The Crown Season 5- The Good, the Bad and the Fabulous
Many Spoilers Ahead
The world was watching their Netflix screens to announce the arrival of the new season of The Crown, almost as impatiently as the Royal family would have been waiting for Kate and Wills to announce the arrival of the heir to the throne of Britain. And when it did arrive, it took social media and everywhere else by storm (the baby and the new season, both). Even the trailer, with the oddly titillating version of Bittersweet Symphony, gave me chills.
And what incredible timing for the new season to land- just as it is announced that Camilla will be crowned as Queen on the day that Charles will be anointed as King Charles III. I remember retweeting that, wondering how this piece of news would have been received had it been read in 1996.
Perfect timing aside, there are other things that are worth observing on The Crown.
Imelda Staunton as the Queen. Fabulous. She has finally been able to eviscerate the image of Dolores Umbridge and as the Queen, looked and acted quite cuddly, if I’m honest. My favourite Queen will always be Claire Foy, of course. Olivia Colman, though an iconic actress, did not gain my fandom for her portrayal of the Queen, not because of her acting skills, but rather because the connection between her as an actor and her as the character did not seem quite so obvious. Imelda Staunton, however, reclaimed that connection by portraying the distraught nature of the Queen amidst the Annus Horribilis debacle.
Dominic West as Prince Charles. I would much rather see him as a Bond villain than as Prince Charles. Don’t get me wrong- he acted magnificently. But that’s the problem- he was too magnificent. Prince Charles never did look as magnificent as Dominic West. Josh O’Connor’s uncanny resemblance to the young Charles in mannerisms and in looks (soz, Josh) was far too unbeatable and Dominic West’s devastatingly good looks seem quite out of place in an otherwise rather moderately attractive family. Having said that, he got the mannerisms quite right. So, I would rate him.
Elizabeth Debicki as Diana. Hit and miss, both, this one. Hit because of the Panorama interview scene. Miss because the revenge dress scene was thoroughly underplayed. There was so much glamour that could have been put into that scene but it was done in such a rush that nobody could savour it at all. I would rate her, but not quite so highly.
The return of Peter Townsend. Princess Margaret gathered a lot of posthumous sympathy after the Peter Townsend affair became part of the show and when it was discovered that Antony Armstrong-Jones was cheating on her. The same sentiments resurface in this season when Peter Townsend returns and the flame of their love shines ever so bright still.
John Major. One of my friends whose main interest in life is election analysis (it is more interesting than it sounds) once described John Major to me as one of the most boring PMs in Tory history. Coming from him, that was a big deal because he had, prior to the Johnson era, been a devout Conservative (a nice one), and hence, Conservative leaders should have been, to him, uncriticisable. Compared to today’s political environment, of course, being a boring Tory PM probably bodes well for you instead of being a hip, party-loving Tory. Jonny Lee Miller is a handsome actor. And they got another handsome actor to play a not-so-handsome politician. Is it so that everyone sympathises with John Major more? Either way, again, he was too cute to be John Major. Having said that, the work they did on his face and his hair, and his person to make him believable as John Major was great.
Khalid Abdallah as Dodi Fayed. I was excited to see him return to my life after The Kite Runner. That was some excellent casting, I thought. I am keen on seeing the relationship between him and Diana bud in the next season.
Hasnat Khan- or the lack thereof. He did not receive any attention at all. It’s surprising when you think about how Naomi Watts’ Diana was based on Hasnat Khan but The Crown did not deem it important enough. Perhaps something for the next season to cover?
I read on the BBC that the new season was going to make young people hate the Royal family and sympathise with Diana. I did not feel any of that. The Crown was never meant to be a dramatised documentary. It was always a drama series. But now it seems to have turned into a Royal Reveal. Like Lady Whistledown’s column but for television and for actual royalty, not the Bridgerton, made-up royalty. Although, arguably, the House of Windsor is also made-up royalty.
Overall, I would give this season a 6/10. A hit and a miss, both.