In between bustle and triptofan slumbers, the holidays offer the opportunity to do gulp down some healthy portions of television. Over Thanksgiving I came across The Crown and was instantly hooked, taking in all 10 episodes by the time the last turkey leftovers disappeared. It deals with the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952 and her early years as British sovereign. The production marks another stage in the emergence of Netflix as an entertainment powerhouse. The online media company spent over $100 million on the series, and spent it wisely. The cast, headed by Claire Foy as the young queen and John Lithgow as wily Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is first rate. The series explores the often intense family disputes that occur amid the palaces and privilege, especially the lingering resentments of the abdication crisis that paved Elizabeth’s road to the throne in the first place, and the pressure of royal responsibility on her marriage.
The politicians get their share of attention. Even the magisterial Churchill, in his 70’s and serving his second term as Prime Minister, found acquiring and holding power to be a challenge, and he used every ounce of eloquence and gamesmanship at his command to bring it off. (The scene where he steals the show at Elizabeth’s wedding is a classic.) There’s something in this series for everyone, from political junkies to royal watchers to history buffs to fashion devotees. And since this is an aviation site, it would be remiss not to mention the cameo appearances put in by airplanes, from the one engine trainer Prince Philip uses for his flying lessons to the venerable propliners that carried the Queen on her journeys in the 1950’s!