Netflix has produced a variety of dramatic original series, but has not delved too deeply into period pieces and historical dramas. The network is now set to premiere British period drama The Crown, its most expensive original production yet with an estimated budget of about $156 million.
Produced mainly in the U.K., The Crown promises to feature a sprawling narrative chronicling significant British historical events as it follows the life of a young Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy. The program certainly has a wealth of true events with extraordinary magnitude to draw from - and from the looks of the first trailer, the production itself will be just as stunning as the events that it covers.
Netflix premiered the trailer for The Crown Tuesday, revealing a visually resplendent backdrop that appears to strive for absolute accuracy. The trailer showcases the performance of the show's main players and the lifeblood of the series: Foy as Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Who's Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh Philip Mountbatten, and John Lithgow (Dexter) as the legendary British statesman Winston Churchill. Based on the scenes featured in the trailer, the production values strive for accuracy and rival the biggest period productions committed to film, big screen or small.
Despite premiering on an American-based network and featuring a famous American actor in a prominent role, The Crown is a decidedly British production. Series creator and London native Peter Morgan wrote The Audience, the play that the series is originally based upon, wrote much of the series' inaugural season, and previously penned the screenplay for The Queen, the Elizabeth II biopic starring Helen Mirren in an Oscar-winning performance. British filmmaker Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) is credited with directing at least one episode.
The Crown will start with a ten-episode first season that will premiere all at once on Netflix on November 4th. Beginning with Elizabeth's wedding in 1947 and subsequent ascension to the titular crown, the series is expected to cover events up until the present day. Producers certainly have plenty of ground to cover and will have serious decisions to make with how to portray Elizabeth II in her later years. But with the talent involved and the high-end production values on display, the series is in good hands to start its run.
The Crown appears poised to deliver on the promise of its huge budget, faithfully recreating the distinctive, pivotal time period it depicts. The key to this series and just about any period piece, however, is the story and the performance of the actors in telling it. Downton Abbey has been a major hit in the United States - not because of the fancy sets and costumes, but because of its compelling drama and sympathetic characters. The Crown will have no shortage of great source material, but will need to strike the right balance of accuracy and intrigue to really be a success.
The Crown season 1 premieres November 4th, 2016 on Netflix.