TV Review: The Crown, Series 4 Episodes 1-3

I ration myself to Episodes 1-3 of Series 4 of The Crown in the first instance but find it is losing its lustre a little

“I’m struggling to find any redeeming features in these people at all”

Kicking off in 1977, Series 4 of The Crown swiftly moves into my lifetime with its second scene taking place in 1979, although not quite into events that I remember, at least in these first three episodes. And with the arrival of both Diana Spencer and Margaret Thatcher on the scene, there’s quite the decade to explore.

But something has gone a little awry for me and The Crown. The sheer scope of Peter Morgan’s writing means that there’s a mahoosive ensemble at work here but the nature of his construction of episodes that drill down to intimate focus means that there’s huge gaps and terrible wastage, particularly of Helena Bonham Carter’s delicious Princess Margaret.

Princess Anne’s marriage (Erin Doherty is sorely underused thus far), the very existence of Princes Andrew and Edward, heck even the Queen herself feels terribly absent in this opening salvo. Instead Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher garners the attention of a whole episode, including a marvellously excrutiating trip to Balmoral, as does Emma Corrin’s Diana whose rapid engagement period takes up Episode 3.

Anderson’s performance is a bit of a challenge regardless of your feelings towards the milk snatcher, physically quite awkward and perhaps a little too caught up in impersonation. Corrin is much more effective as Diana-as-naïf though I remain fully Team Camilla, and not just because of Emerald Fennell’s deliciously rich take on her.

This is all well and good and with the amount of money and white acting talent thrown at it, it is undoubtedly seductive, precision designed for lazy Sunday viewing on the sofa. But with its cast of characters so increasingly wide, The Crown is delving accordingly less deep and thus feels less interesting as it skates over the glossy surface of such impressive production design.

I’d’ve loved to know more about Diana’s feelings about her sister (who dated Charles first) or the seemingly non-existent relationship with her chilly grandmother (who was one of the Queen Mother’s ladies-in-waiting), or the fate of the rest of Lord Mountbatten’s family (who weren’t killed). But no, we have to have extended wordless dance and roller-skating sequences. I will undoubtedly carry on watching but The Crown is losing a little of its lustre for me.

The Crown is streaming now on Netflix
Photos: Des Willie

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