Home with the virus means I have hours to watch the fictionalized 50s of Elizabeth II as she deals with family, PMs, courtiers, and others on The Crown. I had avoided this series, though I’m not sure why. I confess being a relative latecomer to Netflix. The young miss has had a subscription for a while, and she’s generously expanded it to the big screen in the family room. I remember seeing the Henry VIII treatment on PBS in the early 70s, watching with my parents. I’ve stated here and there I enjoy my wife’s romance with British mystery television.
In the past week, I’ve progressed to mid-season two and the episode “Vergangenheit.” I’ll just say this: Nazis, bleech! I feel I need a cleanse of some kind after I watch them on video, like playing loud jazz for an hour or taking a hot shower.
The episode revolves around how much Edward VIII was hitched with Germany during and after his year as British monarch. Juicy stuff, but also featured in this episode was the queen’s initial impression of Rev. Billy Graham and how she turned to him, either fictionalized or not, in dealing with her inability to forgive her uncle for his abandonment of the monarchy and the conspiracies against her father and nation afterward.
If one can’t forgive, Rev Graham counsels, pray for the person. The scripting and acting was good: sincere, measured, and Claire Foy as the queen continues to be great.
I’m always pleased to see religion taken seriously in non-religious treatments. Other characters are skeptical of the American evangelist, but any intelligent viewer already knows some people are not disposed to faith. For the first time in the series, episode 6 of season 2, we get inside the queen’s faith, and not just into her role as head of the Church of England. That’s already featured in the ongoing story with her sister, Princess Margaret.
Left, is the image of Queen Elizabeth I grew up with in my early years as a coin collector. Over the years, her image on coinage has been redesigned, and she has abandoned the plain profile she shared with her father’s image, 1937-1952. As the years roll on, the crown has been added, and she has aged gracefully.
Some random comments and surprises:
- Matt Smith (from Doctor Who) as Prince Philip has been surprisingly sympathetic despite the character’s whining. Much better than how he was portrayed in 2006’s The Queen.
- How entrapped everyone seems to be, just about every member of the royal family, with the exception of the abdicated one, who himself seems a mix of 80% slimy and 20% pitiful.
- The struggle with and against modernity, and how so many people seem to be destroying their own best interests.
So much sadness, yet a tv watch that grips.
You will be able to savor a few religious themes in Season 3, particularly concerning the Aberfan disaster and Prince Philip’s mother (separately), and Prince Philip’s search for meaning (the last being more fictional, though the series is best understood as contemporary historical fiction, studded with occasional facts, sometimes more than others).
PS: Rarely in serial TV dramas is a hymn given a role: