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King Charles III

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Editor's Note:

Discuss King Charles III here!

 

 

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The hit Broadway show King Charles III, starring Tim Pigott-Smith, adapted for television, comes soon to MASTERPIECE. A 2016 Tony nominee for Best Play, the drama imagines Prince Charles’ ascension to the throne following Queen Elizabeth’s death. King Charles III, a special one-night television event, airs Sunday, May 14 at 9/8c.

Trailer here. Tim Pigott-Smith died earlier this month.

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Wow, I didn't know TPS was dead. Damn! I saw him on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh; he was awesome. And too much tv character work to count. Damn.

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I liked him, too.  This play, however, is pure dreck.  I cannot imagine how it became a hit on broadway.  I've endured it a half hour, and will endure no more.

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I saw the play in Chicago with Robert Bathurst as Charles. I don't even know what to think of the story...

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-scratching head-  it's kind of odd, but i think i can make it through. :)

too bad about TPS. :(

although the spectre of Diana is getting to be a bit much.

Edited by janeta

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I decided to watch the rest, and I cannot believe this author wrote Kate and William to be so evil and venal.  What a horrible story this is!

Also, I can't imagine this will make William and Kate more popular in the people's eyes.

Edited by Brattinella
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I watched the whole thing, intrigued by the acting and the words, and appalled by the storyline.  I can not imagine that if the King opposed a law that put governmental limits on the press, that the press would not be screaming in the largest possible headlines their support for the King and their disdain for Parliament.  It would not happen!

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11 minutes ago, j5cochran said:

I watched the whole thing, intrigued by the acting and the words, and appalled by the storyline.  I can not imagine that if the King opposed a law that put governmental limits on the press, that the press would not be screaming in the largest possible headlines their support for the King and their disdain for Parliament.  It would not happen!

YES times 100!

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I usually love the Masterpiece productions but this one just stunk. Improbable storyline, terrible acting, lousy cinematography, even the crown jewels looked phony. So totally unrealistic. 

Whoever played the Jess character was the worst. I couldn't understand a word she said. 

I kept watching hoping it would get better, but unfortunately it didn't. 

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Sad about TPS. The acting was good, but I found the plot implausible. Totally out of character for all the royals, especially Kate and Wills. Was really looking forward to this, but am disappointed.

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Heh, at the beginning I was thinking finally - Ronald Merrick showed those upper class idiots up and he's now in charge....and then at the end, poor Ronald they got him again.  

Tim was amazing - I don't think he was doing an impression but at times, it was eerily just like Charles.  And, aw, it was dedicated to him.

The Harry character was just horrible.  The actor and the part was so blah.  Even when Prince Harry went through his years of depression, he was still a charming guy and very charismatic.  I know I don't see him in person and he is maybe different when "off stage" but he is just so good when interacting with people and this guy....boring.  William is supposed to be the boring one :-)  And I know this is not a documentary but why have a character that is just boring and unsympathetic.  As was Jess.  

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I saw this on Broadway right before Christmas in 2015.  It seemed seriously cut-down for TV, but I can't put my finger on what was missing.  I think there were more 1-on-1 scenes with Charles and the PM and Charles and the opposition leader. Incidentally, it was emphasized in the play that the bill was put forth by the Labour party and the Labour PM, and was opposed by the Conservatives.  So there was a lot of talk about why the Labour party was doing this.  And there was a lot more of Jessica too, who was played by a white actress onstage.  Interesting that they went with a black actress, because Harry's girlfriend Meghan Markle is mixed-race (and 100% Canadian!).

 

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 I can not imagine that if the King opposed a law that put governmental limits on the press, that the press would not be screaming in the largest possible headlines their support for the King and their disdain for Parliament.  It would not happen!

Totally!  The British media have more guts than ours. And Charles would have had a lot of support in the Commons from politicians of all parties.

Plus, Kate is not smart enough to be a Lady Macbeth-in-training; William would never be so disloyal to his father; Camilla might chew out Will but would never hit him; and while I like Charles, I don't believe that he would go as far as he does in the play.

Richard Goulding played Harry onstage too, but seems to have discovered carbs since then -- he wasn't nearly this chunky.

And the blank verse made more sense in the theater; on TV it just seemed a silly way of talking.

I'm glad it was filmed for TV, and TPS goes out in style, but this piece really works better in the theater.

Edited by Sarcastico
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 I can not imagine that if the King opposed a law that put governmental limits on the press, that the press would not be screaming in the largest possible headlines their support for the King and their disdain for Parliament.  It would not happen!

