I thought the first season of this show was OK, but the second was so incredibly tedious that I figured I wouldn’t even bother with Season 3. Based on good reviews, I decided to give it a try. Four episodes in, it is obvious that the writing is a cut above previous seasons, engaging more with current events of the day than with family politics. Episode 3, which deals with a little known Welsh mining tragedy in which over 100 children were killed, and the Crown’s reaction to it, is particularly good.
The writers seem to be grappling with the impact of the royal family’s decision to engage more with the media, particularly television. This remains an important issue. For better or worse — an in the case of Prince Andrew, dramatically worse – the royal family does have to respond to the media more than they did 50 years ago.
The cast change was pretty seamless. Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies are great as Elizabeth and Phillip, and Helena Bonham Carter makes Margaret more sympathetic than she ought to be. Charles Dance apparently appears later as Lord Mountbatten, who was about as close in real life to Tywin Lannister as it is possible to be.
This is not an anti-monarchy series. The writers have to invent private conversations, of course. But they seem to be bending over backwards to put the best possible construction on the family’s often very strange behavior.
You can’t help but be struck, however, by how shockingly mediocre this family is. One thousand years of selective breeding resulted in — this? The only traits that they seem to have selected for are the ability to sit up straight in uncomfortable chairs, the ability to speak whole sentences while hardly moving their lips, and a sense of entitlement so blind to reality it is almost comical. (I mention this because some “gene analysis” companies are once again offering people the opportunity to “design their babies – be careful what you wish for.)