Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say. That Beatles lyric pretty much sums up the problem, or at least the theme, of “The Crown” (TV-MA) season two, now streaming on Netflix.
To get right to the point, “The Crown” is still beautifully produced and wonderfully performed. But it’s a bit of a letdown from the brilliant first season.
The main reasons boil down to the absence of John Lithgow’s Winston Churchill and the fact that only two of 10 episodes revolve around Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby). If the aging Churchill brought heft and poignancy to the first season, Margaret provided the sizzle.
Season two covers one of the bleaker periods of British history, the years between the 1956 Suez Crisis that ended the government of Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam) and the 1963 Profumo affair that brought down Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (Anton Lesser).
Season two offers compelling accounts of the Duke (Alex Jennings) and Duchess (Lia Williams) of Windsor’s sordid dealings with the Third Reich and of Prince Philip’s (Matt Smith) family’s ties to the Nazis as well. There is an entire sad episode devoted to Philip’s insistence that young Charles (Billy Jenkins) suffer away at a spartan prep school in Scotland. Another involves the royals’ relationship with the Kennedys, featuring Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) as a woefully miscast JFK.
Season two offers a few meager tastes of Margaret’s growing relationship with London’s bohemian scene and her marriage to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode).
While “The Crown” tends to adhere to real history, its chronology comes unstuck when it depicts the Kennedy assassination as happening before the Profumo affair, when the opposite is true. It also completely ignores the fact that Kennedy had most certainly met the queen back in the late 1930s, when his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and an infamous advocate of appeasing Hitler.
“The Crown” shows how the job reduced the still young Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) to emotional reticence. Her performances often seem little more than a set of head tilts, sly smiles and widened eyes. Sometimes she appears more birdlike than human, a regal cockatoo.
Foy will relinquish the role to Olivia Colman (“Broadchurch”), who will play the queen in season three.
- Also streaming on Netflix: the 2017 dark comedy “El Camino Christmas” (TV-MA).
- A terror-linked movie studio may produce the wrong kind of bomb on “Blindspot” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Fish dominates the menu on “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- Victoria struggles to escape on “Once Upon a Time” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- A fight for Andy’s soul on “The Exorcist” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- Daisy courts doom on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- Erin considers dropping charges after a heroic act on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- The new series “Amazingness” (9:30 p.m., MTV, TV-14) puts amateur talents on display.
Alastair Sim stars as the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 Charles Dickens holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” (7 p.m., TCM), the best adaptation of them all.
Stranded in the Arctic on “MacGyver” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... As Rebecca improves, Paula finds her roots on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... A biological agent proves catching on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... A two-hour “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC) ... Jane enjoys her book tour on “Jane the Virgin” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC).
Mark Hamill is booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Hugh Jackman and Luke Bryan on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (10:35 p.m., ABC) is a repeat.
© 2017 United Feature Synd.