When it was announced that Doctor Who would not air this year, its fandom was upset to say the least. However, the science-fiction show about adventures in time and space has a long list of successful spin-off shows and this autumn sees the launch of another one. So far though, it unfortunately hasn’t lived up to the standard set by those of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Set in the fictional school where it all began; Class tells the story of students from Coal Hill Academy. The now renovated school was where Doctor Who started all those years ago in 1963. It is revealed by the Doctor himself, who makes a guest appearance in the first episode, that Coal Hill is located in a place where cracks in time and space open and close at will. This means that the school is host to extra-terrestrial beings, both harmless and violent. The series deals with a group of students and their teacher who together, fight off any aliens who slip through these cracks in the universe.
Young adult fiction writer Patrick Ness is the creator of the new show and has said that Class is much like the American hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both shows are about teen drama, relationships and real-life issues as well as the threat of monsters at their doorstep. Clearly, Ness has poured a lot of focus into his characters as we are constantly learning more and more about these sixth form students and their lives. As a result, the dialogue is sharp and witty which makes the school-drama parts of the show a great watch.
However, unlike its predecessors, Class seems to fail in naturally linking the worlds of these teenagers to the threats posed by alien life forms materialising in their classrooms. The Sarah Jane Adventures had the benefit of a former companion to the Doctor as the lead character but did well to make the show about all the characters and not just her. Here though, it’s like watching two different shows forced together. Like if Skins & Doctor Who had to share the same hour on a TV channel. We go from a maths class in Central London to a lava-filled planet billions of light-years away without much in-depth preparation or storytelling. It feels rushed, like they were struggling to find something to produce while Doctor Who was away.
Episode 1 was a solid start in fairness but episodes 2 & 4 exemplified the frustrations some people may have with the show. There were flaws in the story which were painfully obvious to see and these mistakes could’ve cut the week’s viewing figures by half. Ram, the not so stereotypical sports guy, was irritating to watch to say the least in episode 2. Episodes 3 and 5 save the series though, with the characters becoming more interesting to watch as well as an overarching plotline emerging.
There are still three episodes left with loose ends and plenty to tie up. Here’s hoping for better down the final straight (and also praying that Christmas comes as soon as possible with Doctor Who wrapped up in a neat bow under a deadly spinning Christmas tree!).
Review by Adam Chowdhury