Class is the latest entry into the Doctor Who extended universe. It joins such as Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and K9 & Company in the ever growing list of Who spinoffs.
The premise is simple enough (in terms of Doctor Who anyway) four students, from the Coal Hill Academy, battle aliens who slip through cracks in time. One of the students is an alien prince who is protected by his bodyguard / slave both of whom are the last of their species.
Being a download only, BBC 3 production aimed at the youth market; I was worried I might find Class not to my taste. Despite the initial fears I was more than pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the series.
The underpinning story lines were gripping enough to keep me watch each week. I thought the mysterious governors were a great, as well as giving us a nice cameo from a much loved villain in the final scene of the series. The Shadow Kin were menacing and a great new entry to the universe of Doctor Who monsters. I couple of the sub-plots did feel underdeveloped. April’s relationship with her father was gone as quickly as it was introduced and her mother regaining the use of her legs just didn’t work.
Each weeks episodes also worked well as standalone stories. The one exception for me would be Detained. This might be a little unfair as, its only crime was it kept reminding me of the David Tennant era Doctor Who episode Midnight. I found the comparison distracting and I couldn’t settle into the episode.
The young cast handled the material well. Notable for me was new comer Vivian Operah who portrayed the youngest of the group, Tanya Adeola, perfectly. The only criticism was occasionally their performances seemed closer to Hollyoaks than what most viewers would expect in a sci-fi drama. It did bring back uncomfortable memories of a time when Doctor Who almost became the Amy & Rory Show. Also Con O’Neill as April’s farther Huw was awful. Let’s hope he does as his daughter requested and stays away.
Thankfully, despite Class’s target audience being aged between five and ten when the Doctor Who returned in 2005, there was enough references to keep even the oldest Whovian happy. This also, of course, included a cameo from the Doctor himself; not even Torchwood managed that.
So overall an enjoyable if slightly flawed first series. I hope the show gets a second series as there is a massive scope to expand the characters and even have them cross over to cameo in Doctor Who. Unfortunately the BBC has said ratings are not what they had hoped for. Class achieved just over half of the expected weekly downloads and has not increased its audience share over the weeks. There is still hope. Class has been popular overseas and the BBC hopes to increase the shows popularity in the UK when it repeats on BBC One.
So if you haven’ already, give Class a try.