My previous post made it seem like I dislike The Crown (or at least season 3), but it is still a good show
So, what was good about season 3 of The Crown? There were several really good episodes.
I’ll make a blanket statement that I wish they had left the season 1 & 2 cast in place through the 1966 episode and added at least two of the first three episodes to season 2. QEII was about 38 years old in 1964 (end of season 2/beginning of season 3) and 43 in 1969 (starting at season 3, episode 4). Clair Foy was about 35 years old in 2019 when the season was shot and Olivia Coleman was about 45.
- Olding (1964) – I was looking forward to this one because I have always loved spy stories. It was good, but seemed a slow way to start season 3. This episode could have been shuffled in the timeline – although Blunt was identified as a mole in 1964, he stayed in his position until 1972 and was publicly exposed in 1979. The show could have reframed the episode to focus on one of those later dates.
- Margaretology (1965) – I had a hard time with this one for two reasons: a) Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret and b) the fabrication or exaggeration of much of the storyline. The show is not a documentary and the episode was entertaining, but there is a fine line between fudging a bit to heighten the drama and just completely making up a story. For me, this one crosses the line – on the UK bailout, on Margaret’s return to the UK and on the wild party with LBJ. So many liberties taken with the actual events – it was disappointing. Also, not to be ageist, but Margaret was about 35 years old when she went on that trip; she and Tony Armstrong-Jones were viewed as vibrant and modern (Vanessa Kirby would have been 30 when playing her and HBC was about 53). I enjoy HBC and she had great shoes in this episode, but IMO, it would have been better with Vanessa Kirby tacked on to season 2 or dropped.
- The Aberfan episode (1966) was really well done and so effective, with the children singing early in the episode and the shadows at then end. It was gut-wrenching to see that wall of slurry and know what was coming. It was an amazing episode and one of the best of the season. My problem with the episode, as I mentioned in the prior post, was in the focus on whether the Queen cried. It is such a sexist storyline, as it would never have been a focus had there been a king rather than a queen. Also, I’m not sure what the issue is with this season, but they seem determined to have the Queen seem to be in a perpetual snit or sporting a flat affect. Foy’s Queen may have perfected a “blank face” but you always knew what she was thinking and feeling. I would have loved to see her in this episode – she would have pulled off that emotional but distant balance very nicely.
- Bubbikins (1969) – had they started season 3 with this one (starring the new cast), I would have cheered! This was one of my favorite episodes of the season – Princess Alice and Princess Anne – who could ask for more? This also had inaccuracies, but they were definitely on the “fudging” side of the line. The Philip and Anne casting was excellent – they really look like father and daughter.
- Coup – ugh. This was my least favorite episode. While it was great to see the Queen having some fun and taking a trip down “what might have been” lane, the coup side of the story was fairly boring, featured a bunch of characters not seen before and never seen again, and the real “coup” didn’t play out as shown (i.e., this was on the “making it up” side of the line). I hoped that Charles Dance (Dickie Mountbatten) would play Philip in seasons 5 and 6, so seeing him here was a little disappointing, though the last scene with him and Princess Alice was golden.
- Twyysog Cmyru – this was in my top three episodes. The portrayal of Charles was well-done – Josh O’Connor did a great job. Although again having some inaccuracies (his real speech didn’t go as far as this one did), it seemed to capture the moment pretty well. But they seem determined to make the Queen unlikable – her rebuke of Charles toward the end of the episode was HARSH! She may have been correct in her assessment of his actions but it’s painful to see her lash out at him. This is where the event-jumping format of season 3 suffers in comparison to the relationship–based seasons 1 and 2. Adding an episode or two that focused on their relationship would have put her reaction in a broader context, e.g., practicing the investiture, introducing the red box, talking about how life will change for him, her growing exasperation with him or his rebellious side coming out over time. She may not have been hands-on in the earlier seasons, but she didn’t seem to actively dislike her children. Further, there are photos from this period in their lives showing the Queen and Charles smiling and laughing together, suggesting that the relationship between the Queen and Charles wasn’t all bad, but you wouldn’t know that from this show!
- Moondust – a.k.a. Philip’s whining again. It was great to see the family getting up and watching the moon landing and to see Philip engaged in something. But, really, he is just exhausting. We’ve moved away from the “young man angst” of the earlier seasons and into “midlife crisis”. The notion that Philip was the only one coming up with the “big questions” was silly. The astronauts were on a global tour and even if they hadn’t come up with answers to questions about what it was like on the moon or in space, NASA would have helped them develop answers to these questions. The idea that they could only speak in engineer-ese or relate everything to mechanics is insulting.
The remaining three episodes I don’t remember very well – broad plots, yes; details, no. So perhaps I’ll comment on those later. I do remember the return of David and Wallis (i.e., the Duke and Duchess of Windsor), who now seem to look a lot like Derek Jacobi and Geraldine Chaplin.
Also, what do they have against Americans – we seem to be portrayed as bumbling, crass, idiots or all of the above (see JFK, LBJ and the astronauts); the only ones to escape this treatment were Billy Graham and (to some extent) Jackie Kennedy. [Side note: I just rewatched the Dear Mrs. Kennedy episode … from JFK’s manhandling his wife to Jackie’s oversharing with the Queen that she was probably just high when she said all those nasty things about her … it was as off-base as I remembered. But the Queen’s dance was fab and the Martin’s commentary during the dance was really great!]