Blu-ray/DVD review: “The Crown – Series Three” (2019)

“The Crown – Series Three” (2019)

Television Drama

Ten Episodes

Created by: Peter Morgan

Featuring: Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Daniels, Jason Watkins, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty, Jane Lapotaire, Charles Dance, Josh O’Connor, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Maloney, Emerald Fennell and Andrew Buchan

Queen Elizabeth II: “You were my guardian angel. The roof over my head. The spine in my back. The iron in my heart. You were the compass that steered and directed me. Not just me, all of us. Where would Great Britain be without its… greatest Briton? God bless you, Winston.”

Released recently on blu-ray and DVD is “The Crown – Series Three” (2019) to coincide with the fourth season that is airing now on Netflix. The third series traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II between 1964 and 1977, beginning with Harold Wilson’s election as prime minister and ending with the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The most obvious difference from this season to previous ones is the introduction of a mostly-new cast with the most obvious difference is Olivia Colman playing the lead role as the queen following Claire Foy who performed a star making turn, with the newly minted Oscar winner giving another great showing. The other major changes include Prince Philip now being played by Tobias Menzies (previously by Matt Smith), Helena Bonham Carter is now Princess Margaret (previously by Vanessa Kirby), and Geraldine Chaplin as “Wallis” — the Duchess of Windsor (previously played by Lia Williams).

Upon viewing this third season it is not hard to remember why this series has been such a huge hit both commercially as well as critically. Not only is the acting superb, the plot becomes more involved with the best parts of a soap opera coming to the fore. For me with the star still being the Queen herself it is easy to see that she is cut off from the public both physically and emotionally this is none more obvious than with the 1966 Aberfan Mine Disaster. The queen avoids visiting the site of the accident for several days, and you would have imagined emotions building up. But, when she finally travels to the mine and meets family members who lost children in the accident she barely sheds a tear.

This is another great season and does not face the backlash that season four is currently encountering, of course the shift to Diana from the Queen is a major narrative change, one that will obviously pay off at a later date.

Video

The third season follows the same specs as the previous two seasons, with 1080p video presented at 2.00:1 aspect ratio. The color rendering is very close between the Digital 4k stream and the Blu-ray Discs.

Audio

As in previous seasons of The Crown on Blu-ray, the soundtrack is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channels in both English and French.

Special Features

  • Behind The Crown: The Making of Season Three
  • Charles’ Investiture: Growing Up Royal
  • Royal Fabrics: A Look at the Costumes
  • Photo Gallery

Episodes

Olding: In 1964, as Britain welcomes new Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Elizabeth hears rumours that Wilson is working for the KGB under the alias “Olding”. She rebuffs them as gossip, but then learns from a dying Winston Churchill that he was suspicious of Wilson during his time as Prime Minister. Margaret, now Countess of Snowdon, suffers a failing marriage to Tony. The following year, while attending Churchill’s funeral, Elizabeth witnesses Wilson engage in conversation with Russians. In Washington, D.C., a sleeper agent informs the Department of Justice of a KGB mole inside Buckingham Palace. Elizabeth later discovers art advisor Sir Anthony Blunt is the mole, but decides to keep the truth secret for fear of reputational damage. Philip confronts Blunt in private and finds that he knows about the Profumo affair.

Margaretology: In 1965, Margaret and Tony embark on a tour of the United States, visiting cities along the West Coast and staying with an Arizona family before attending Tony’s book launch in New York. In the UK, Wilson tells Elizabeth that the country needs a financial bailout from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and invites him to come to England to discuss the issue. After three failed attempts, Wilson concludes that Johnson declines because the United Kingdom did not support America in the Vietnam War. At the last minute, Johnson invites Margaret to a private dinner at the White House, where her informality and sense of fun persuades him to help with the bailout. Philip later advises Elizabeth not to give her any more responsibilities.

