There's a logic in waiting until Christmas to watch the show. Christmas TV is pretty frivolous stuff. Forget serious, brutal conversation starters, you're much more likely to find pure entertainment on offer – Downton Abbey-oid melodramas that star thrusting young things dressed up in slip-me-off petticoats.
Season two of The Crown offers a gripping – and surprisingly very funny – examination of British high society and political life during the 60s, and the shockwaves sent through a lumbering ancient institution as the world modernised around it.
But, the further (and further) The Crown moves away from truth-telling, and into realm of the exaggerated, the less good it becomes. Prepare to spend Christmas day engaged in battle with the internet, searching for information on the Duke of Windsor's Nazi affiliations and whether Jackie Kennedy and the Queen really had a 'cat fight' (as JFK improbably puts it).
Despite some questionable moments, The Crown is compulsive drama. Writer Peter Morgan makes clever use of the flash back and flash forward to show us how the Royal family (in particular Prince Philip) became the mad, quirky characters we know from the newspapers.
For all its flaws, the show has some eye-watering revelations for those who didn't grow up in the 60s; for even at its weirdest (it's hard to believe that every other public figure in the 60s was in the grip of a rampant drug habit, for example) there's at least a loose base in reality.
Expect to see a return of a fiery Princess Margaret, as she struggles to be a woman for the 'modern age' and attempts to rebel whilst still holding tightly onto her Royal privileges.
Prepare to fall madly in love with the young Prince Charles (that sounds unlikely, but trust us) and – despite everything the Americans have ever told as about the Kennedys – decide that Jackie and John F. Kennedy might actually have been pretty beastly.
Claire Foy offers such a vibrant portrait of a bouncing young Queen, that (nasty Jackie's) accusations that Elizabeth is a philistine actually become hard to believe. Matt Smith's Prince Philip is damaged, cheeky and a good laugh. We'll be sorry to see Foy and Smith leave when they're replaced by a new cast next year (Olivia Colman stepping into the soft, silken shoes of Her Royal Highness).
So, this Christmas, settle down for ten hours of marvellous, frivolous entertainment. But keep the internet close at hand. This year, it's much less history drama and much more Downton Abbey.
|The Crown season two review, Netflix
|UK Netflix | MAP
08 Dec 17 – 28 Feb 18, The Crown season two air date: 8 December 2017