Did I like it? Yes! Did I love it? No.
Ok. The good:
1: Casting was spot on. Even Jonathan Pryce (whom I dislike, intensely: sorry; it’s a Martine McCutcheon/he was a shit Bond villain imho thing) nails it as the late Duke of Edinburgh. Johnny Lee Miller ‘gets John Major (calm, moderate and yet also, calculating, in his way). Dominic West gives a studied, non caricature turn as Prince (now King) Charles; capturing the man’s heart, soul, intellect and yet also, frightful immaturity and insensitivity. Prasanna Puwanarajah is a perfect Martin Bashir (trivia: we were at Oxford together). And so on.
2: Atmospherics. You FEEL every droplet of rain, crackle of microphone etc. This is cinematic quality stuff.
3: Yes, they play liberties with the facts. But not with the TRUTH. There is, somehow, a kind of dramatisation at work here. Managing to elongate somehow, the events and inject personal, human dimensions, without ever compromising reputation entirely.
So, yes. Worth a watch and a binge watch, at that. Nostalgia. Drama. Human interest stories. That said?
A: The bigger the events depicted, the smaller the level of dramatic focus, somehow? As in, they manage to make massive historical moments feel small and smaller events feel at once larger than life? There is an imbalance I cannot quite plcace.
B: The more recent the events depicted? The more distant the whole affair feels. Indeed, there is a feeling of GODFATHER level ambition yet soap operatic realisation here. You will know it when you see it. The depiction of Dodi ‘Chariots of fire’ Fayed is especially bifurcated: at once sympathetic and kinda Fredo Corleone?
C: DIANA: Yes, Elizabeth Debicki is awesome in the role. But there is nothing ‘new’ to say here. Everything that needed to be done on film was accomplished, previously, with Naomi Watts. Yes, Watt’s movie is flawed but her ‘take’ on Diana is definitive and they did justice to the Dr Khan story better than THE CROWN does, here. Ditto: WHY IS TIMOTHY DALTON IN THIS SHOW? He has ONE EPISODE. For about FIVE MINUTES. Seriously, Tim: you could have been another Olivier. You deserve better. Nice flower arranging, though 😉
In short? Peter Morgan is running out of ideas, fast.
Series 6, inevitably, will find him treading old ground, especially as they confront the Blair era and legacy of the Diana death. Critically, with the Queen now dead (alas), the dynamic changes. And, as events become more current or at least recent, the historical drama USP is depleted.
Which makes one think they ought really have stretched out the series more between years and simply kept the original cast? Or better still, stopped, at series 2? But worth a watch, nonetheless. Expect GOOD television. Just not GREAT.
GOD SAVE THE KING!