Netflix’s The Crown: Wolferton Splash

Not quite a “recap” of The Crown Episode 1

In one minute and thirty seconds, this is what you (not just Prince Phillip) need to know:


But watching TV on a need-to-know basis is not really the point.

  • Netflix has typically written it’s binge-driven, drop-all-the-episodes-at-once dramas as though the chief goal of a pilot is to get you to stream the next hour almost reflexively.  The Crown is compelling but lacks that tug. Like eating a slice of cake that you’ll gladly have another piece of tomorrow but, no thank you, a second bit just now is more than required.
  • As with the above clip, foreshadowing is the overall flavor here–a work performed most often by King George (Jared Harris looking more like his father who originally played Albus Dumbledore).  He gets to say things like, “A sick king is no good to anyone. There must be no weakness, no vulnerability.” Clearly this sort of dialogue is not just set-dressing for George’s demise…
  • Yet for all its broadcasting that soon (soon!) things will change for Princess Elizabeth (and forever!), the pilot is strangely satisfying.  I’m particularly impressed at how little dialogue Elizabeth is given and the lovely effect it has on her characterization: So far the princess is a blank slate upon which both the people around her and the viewers project our expectations.  Well done.

Sidebar: Matt Smith blond and sometimes shirtless as Prince Phillip is conveying a jocular, mid-century, traditional masculinity that seems its own sort of fantastical detour into the past.  No Don Draper misgivings here, not yet anyway.  And to my happy surprised, The Doctor has not fettered Smith in the role, even when wearing bow ties–no small thing.

Matt Smith as Dr Who Bowties are Cool

Mr. Robot: Domo arigato, USA Network

I saw a commercial for Mr. Robot last week.  Okay, I saw it over and over again  on a loop in the background of Xfinity on demand. In it a young man darts his eyes around  nervously in a subway car, expressing his feeling of paranoia in demeanor as well as voiceover.  Then the tension breaks as a voice inside the car interrupts his inner monologue.  The voice of a decade’s worth of Panasonic commercials and before that the voice of 90s teen misanthropy: the voice of Christian Slater.

I like Christian Slater.  I love Pump Up the Volume.  I even like Kuffs–which was kinda terrible.  I’ve rooted for his previous attempts to jump back onto the A-list with a primetime TV vehicle but here, in this commercial, his presence dashed my hopes for something fresh from USA’s new series Mr. Robot.  Here, decked out in something like a modified 90s grunge look, Slater seemed mostly like an intertextual reference to his former self, a self who would have been cast as the young, paranoid rather than the knowing stranger on the subway car.  

Feeling semi-harangued by this Xfinity commercial, however, I finally gave in and streamed the series pilot.

And it was Really Good. Continue reading Mr. Robot: Domo arigato, USA Network

Praise Odin for that Catholic Priest

Two things are official:  I am hooked on Vikings.  And, the preview for next week has me concerned. 

The trailer for next week’s episode implies that the Anglo-Saxon Priest–Ragnar’s prisoner-of-war cum house slave–will see his end.   I feel like we have really needed that priest.  Here’s why: Continue reading Praise Odin for that Catholic Priest