuclear program is accelerating, and Churchill debates the lead of Eisenhower in negotiations…but a surgery for Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam) and a medical crisis for Churchill could cause problems and a visit from Eisenhower.

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“Pride & Joy”

1.8       Pride & Joy Release Date:  11/04/16

Elizabeth prepares for a world tour and leaves Margaret to stand in her place while her mother heads back to Scotland…but Elizabeth might have regrets when Margaret takes her push for her marriage to Townsend to the people.

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1.9       Assassins Release Date:  11/04/16

Churchill is preparing for his 80th birthday and learns that Parliament intends to honor him which includes a portrait by Graham Sutherland (Stephen Dillane).  The relationship between Elizabeth and her old friend Lord “Porchey” Porchester (Joseph Kloska) is questioned as Margaret hints about Philip’s faithfulness to Elizabeth.

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1.10     Gloriana Release Date:  11/04/16

Princess Margaret turns twenty-five, but Elizabeth gets a bad update on the subject of the marriage between Margaret and Townsend.  Eden steps in as Prime Minister following Churchill’s resignation but continues to struggle with his medical condition.  Queen Elizabeth is updated with the shaky relationship between England and President Gamal Abdel Nasser (Amir Boutrous) of Egypt.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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