Class is the new TV series that is a spinoff from Doctor Who (BBC). It’s set in Coal Hill School (now Coal Hill Academy). The same school that Doctor Who has been long involved with since its inception back in 1963. Right through until Clara Oswald taught there as a teacher briefly in the most recent episodes.
The episode begins with a fairly typical Doctor Who hook, with dark halls, a big bad glowy guy, and some screaming. Enter the new cast one by one as we get introduced to both them and their particular idiosyncrasies. Top marks for the Bechedel Test joke right at the start. In fact, there is a fair amount of humour smattered within the entire episode. From smart quips to facial expressions, the humour is one thing that pleasantly surprises.
The pacing of the episode is fairly smooth, with some choppy bits, which is only natural as a new series heads out on a maiden voyage. This voyage involves a TARDIS. Quite literally. It was pleasant to see the Doctor and his blue box appear at a crucial moment, and assist in solving the immediate problem. He’s also the one who basically tells them they are now a team to protect the school, as the bad guys created a ‘beacon’.
It’s almost identical in concept to Torchwood with the rift in Time/Space in Cardiff. There was actually a very familiar feel to the episode. It had a lot of similarities to Torchwood, such as pacing, music, mood and lighting. However, unlike other Doctor Who spinoffs, there are no characters from that show in the regular cast like John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, or Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah-Jane Smith in the Sarah Jane Adventures. Instead, the Doctor himself, played by Peter Capaldi, made an appearance to tie in the storyline to the Doctor Whoniverse.
Class has no problem tackling controversial issues. Homosexuality, teen bullying, family problems, how death affects us, friendship, and even different religions are touched on lightly in this episode. We can see a true friendship growing between several of the crew, and it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
The new cast members provide an interesting cross section, and include aliens on the run from another world. It seems to be very well rounded with no one character taking the lead role at this point. Several newcomers make their debut, including Sophie Hopkins as the alone April; Fady Elsayed, the confident Ram; and Vivian Oparah as the brainy Tanya. Rounding out the team is Katherine Kelly as the truly scary teacher Ms Quill, and Greg Austin as the well-spoken Charlie. Jordan Renzo also appears part of the team as eastern European Matteusz, however his part in the pilot was quite small.
I look forward to the next adventure with these truly reluctant heroes. It should be quite a ride.