16 November 2016 | The_late_Buddy_Ryan
Your Netflix subscription dollars at work!
Plot summary: A shy young woman, descended from a long line of hardworking German immigrants, doesn't feel quite ready to take over the family business.
The first season, scripted by the brilliant Peter Morgan ("The Queen"), covers only the first few years of the young queen's reign, and this big canvas, like a painting by Breughel or Bosch (but with nicer furniture!), allows for a tight focus on some tiny but revealing details; I especially liked the episode in which ER II, who's only been taught French, deportment and the British constitution, uses her expert knowledge of the latter to outfox the palace HR department (it's complicated) and hires a tutor to teach her, among other things, how the H-bomb works.
The cast is just about perfect, and Morgan's done an amazing job of bringing these remote, puppetlike figures (especially so for those of us who grew up during that era) to life in a convincing way. Over the course of ten episodes, we see Claire Foy's soft, expressive face transformed into an impassive mask of authority (perhaps the makeup artists deserve some credit here). Mike "Dr. Who" Smith is especially impressive as a slightly feral Prince Phillip, likewise Jared Harris as a menschy George VI, and John Lithgow (6′4˝) totally crushes it as a supersize Winston Churchill (5′6˝).
It's all pretty great. Most of the drama consists of intense two-shot interactions in overdecorated rooms, but there's plenty of royal pageantry, plus excursions to Kenya and Australia (both played by South Africa, btw) and various primo huntin', shootin' and fishin' spots. On to season two! We're eager to see if Princess Margaret really had it off with Jagger during the 60s!