10 years on from the launch of Torchwood, the BBC have instead launched a new spin-off Class!
Being a teenager’s a tough time. You’re flooded with emotions, often conflicting ones, and you’re not really sure what to make of anything.
But before we go into the show lets look at Coal Hill’s history. Remember this is the place where we first met Susan the Doctor’s granddaughter, and for two teachers of Coal Hill life would never be the same again. Over the years the school continued to pop up in Who. The Daleks battled the 7th Doctor for the Hand Of Omega, companion Clara Oswald was a teacher here and who could forget the 12th Doctor was the caretaker.
Unlike previous spin offs this one is one of the best. When it’s neither too graphic nor too fantastical, Class finds a wonderful middle ground in which its simultaneously funny, heartfelt, spooky and vibrant – yes, like Buffy – and happily episode two, with nary a TARDIS in sight, is a lot less mad and a lot more consistent. Think more of an adult version of the Sarah Jane Adventures, unlike Torchwood you can actually relate to these people.
It’s easy to get swept up in the madness, thanks chiefly to spirited performance from the four young leads. Ness’s script zips all over the place, demanding a huge emotional range from Greg Austin (Charlie), Sophie Hopkins (April), Fady Elsayed (Ram) and Vivian Oparah (Tanya) and these kids knock it out of the park, nailing every single beat.
(So far, their reluctant mentor Miss Quill is a lot more one-note, and while her persistent crankiness and snark make for some good gags – “We are DECORATING!” – it also rather limits Katherine Kelly’s performance. Here’s hoping she’ll get the chance to show a few more shades to the character in future episodes.)
Katherine Kelly’s icy educator comes across as the most memorable, with a more commanding performance from the off, even if a couple of lines misfires. It’s probably not unfair to say there’s a bit of a 12th Doctor vibe about the character, and maybe even a dash of Sherlock in one key scene. Though she’s not nearly as likable yet. Think early Capaldi.
Episode one also brought us our first appearance of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, which is a great decision. Unlike previous spin offs who left a Doctor cameo to a lot later in the run to, to allow the show to build legs. Bringing him in at the beginning sets the tone for the show brilliantly, and doesn’t take the light away from the new cast. The show can move forward without the Doctor, but lets face it we’d all like to see more of the Doctor.
When it’s neither too graphic nor too fantastical, Class finds a wonderful middle ground in which it’s simultaneously funny, heartfelt, spooky and vibrant – yes, like Buffy – and happily episode two, with nary a TARDIS in sight, is a lot less mad and a lot more consistent. Right now, Class is a bit like a hormonal teen – all over the place, with quite literal mood swings. But also like a teen, it’s finding itself. The biggest takeaway from these two episodes is that we could be in for something really quite special here, once it gets over the growing pains.
After watching 3 episodes now I’m delighted with the gay storyline featuring main character Charlie and Matteusz. There is a great scene where we see a heartfelt exchange with Matteusz – the pair swapping declarations of love and even moving in together after Matteusz’s homophobic family kick him out onto the street. I’m slightly jealous I’m not the age demographic for this show. To see how this young gay couple start and act would have been something I would have loved to see on TV to give confirmation that the feelings I had were ok and normal. Unlike Captain jack that would fuck anything and I have no consequence you cant help but root for this couple, even though in the world of Doctor Who nothing can stay happy for long.
Where would a Doctor Who spin-off be without the monsters? The first episode brings us the Shadow Kin as the main threat (and seemingly not the last time we’ll see them). As the name might suggest, they’re slowly introduced in several spookier scenes that may remind fans of a certain Vashta Nerada, but their actual form is the typical monster costume we’ve come to expect. The second episode features a more gruesome sounding enemy in the form of a skin-peeling dragon, though its CGI reveal is a little too goofy to be intimidating. It works much more effectively early on out of sight.
Murray Gold is not responsible for the music score, but nevertheless you can expect some familiar musical themes and motifs courtesy of composer Blair Mowat, who does an admirable job instead. Audio drama listeners may recognize Mowat’s name as he more recently worked on the Big Finish’s Torchwood series.
But three episodes in and i’m really impressed, if at the end of the season it remains as a one off season who knows?? But i think we have allot more to come from Coal Hill.