|Yes, we had a little viewing party at my house on Friday night...|
The second season dropped on Friday, December 8 here in the US and, this being Sunday, December 10, I have managed to get nine of the 10 episodes under my belt. I was working on number 10, from a spot on my carpet last night (having gotten a backache from so much couch sitting), when sleep overtook me. I succumbed as the Profumo Affair was raging. I'll be back before the end of the day to find out how it all ended.
If you don't know about "The Crown" you're in for a treat. If you have Netflix and haven't made it there yet, go! If you don't have Netflix, "The Crown" makes it worth subscribing.
It was reportedly the most expensive television production in English history and every penny shows up on the screen. The acting is brilliant - and not just from the stars. Claire Foy as Elizabeth 2nd is, well, words fail. She's brilliant, as is the rest of cast (I have a soft spot for Eileen Atkins as the Queen's Grandma, Mary). But not a footman or a sailor or man-in-crowd-12 is out of place. The production values are as stellar as the actors.
I'll say that I don't think this second series has quite the interest of the first which is something to do with a falling off in world and personal events for the family in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the series is set, and something to do with choices made by the writers and producers.
The first three episodes, a full 30 percent of the series, focus on a five-month trip by Prince Philip to the far corners of the Commonwealth: a protracted sea-going stag party that tested the royal marriage to its limits, as per the producers. There are longueurs here that the first series never presented. The same is true of the Princess Margaret's dangerous liaison with the photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones, who became her husband and Lord Snowden. (A disaster in the making as we see at its making). But these are my only cavils. The best episode is number 6 - which brings back some erstwhile hidden history of World War II and so Winston Churchill and the old King George and the tragic King Edward, of abdication-for-love fame. (Alex Jennings as the reduced former king, dressing for costume parties, taking birthday photos of his dog, playing bridge in exile, is brilliant). The failed king is revealed to be not just self-regarding twit but an actual villain and the story gives Foy and Jennings and the writers a chance to present inner and outer turmoil beautifully.
Episode six also dares to tread into Queen Elizabeth's religious faith. She was, if the series is to be believed, quite taken by the American evangelist Billy Graham who visited England at the time of her uncle's visit. I have long had the sense that the Queen has survived and managed and coped all these years because she is at her core a sincere religious believer. (Not much of an insight, I'll grant you but no one ever seems to come out and say this). There's a brilliant scene where the Queen is listening to the Rev. Graham preaching in the private chapel of the family. She is rapt. Philip and the Queen Mother look on, partly bemused, partly concerned.
If you want to read a proper review, The Atlantic has a good one. As for me, I'm off to church this Sunday morning... and then to find out just how the Profumo Affair ended.
IN OTHER NEWS
Since Christmas is coming, another e-book promotion is on the way for the US and the UK. Watch this space.
I have also had some kind inquiries recently about a sequel to Up, Back, and Away. The Muse dragged me off that broad highway months ago and into a strange corner where I have been writing a children's book inspired by images from the digital images collection of the New York Public Library. Once that is out of my system, I'm hoping to get back to the sequel.