Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: “The Crown” Comes to a Bittersweet End After Six Seasons as Prince Philip Says to Queen Elizabeth, “The good news is, the party’s over”


I know you will want to skip to the final episode of “The Crown” when the remainder of season 6 drops this morning.

Please don’t! Watch it in order so the buildup to the inevitable, bittersweet ending can grab you by the throat. If you’ve been a fan of this series, the final few episodes bring the series to a glorious and sad ending.

Much of Season has already been taken up by Charles and Diana, and the latter’s death. Now we get high school age William and Harry, how they adapt to the death, to Diana, and to Charles’s marriage to Camilla. This is the take away from all that: no actress can make Camilla attractive or likeable. Olivia Williams certainly tries here. But it’s a thankless job.

“The Crown” telling us almost nothing about Ann, Andrew or Edward. There’s no Koo Stark or Randy Andy or Fergie sucking toes. That’s why “The Crown” now becomes real historical fiction, with imagined conversations, the clanking of chains through the palaces, and a heavy dollop of Tony Blair. The series which relied so much on newsreels and actual accounts of events takes a sharp turn into soap opera.

Other than the final episode, the two that really stand out are one about the Queen facing the changing public’s attitude toward the monarchy, and another about Princess Margaret’s sad, final days. Lesley Manville is deeply moving as Margaret. Peter Morgan does a lot to portray the sisters’ relationship from the day their father died til the end.

What does permeate the final episodes is a frostiness between Elizabeth and Philip. You get the feeling that she loved him but she’s pretty much had it with him. When he dies, it’s almost a relief. Morgan allows the Queen some self reflection, and we get a chance to go back to her Claire Foy youth for one untold episode when Elizabeth was at a crossroads choosing between public duty and her own needs.

Imelda Staunton looks and sounds more like Foy than Olivia Colman, although both former Queens do turn up at the end in Elizabeth’s memory. But Staunton could not look more like the idea of the real Elizabeth, and hues closer to our original feeling for her under Foy, just with more gravitas. She leaves a deep impression, as the excellent Jonathan Pryce says — in his final, no doubt award winning speech that defines not just the moment but all of our feelings about the Crown– “The good news is, the party’s over.” We know she stayed as long as she could to prevent what happens after the series, what we now know to be the vicious battering of everything Elizabeth worked for in her 70 year reign.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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