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This Week in Period Dramas – Sunday News Roundup 4th February 2018

With awards season in full swing, news that doesn't involve a little gold statuette has been pretty thin on the ground in the last couple of weeks. As ever with awards though, period dramas have been well represented at the Oscars, from Rachel Morrison's historical nomination for Best Cinematography on Mudbound, to Phantom Thread's recognition for Costume Design and The Shape of Water's 13 nods. We'll be reviewing a few of those films over the next few weeks, starting with…

Review: The Alienist – Episode 1

In a dark and brooding kind of month, what better than a dark and brooding kind of drama? Enter The Alienist, an adaptation of Caleb Carr's best-selling novel set in 1896 New York City. Directed by Jakob Verbruggen (Black Mirror) and produced by Cary Fukanaga (True Detective, 2011's Jane Eyre), the drama has the weight of top television creators behind it. Episode one made a compelling start to the four-part series. It followed Dr Laszlo Kriezler (Daniel Bruhl), an 'alienist'…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 10 ‘Mystery Man’

We've reached the conclusion of season two of The Crown. It's also our final episode with Claire Foy and Matt Smith as the leads, along with much of the rest of the cast, potentially. Fortunately, Foy and Smith reminded us of exactly how phenomenal they are in this show with a quiet, but poignant, finale. I love Olivia Colman as much as the next British person with any sense, but I will be sad to lose Foy's titan performance. That…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 9 ‘Paterfamilias’

The Crown waited until its penultimate episode for the series gut-punch, as 'Paterfamilias' explored the relationship between Philip and his son, and the traumatic childhood that he left behind. I do occasionally complain that this series focuses too much on Philip, who is portrayed in The Crown as pretty unbearable at times. Episode nine justified that focus though, with heart-wrenching scenes and phenomenal acting. That's part of the reason for this slight delay in episode reviews - after all, an…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 8 ‘Dear Mrs Kennedy’

The Crown took us to the very distant past in episode eight, recounting the events of an American president and his first lady visiting Buckingham Palace without complete embarrassment. Of course, these days, the American president is too terrified to visit the UK because a bunch of angry British people will briefly leave behind their repressed nature and show intense displeasure in the form of shouting and no biscuits over tea. Anyway, I digress - back to semi-fictional drama! The…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 7 ‘Matrimonium’

Despite the best efforts of Disney, I think we can all agree that the love stories of real-life princesses aren't always the fairytale that they're imagined to be. From Princess Grace to Diana and Charlene, none of them have had the best luck in husbands, despite the rich luxury that comes with the marriage. Princess Margaret in The Crown is no exception, and as her older sister points out, she's far too invested in her luxurious life to leave it…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 6 ‘Vergangenheit’

The past returns to haunt the royal family in episode 6 of The Crown, as the Duke of Windsor attempts to return to British society. Starting with a flashback to 1945, where everybody's favourite Jared Harris makes a small, but affecting appearance, a buried box found in a German forest finds its way to Buckingham palace. The contents? Revelations that the abdicated ex-king had attempted to bargain with the Nazis during World War II for his own reinstatement to the…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 5 ‘Marionettes’

The last couple episodes of The Crown have seen the drama follow a far more episodic structure, lengthening out the timeline to focus on pivotal single events. It works well in its favour, as while the earlier focus on the royal marriage was fascinating, there was just too much else going on during the late 1950s to be left in the background. In the case of episode five, it's an incendiary editorial in a little-known newspaper titled the National Review,…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 4 ‘Beryl’

The spotlight was eased on Queen Elizabeth and her husband in episode five, as The Crown turned to focus on Princess Margaret. Still heartbroken, still partying, she's spending her time in a drunken, miserable haze. One half-hearted marriage proposal falls through but in a positive (?) turn, she finds herself swept up by an assertive fashion photographer. Naturally for the rebel of the family, it does come with its own scandal. It was a joy to see more of Vanessa…

Review: The Crown, Season 2 – Episode 3 ‘Lisbon’

It's crunch time for the royal marriage in The Crown, as word gets out about the Duke of Edinburgh's private secretary, Mike Parker. Parker's wife has decided to go ahead and file divorce on the grounds of adultery, leading to a lot of press speculation for the royals by association. When the reasons of the separation gets out there, the rumour mill goes into overdrive as to whether Philip might have been as 'restless' as his best friend whilst travelling…