Making a period drama is never an easy undertaking. A great amount of care is required to ensure that historical accuracy and authenticity is as high as possible. If one covers the life of a historical figure, it is imperative that the figure is presented on the screen in a way that is honest and respectful. Don’t mistake me: I don’t agree with the practice of using a problematic figure from history, scrubbing away their bad traits and presenting them as some wonderful hero. It’s just not a good idea to pretend like atrocious acts never were committed by some who are commemorated. A criticism of some period dramas that have covered the Royal Family of the United Kingdom is that there is a tendancy to present a rose-tinted view as a means of pro-Monarchy propaganda. This was something that came up when The King’s Speech was released in 2010. It can be argued that the Madonna made W/E was a step in the opposite direction executed poorly. With the release of The Crown season 2 on DVD, have we finally got a royal period drama that finds a good middle ground?
The Crown season 2 continues pretty much where it left off with Duke of Edinburgh Philip (played by Matt Smith) going on his extensive tour around Australia, the South Pacific and more whilst Queen Elizabeth (played by Claire Foy) continues her duties back at home. Things between Elizabeth and Philip are still strained and this season continues to explore some of the problems in their marriage including an explosive potential infidelity that threatens to cause a scandal similar to the abdication. Foy and Smith play out Elizabeth and Philip’s issues perfectly. They manage to give emotive and compelling performances without losing the composure expected of people in their positions and generation. As our protagonists, the royal family may be portrayed relatively favourably but their flaws are out for all to see. This is particularly true with the Queen Mother (played by Eileen Atkins) and Princess Margaret (played by Victoria Kirby). The Queen Mother comes across as a conservative snob who bemoans a perceived crumble of morals who clearly loves her family and wants what’s best for them. Margaret is a passionate, outspoken person whose entitled behaviour can come across as narcissistic. This serves to make The Crown an intricate and emotionally complex show undeserving of any cynical dismissal without a peep.
Beyond its narrative and compelling characters, The Crown is technically very well put together. Every shot is very well composed and put together, providing viewers with each shot that as intriguing as the last. The score by legendary composer Hans Zimmer accompanies the cinematography to aptly accent every episode in pompous grandiosity without getting too carried away with itself. Each episode is directed with an easy consistency that ensures every episode is a stand out on its own merit. Viewers will have their favourite episodes for sure but so far there has not been any major missteps. Season 3 is currently in production with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies taking over as Elizabeth and Philip respectively. If the quality continues, it will be another delightful season to watch.
A period drama with a narrative contemporary audiences can relate to, The Crown triumphs for another season.
The Crown Season 2 Debuts on Blu-ray™ and DVD on October 22