Yeah, it seemed like a strange thing to cause such a crisis - it wasn't anything that benefited Charles and he was doing something for the good of the country.  And if he had signed it, it would have seen somewhat bad - the king making the press less free. Now it had been something like refusing to sign a law that banned hunting...or knowing Charles something involving gardening. 

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I enjoyed it.  I'm not expecting a biography so if some characters don't act differently than their corresponding public personas, that's fine by me.

It reminded me of To Play The King, the second installment of the British version, i.e. original, House of Cards, but there were also some shades of The Crown

The abdication scene called to mind the troubles Henry II had with all of his sons wanting power.

I also enjoyed the cadence.

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I watched a few minutes, did a WTF, and came here to see what was going on.
I didn't know it was a play, and thought it would be a speculative piece on how things might be for Charles, when the Queen dies.
Watched a bit more, then ff'd to the end.
Can't think that William is really like that, and I'm pegging Charles as tiresome on his subjects of architecture and homeopathy.
I wonder if he will take his name, and be Charles III, or become George VII, in honor of his grandfather.

 

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10 hours ago, Sarcastico said:

Harry's girlfriend Meghan Markle is mixed-race (and 100% Canadian!).

She's actually American, born and raised in LA.

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I knew nothing about this when it popped up on my DVR.  I love all things British, so I watched it last night. I fell asleep a few times, rewound to try to catch up, fell asleep again.  I did make it through the whole thing and my reaction overall was "WTF was that?"  The 'behind the scenes' thing at the end left me even more befuddled...this was a hit play??? Ghosts of Diana?  Kate is Lady Macbeth? The only thing that I thought was good was how much most of the actors looked like their characters.  Even little George & Charlotte looked close to reality.  Harry was a bit pudgy though. 

I get it that is was a fictitious look at what the future "could" hold for the monarchy, and telling the story in blank verse was supposed to give it some Shakespearean legitimacy.  But if anyone asked me if they should give up 90 min to watch this, I'd suggest reruns of "Wolf Hall" or "Victoria".  Or binge watch "The Crown" instead.  Two crowns thumbs down.

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[Small but persistent voice], Actually I liked this one! I suppose it was due to the idea of what I thought would be a somewhat accurate portrayal of someone who'd been raised from the age of three to be a future king finally becoming king at an age when others were keen on retirement but finding that the position wasn't going to be as smooth for him as he though.  I also thought that the late performer Mr. Pigott-Smith did get what some of the title character's reactions would have been like right. Moreover, I liked the blank verse dialogue which IMO fitted the Shakespearean twists. Also, I was relieved that it did not portray the current Duchess of Cornwall as a firebreathing dragon but as someone who genuinely wanted the best for her husband.  Obviously none of us know what they're 'really' like but this was a good imagining. Lastly, I wonder if the current Prince of Wales may actually surprise everyone by choosing one of his other given names( Phillip Arthur George)  as did his predecessor Edward VII whom everyone (especially his late mother) expected to rule as Albert I but opted for the name of the maternal grandfather he never knew.

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5 hours ago, BusyOctober said:

But if anyone asked me if they should give up 90 min to watch this, I'd suggest reruns of "Wolf Hall" or "Victoria".  Or binge watch "The Crown" instead. 

I thought The Queen, the movie on the palace's reaction to Diana's death, was much more watchable, and seemed true to all the gossip and accounts I'd read.
Something like that is what I was expecting.

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This sucks. I can't imagine any of this actually happening. If the Govt put those kinds of restrictions on the press, the world would be outraged. No one in the civilized world should or would allow it.

William and Kate would never be so evil to Prince Charles.

The only thing I liked about this was that Jess was only a problem because she was a commoner not because she was black. She appeared on screen and I thought, here we go. I was very pleasantly surprised. ETA: and then he dumps her flat because William told him too?

I really thought Charles was going to drop dead at the end.

Edited by Arynm · Reason: finished watching

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Count me as another who enjoyed it.  Quite a lot, actually.  Perhaps because, very early on (like within the first couple of minutes), I was divorced from the notion that this was any kind of biopic.  Rather, for me, it was a modern Shakespearean tragedy, based loosely on known personages from our present-day.  (Which is not so unlike what Shakespeare did himself. )  I wasn't put off by any of the characters, nor did it feel to me like Kate and William were presented as odious.  No one was a straight-out villain; everyone had good reasons, from their particular point of view.  I could have wished for a little more time developing the Harry & Jess storyline; that felt a bit rushed to me.  Someone above wrote that is was more developed in the play so perhaps I'll have to read that.  

Lastly, I loved the music!

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4 hours ago, Arynm said:

The only thing I liked about this was that Jess was only a problem because she was a commoner not because she was black.

