So, when I looked up Class, a very short-lived Doctor Who spin-off, I figured it probably just wasn’t very good and that’s why it only ran for eight episodes.
Turns out that may not be the case.
Class is set at Coal Hill Academy, a semi-frequent setting for Doctor Who adventures. Susan Foreman, one of the original companions and the Doctor’s granddaughter, was a student there. Any time the series wanted to more or less acknowledge the show’s roots without actually doing a big anniversary special, the TARDIS would come to a stop nearby and possibly reference other locations from the very first episode. Most recently, Twelfth Doctor companion Clara Oswald was an English teacher there, and the Twelfth Doctor, making a quick cameo in this pilot episode, not only pauses when he sees her name amongst the faculty, but he mentions how he had for a period been the school’s caretaker. So, really, it’s not just some random school.
And if I wanted to try and patch it in about the point it should appear in the Doctor Who timeline, I suspect I would have had to have waited a while. However, it is currently on the Tubi free streaming service–meaning it has random commercial breaks throughout the program–and I have no idea how long it’s going to be there, so I figured I better get to it sooner rather than later.
Plus, anything that delays me from having to choose a different show for the noon time slot here is A-OK in my book!
Regardless, there’s the situation: a quartet of students and one teacher at Coal Hill are sucked into alien weirdness, charged by the Doctor to keep an eye on things after he has observed how they handled the first adventure. I don’t think I’ll be seeing the Doctor again, but here we are.
Regardless, the group is made up of
- Charlie Smith, an odd kid who doesn’t seem to understand much of anything pop-culture related, but that’s because he’s an alien prince and the last of his kind.
- April MacLean, a social outcast with a big heart and that’s the least of her problems.
- Ram Singh, a football/soccer star who is the closest to a popular kid in the group.
- Tanya Adeola, a prodigy that skipped a few years and the daughter of a strict Nigerian single mother.
- Miss Andrea Quill, a teacher who seems to hate all of her students, but she is another alien and the last of her kind, tethered to Charlie because her people tried to take out his and the punishment was to make them bodyguards. She cannot use a weapon herself as a result and must always protect Charlie, despite the fact she hates him and considers her punishment slavery.
There’s also class clown Matteusz, but he seems to be Charlie’s love interest, and even though he seems to know everything that happened in the pilot, he does not seem to be part of the main group.
Anyway, from what I learned, the series did get a lot of critical acclaim. The show just never really attracted much of an audience. I can possibly see why. It doesn’t really fit in too well. Just judging by this first episode, it is a bit too mature compared to, say, The Sarah Jane Adventures or even Doctor Who, but it is nowhere near as mature as Torchwood in its prime. It’s too violent to be kid-friendly, but not intense enough for adults.
As for the plot here: the alien Shadow Kin are coming to Earth after wiping out Charlie and Quill’s respective species. Quill has a gun that is the only weapon that can kill a Shadow Kin, but she can’t use any weapons. The gun also kills the shooter by displacing both the shooter and the target at the same time, but Quill left that part out when she got a boy in the cold open to use it. Shadow Kin often appear as living shadows except when they get somewhat solid enough to kill someone with a bladed weapon that reduces the target to ash, as the Shadow Kin’s king did to Charlie’s mother. The Kin say they want a superweapon which is not Quill’s gun but something called the Cabinet of Souls, an artefact Charlie claims is a fairy tale but of course he has back in his flat. To get it, the Shadow Kin threaten Tanya at home (Ram watching over a computer), and all of the human kids see shadows moving independently of themselves. The Kin end up attacking a school dance, killing Ram’s girlfriend, and Ram lost a leg when he tackled the one that did it. April was going to use the gun when Charlie deflected her aim, forcing her to share a heart with the Shadow King. And then the Doctor showed up as a lot of lights forced the Shadow Kin back to their home dimension. He gave Ram a new leg, told the kids that the fissure in space will lead to more alien attacks that they’d better watch out for, and charged Quill to watch them. She objects, and the Doctor reminds her she killed that boy in the cold open.
So, not a bad premise. The plot moved well, the characters are largely well-established, and Quill will make for a nice antagonistic ally. Sure, there are only eight episodes, but that’s a start. And I’ll be back to Doctor Who before too long anyway.