The queen, the editor and the comic

Actors Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II, and Matt Smith who plays Philip Duke of Edinburgh, attend the premiere of "The Crown" Season 2 (photo credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)
Actors Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II, and Matt Smith who plays Philip Duke of Edinburgh, attend the premiere of "The Crown" Season 2
(photo credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)
Season Two of The Crown, the TV series about Queen Elizabeth II and the house of Windsor, will be released in its entirety by Netflix on December 8 and will be available for streaming to Netflix subscribers.
The first season was a huge hit, winning three Emmys and two Golden Globes. I recently caught up with Season One and I enjoyed it, in spite of the fact that I have a bit of an aversion to the royal family, which dates back to when I was an editor at the New York Post, which covered them so extensively that I had more than my fill. But the series works because there was so much soapy drama in the lives of the Windsors. It’s what Tim Sommer of The Independent calls a “HEAD,” a historical English accented drama, and it’s one of the best to come along in a while.
While the queen has always seemed like the blandest of humans in public, The Crown manages to turn her into a compelling character. Claire Foy brings out the touching side of a sheltered 25-year-old who suddenly had to assume a role of such great importance and visibility after the death of her father, who is played by Jared Harris (Lane on Mad Men). Matt Stone, a former Doctor Who, is very sexy as her charming but restless husband, Prince Philip. John Lithgow is not the actor you would immediately think of to play Winston Churchill, but he does as good a job as any recent Churchill imitator.
The first season covered the early days of the queen’s reign, but Season Two is set in the 1960s, and those of us of a certain age know what’s coming: the Profumo Affair, which involved government ministers, party girls, Russian spies and Prince Philip. One of the party girls, Mandy Rice-Davies, eventually converted to Judaism, married an El Al steward and opened restaurants and night clubs in Israel, although it’s unlikely that the series will follow her to Tel Aviv.
The Crown is a great deal of fun, but one infuriating aspect is its refusal — so far — to focus on the Duke of Windsor’s Nazi sympathies. The Duke of Windsor (Alex Jennings) was the king who abdicated in 1936 to marry the woman he loved, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The series details how most of the royal family hated the duke for his abdication, but it doesn’t show how he embraced the Nazis, going on a tour of Nazi Germany, talking about how England was going to lose the war and trying to cut a deal with the Third Reich to become king again.
As Sommer wrote, “The first requirement of any big HEAD: ‘First, do no harm.’ In other words, although bending some facts to fit the narrative may be essential, one should avoid making any deeply offensive errors. And there’s a big, fat one in The Crown.
Let’s hope this error is corrected in Season Two.
The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee, which is available on YES VOD, will be shown on December 11 at 10 p.m. on YES Docu. It’s a documentary based on the legendary Washington Post editor’s memoirs. Bradlee was the editor during the Watergate scandal and was instrumental in taking down president Richard Nixon. The documentary will get you in the mood for The Post, Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Oscar-bait movie about Bradlee, who is played by Tom Hanks, and Washington Post publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), and the publication of the Pentagon Papers.
If you missed one of the most enjoyable movies of the year, The Big Sick, you can see it on HOT VOD Movies starting on December 14. Written by Silicon Valley star and stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, it’s a black comedy based on their relationship. Shortly after they started dating, she got ill and went into a coma. He had to cope with the strange situation and get to know her parents (played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) at the same time. Zoe Kazan plays the character based on Gordon.
Even though this is a low-budget movie, it’s being mentioned as an Oscar contender.