Aberfan: In October 1966, following the Aberfan disaster, Elizabeth decides to postpone a visit to the village despite Wilson’s attempts to convince her to go. Philip attends the funeral of the children who died. The public blames the National Coal Board for the disaster before blame shifts toward the government. Hearing suggestions that she is not being sympathetic, Elizabeth confronts Wilson, who says this came from someone in his cabinet. Elizabeth later visits Aberfan, laying flowers on the graves and visiting grieving families. In private, she cries while listening to a recording of the hymn sung at the children’s funeral.

Bubbikins: Elizabeth learns that Princess Alice, who has been living in Athens, Greece, is in danger from the recent imposition of military rule. She arranges for Alice to come and stay at Buckingham Palace, despite Philip’s protests. As Elizabeth and Anne look after Alice, the royal family participates in a documentary to show the public they are normal people. Critics rebuff the documentary, prompting Philip to arrange an interview for Princess Anne with Guardian reporter John Armstrong. However, Armstrong interviews Alice instead, and the subsequent article is a success, resulting in Philip making amends with his mother.

Coup: In 1967, Elizabeth and Porchey travel to France and America to learn about modern methods of racehorse breeding and training, while Wilson finally decides to devalue the pound. Cecil Harmsworth King meets Lord Mountbatten, and proposes a plan to replace Wilson. Mountbatten is attracted by the idea, but raises concerns about whether it is practicable. Wilson calls Elizabeth to raise his suspicions. Elizabeth scolds Mountbatten, who later visits Alice to discuss old age and their place in society.

Tywysog Cymru: On advice from Wilson, Elizabeth sends Charles, who has found happiness and a taste for amateur dramatics at Cambridge, to Wales to learn the language before his investiture as Prince of Wales. He befriends tutor Tedi Millward and becomes sympathetic to his Welsh nationalism. Charles’s decision to include statements in his speech expressing support for Wales, angers Elizabeth. Charles requests a meeting with his mother, hoping for appreciation or even affection, but receives neither; he is told he must suppress his personal opinions. Charles returns to Cambridge and stars in a performance of Richard II, where Anne is in attendance.

Moondust: In 1969, amid the first moon landing, Philip starts feeling dissatisfied with his lack of achievement and searches for inspiration. When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin visit Britain as part of their world tour, Philip arranges a private interview. Asking them what being on the moon was like, he is disappointed by their mundane answers and their elementary questions about palace life. Philip later complains about the Dean of Windsor, prompting Elizabeth to have the Dean retire and name Robin Woods his successor. Woods invites Philip to take part in the religious academy he has opened in the castle grounds. Philip tells the group he has lost his faith following his mother’s recent death, and asks for their help in restoring it.

Dangling Man: Charles is in a  love triangle with Andrew Parker Bowles and his girlfriend Camilla Shand. Princess Anne has an affair with Parker Bowles. Elizabeth meets the Duke of Windsor before his death; they reflect upon the circumstances that led to Elizabeth’s becoming Queen. He asks for her forgiveness, but she remarks that she is sometimes thankful that he abdicated. He gives her Charles’s letters to him, which she reads with concern. Edward Heath becomes Prime Minister following the 1970 general election.

Imbroglio: Electricity supply in the UK is being rationed because of the  miners’ strike. Lord Mountbatten and Elizabeth succeed in stopping the relationship between Charles and Camilla – Charles is posted overseas for eight months. After the Queen Mother talks to the parents of Andrew Parker-Bowles and Camilla, Andrew and Camilla get married. The Queen hears from Anne about her affair with Parker Bowles and her belief that Camilla is destined for him, not Charles.

Cri de Coeur: After her marriage continues to fall apart, Margaret is introduced to Roddy Llewellyn, and they begin a relationship. They visit the Caribbean, where they are photographed together; the pictures are printed in the newspapers. Elizabeth calls them back to Britain based on advice from her mother. Following Wilson’s resignation, Margaret attempts suicide, although after Elizabeth visits her, they bond again and talk about her failed marriage and their age. Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated, marking her 25th anniversary as the United Kingdom’s sovereign.

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