The Crown season 3 review: Olivia Colman leads majestic return of Netflix drama

Mirror Online Entertainment 2 weeks ago

It’s been a long wait since the release of The Crown season 2 for new episodes of the glossy royal drama, but has it been worth the patience?

For many, the quality of the new season will hinge on how much they take to the new cast that have slotted into the parts left behind by the likes of Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, and - of course - Claire Foy.

So, does the Netflix royal drama succeed with the ambitious revamp for the new run?

The answer is an resounding yes, despite some performers failing to live up entirely to their predecessors.

Firstly, Olivia Colman does deliver a likeable turn as The Queen, playing her sweeter moments well against the monarch’s icier times. However, one can’t help but compare her to Foy and find her less perfect for the part.

Foy’s ability to emit such emotion through restraint - largely due to those expressive eyes of hers - always made Queen Elizabeth II a human beneath the emotionless veneer but Colman’s Queen sometimes just falls into coming across as a bit too openly miserable.

Olivia Colman as The Queen in The Crown season 3

Still, the Oscar-winner is a dependable anchor to the action around her, even if the best performances are from the supporting players.

Meanwhile, Tobias Menzies takes on the role of a more supportive but increasingly unhappy Prince Philip, bringing a gravitas and understated sadness to the role of the royal consort, who can still turn on the humour and charm when needed.

Other strengths come in the rest of the Queen’s family, with Helena Bonham Carter being wonderfully acidic and vulnerable as the troubled but spoilt Princess Margaret, sharing great on-screen chemistry with Ben Daniels as an older and more enigmatic Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon.

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

Charles Dance is also reliably strong as the pragmatic Lord Louis Mountbatten, but Marion Bailey is underused as The Queen Mother, who receives little screentime across the third run.

The scene-stealers, however, are talented God’s Own Country star Josh O’Connor as the isolated and eccentric Prince Charles who faces heartbreak and finding his place as heir to the throne, and likely fan-favourite Erin Doherty as the sarcastic and intelligent Princess Anne.

Erin Doherty as Princess Anne

Keeping in line with the second season, creator Peter Morgan often centres each of the ten episodes on specific historical events or crises, with the the more contained episodes often offering the most illuminating and engrossing snapshots into royal life.

Highlights include the tear-jerking look at the tragic Aberfan disaster in the third episode, an episode focused on the amazing but difficult life of Philip’s mother Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark (an astoundingly good Jane Lapotaire), and a moving look at Prince Charles visiting Wales to learn Welsh from a Welsh nationalist.

Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles, Prince of Wales

One of the best running storylines, however, is the relationship between The Queen and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who is brought to life with a thoroughly human performance from Jason Watkins, and provides an unlikely fun duo to behold.

An element that will surprise viewers in how little screentime it gets will likely be the early romance of Prince Charles and Camilla Shand (a charming Emerald Fennell), which is examined mostly through the House of Windsor’s reactions and not as much time with the lovers themselves.

Throughout, the production values on this season show that Netflix has spared no expense on the third run, with beautiful locations and decadent costumes providing a gorgeous feast for the eyes.

Charles Dance (centre) as Lord Louis Mountbatten

Some moments in the series do descend into decadent soap opera, however, and may feel heavy-handed but the show is a drama first and foremost and not a documentary series, so some theatricality is to be expected - and enjoyed, too.

As usual, one will also question if the show acts solely as a PR exercise for the Royal Family and in many ways it does, humanising its most prominent members even those who have been the most touched by controversy.

However, the series also never shies away from criticism either, and also actively looks to tackle some of the more uncomfortable and unlikable elements from the Royals’ dramatic history.

Lord Snowdon (left) clashes with Princess Margaret (right)

So, rest assured, The Crown remains a fascinating, well-acted, and sumptuous drama series and one that is also, on the whole, rather balanced in how it examines what is likely the most famous family in the world.

Bring on Season 4!

Verdict

The Crown season 3

The Crown season 3 contains some fascinating snapshots of royal history and features a talented ensemble at the top of their game in a sumptuous production. The scene-stealers, however, are newbies Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty as the next generation of royals, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, respectively.

The Crown season 3 is released on Netflix on Sunday, November 17, 2019.

Are you excited for the return of The Crown? Let us know in the comments below .


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