Kate was a commoner, and all of the Charles' siblings spouses.  That shouldn't be a problem.  Diana was a commoner, though from an aristocratic family.

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2 hours ago, auntjess said:

Kate was a commoner, and all of the Charles' siblings spouses.  That shouldn't be a problem.  Diana was a commoner, though from an aristocratic family.

They need all the "common" blood that they can get, all the royal families were so inbred before they were allowed to mix with the people. There are portraits out there that are frightening, plus all the hemophilia.

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9 hours ago, mcjen said:

Count me as another who enjoyed it.  Quite a lot, actually.  Perhaps because, very early on (like within the first couple of minutes), I was divorced from the notion that this was any kind of biopic.  Rather, for me, it was a modern Shakespearean tragedy, based loosely on known personages from our present-day.

Yes, thank you. I didn't see this as a character referendum on the real William and Kate. To me, it was an exploration on the meaning of 21st century monarchy in Britain. Should the monarchy be an independent institution that stands for principle (Charles), a facade that inspires but which is ultimately powerless (Will & Kate), or has it run its course altogether (Harry)? And TPS did a good job with the role.

I can believe there were parts of the play that were cut for the TV broadcast, because some points felt rushed. Charles seemed to go quickly from having about 50/50 public support to being burned in effigy. The Harry/Jess relationship was not well-developed, and it confused me that he was released from being a royal and yet 10 minutes later he's back to tell his father to abdicate for the good of the monarchy. And why would Harry need to sign an abdication decree for it to be official?

I did enjoy this though. At least it was something a bit original and not another mystery-solving clergyman. 

ETA: I was just reading about the play and evidently the choice to include a press freedom bill as the focal point was inspired by the News Corp. phone hacking scandal. Which would have made a lot more sense if they gave it context in the play.

Edited by LaChavalina
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I didn't like the blank verse. It was as if the playwright was screaming "Shakespeare" at the top of his lungs! Not only shades of MacBeth, but also King Lear. The acting was great, and the basic premise seemed sound, but the way it played out seemed totally unrealistic to me.

And where was Prince Andrew in all of this?

I still remember TPS from THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN. A great actor who will be sorely missed. This was a good way to go out if there aren't any other unreleased performances.

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Yes, I noticed the absence of Charles's sibs and in-laws (and I don't think it would have hurt the flow to have at least put in a mention or two). However; I'm not sure exactly what roles these shirt tail royals could have played -apart from being more superfluous after Her Majesty's death in that they'd be the King's sibs rather than the Queen's kids and would likely be regulated to more obscure ribbon cutting than now. Somehow, I couldn't imagine this rendition of Charles wanting much to do with said sibs even with the plot's twists.

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At first I just thought it was awful, then I realized they were speaking in verse and I started to see how it might have worked on stage as MCGEN said, using these particular characters we know to tell a tragic story that doesn't really have much to do with them personally (or intend to).  The fact that everyone's characters seemed off base was another part of not really trying to convince us that it's any kind of realistic depiction.  And at the same time it points out that we all THINK we know them and of course we have no idea.  Ghost of Diana was a hoot.

I fast forwarded through all the Harry scenes as he and the girlfriend character were unwatchable.  And I wondered just how Charles commanded a tank roll out.  Don't think it works that way...

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16 hours ago, LaChavalina said:

I didn't see this as a character referendum on the real William and Kate. To me, it was an exploration on the meaning of 21st century monarchy in Britain. Should the monarchy be an independent institution that stands for principle (Charles), a facade that inspires but which is ultimately powerless (Will & Kate), or has it run its course altogether (Harry)?

Thanks, LaChavalina - you stated that much more clearly than I did.  And I would add to it the examination of a man who has waited in the wings his entire lifetime, until well into his senior years, before finally getting his chance to take center stage.  And then...blows it.

I understand that some were put off by the blank verse and I'll admit I wasn't immediately a fan.  But, very quickly, it felt right.  It lent just the right amount of gravitas, without jumping off the cliff into a sea of "thou varlet"s and such.  Without the blank verse, I'm not sure I would have made the connection to Shakespearean tragedy; mightn't it all have seemed to just be a very fanciful biopic, as you might see on Lifetime or Oxygen channel?   And the mix of stately language with occasional vernacular had me chuckling aloud in a few places.  Example:

Harry:  (coming down the stairs at night)  I'm sure I heard a scream.

William:     So did I.

Harry:  So like our mother's voice.  It freaked me out!

Iambic pentameter (if you add William's short line to Harry's first line).  But the naturalness of "it freaked me out" - it cracked me up.

