Let’s be honest – would we have stuck by the haphazard Class if it weren’t a spinoff of Doctor Who? Categorically NO.
Class’ debut run was an uneven and, mostly, badly written and executed show – a weird hybrid of Doctor Who and Skins that largely didn’t work. The main threat – the Shadow Kin, which were clearly meant to be Class’ version of the Daleks – felt more like a gimmick from The Sarah Jane Adventures, especially when they were ‘humanised’ by two members engaging in sex and later cuddling. It reduced whatever threat they may have ever possessed.
Class dealt with some big themes in a sensitive way – sexuality, death, abuse, religion – but all of these poignant moments were lost when the threat arose. Perhaps the two best episodes – ‘Nightvisiting’ and ‘Detained’ – saw away with the threat to produce some truly great character moments. The former, in which Tanya saw her deceased father, was tear-inducing, and Vivian Oprah was sensational. It’s a shame that she had absolutely nothing else to do for most of the run. The later, meanwhile, allowed each of the five students to showcase their acting ability as each character was afforded their own moment to dazzle. For these two episodes alone, it was worth enduring cringeworthy alien sex.
I liked that Charlie’s sexuality was never an issue – he just happened to be going to the prom with Matteusz. I also liked Ram’s rather brilliant explanation of his Sikhism whilst journeying across an alien world. The best science fiction uses aliens and fantastical technology as a backdrop whilst exploring very human themes. For that alone, Class should be applauded.
But, three months down the line, will anybody even remember the Shadow Kin? Or the Leaf Dragons? Simply put: the aliens in Class were dire. Even Doctor Who’s filler episodes utilise better threats.
The killer petals of the ‘Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart’ and ‘Brave-ish Heart’ two-parter were a formidable threat with a simple modus operandi that were seemingly impossible to kill. This would have been a perfect way to cross Class over with Doctor Who – the petals could have been an evolutionary step up from the Krynoid from the classic serial ‘The Seeds of Doom’. But, alas, they were lost amongst the trivialities of the Shadow Kin, which was a huge shame.
I’ve already talked about how great most of the cast were, so I won’t repeat myself. I will say this though: Miss Quill showed terrible character growth. She was essentially a plot device for the entire run – think Clara from the seventh series of Doctor Who. Miss Quill was a walking gag and, frankly, Katherine Kelly was terrible, which is a shame because she CAN act. I was hoping for a grand reversal of her motives in the final, in which she came to realise how much she enjoys her new life. If she had died, it wouldn’t have been any great loss.
Perhaps the biggest flaw with Class was that it didn’t utilise its crossover potential with Doctor Who. Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures both worked well because we were already invested in the world and the characters. We all jumped for joy when Martha Jones popped up in Torchwood’s second run, and who didn’t grin every time the Slitheen returned on The Sarah Jane Adventures?
Aside from the Doctor appearing in the first episode, Class failed to remember that it was a spinoff of Doctor Who. Mr Armitage was offed in the second episode – a glaring shame! – and then there was nary a mention of the Doctor ever again. It made it hard to invest in this world, unfortunately. Even when the Weeping Angels popped up in the final, ‘The Lost’, I had to suppress a yawn. The Angels have been done to death! And, frankly, it appears as though writer Patrick Ness is trying to change canon. The Angels have never – NEVER! – killed someone like how Dorothea Ames was killed. The only close example is Angel Bob, from the two-parter in series 5 of Doctor Who, but he was killed and used by the Angels, whereas here Dorothea was simply killed. The Angels feed on the potential of the life that will never be lived when their victims are sent into the past. For me, this scene felt like retconning at its worst.
So, will Class get a second series? Probably not. And it won’t be missed at all. I admit, I am intrigued by the Governors, who appear to possess some form of Time Lord technology – suppressing a large room inside of a smaller one, the metaphysical engine – but that’s about my only desire from a follow up to Class. A throwaway line in a future episode of Doctor Who would serve as enough closure for me. Class would have worked had the concept and characters been introduced in Doctor Who earlier. Ultimately, this show failed badly.