I also thought the use of Diana was fine.  Imagine if Shakespeare had such a figure to hand in a tragedy or a history:  a former princess, spurned, tragically deceased, ex-wife to the new king and mother to his heirs...?  Of course, Shakespeare would have had her appear, commenting on the action!  I liked that it wasn't overdone - just a few appearances, with "prophecies" that were open to different interpretations.  And the choir chanting "Lacrimosa" underneath. 

Yep, I'm definitely a fan of this.  I've already re-watched at PBS online.

Edited by mcjen
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This was . . . strange. There was something altogether unsettling about it, from the opening shots of the draped coffin being paraded through the streets. Almost as if I were glimpsing into a future where I no longer existed. The writer/director said in the "making of" special it could be thought of as an alternate universe, and that's probably the best approach to it. Perhaps in this world Charles didn't even have any siblings, because their absence at the funeral seemed rather glaring. The story played out as if the only "family" were Charles, his children, his wife, and his grandchildren. 

I did think it had something interesting to say about the role of the British monarchy but the alternate versions of Harry and Kate, in particular, seemed so vastly different from the ones we know in our world it was just distracting and disarming. And on a shallow note I couldn't stop thinking about how much less attractive this Harry was than the real one.

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Diana was a commoner

Diana was the daughter of an Earl - not technically a commoner. Sarah Ferguson was a commoner.

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Nobles in Britain are the holder of the title only - not their spouse or children. 

While true we do not tend to think of the families of titled nobles as "commoners" - for instance, Lady Mary on Downton Abbey - most people watching that show wouldn't think to call her a "commoner." Like Diana, as the daughter of an earl she is styled as "Lady" Mary. Generally commoners are thought to be those without titles.

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On 5/16/2017 at 7:46 AM, BusyOctober said:

I get it that is was a fictitious look at what the future "could" hold for the monarchy, and telling the story in blank verse was supposed to give it some Shakespearean legitimacy.  But if anyone asked me if they should give up 90 min to watch this, I'd suggest reruns of "Wolf Hall" or "Victoria".  Or binge watch "The Crown" instead.  Two crowns thumbs down.

In my opinion, Wolf Hall and Victoria are no more historically accurate than Charles III, and arguably less so since they were presented as historical dramas rather than speculative fiction based on real life people

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7 hours ago, Constantinople said:

In my opinion, Wolf Hall and Victoria are no more historically accurate than Charles III, and arguably less so since they were presented as historical dramas rather than speculative fiction based on real life people

I didn't like this because of the story, the acting, the characterizations, etc.  It just wasn't my cup of tea, and if anyone asked my opinion of it, I'd suggest other shows or movies I enjoyed more instead. My dislike had nothing to do with historical accuracy.  How could it be historically accurate when it takes place in the future? And I do agree with you that most historical dramas are not accurate.  Unless written from the point of view of a biography or from a contemporary's diary, it would be next to impossible for anything produced in the 20th/21st century to accurately reflect the real facts of events that took place centuries ago.  Some shows get it closer to "real" than others, but I guess it's up to each viewer to decide what discrepancies he or she can tolerate.

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I loved the Shakespearean metre in this movie, and the way the Royals sounded so much more formal than everyone else.  But the controversy seemed ... lame. Would people really get riled up over the would-be king trying to protect freedom of the press (rather than restrict it)? That rang hollow for me. Although I did dig the MP who clued Charles into the historical move of dissolving Parliament without leaving any fingerprints.  

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I enjoyed it. It held my attention, which is more than I can say for most television these days. I missed the beginning, so I hope it's repeated at some point, although I suspect what I saw was the repeat.

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On 2017-05-16 at 2:05 PM, mcjen said:

Count me as another who enjoyed it.  Quite a lot, actually.  Perhaps because, very early on (like within the first couple of minutes), I was divorced from the notion that this was any kind of biopic.  Rather, for me, it was a modern Shakespearean tragedy, based loosely on known personages from our present-day.  (Which is not so unlike what Shakespeare did himself. )  I wasn't put off by any of the characters, nor did it feel to me like Kate and William were presented as odious.  No one was a straight-out villain; everyone had good reasons, from their particular point of view.  I could have wished for a little more time developing the Harry & Jess storyline; that felt a bit rushed to me.  Someone above wrote that is was more developed in the play so perhaps I'll have to read that. 

This is pretty much me.  I only caught the second half (no PBS on-line if you're not in the US) but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.  It fits the true definition of a dramatic tragedy, characters whose downfall is brought about by their own personalities and actions.

As others have said above, this bears as much reality, or rather as little, as a real play by Shakespeare and probably more than some (cough, Richard III).  There weren' the real royals, they were exaggerations for dramatic effect.

I especially loved the iambic pentameter because it seemed to fit the subject and the characters so well.

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