Class Act?



Class is clearly a Dr. Who spin-off. It takes place at the Coal Hill Academy, which first appeared in the premier episode of the series, and was revived as the place where Jenna Coleman’s companion Clara Oswald worked. The current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, makes an appearance in the first episode. The last episode of the season features a much-loved Dr. Who villain (more about that in a bit). However, this series may be more Torchwood than Sarah Jane Chronicles, and that may be the reason for the show’s rumoured cancellation.

I must admit that I enjoyed the show, and, if the rumours prove true, I will miss it, not least because the final of its eight episode run introduced some gnarly cliffhangers.

I found the characters in Class and their conflicts to be engaging. Charlie, the last survivor of an alien race, has a box that contains the souls of his people which doubles as a weapon, but if he uses it, they will die. Miss Quill is also the last survivor of her race, which died out in battle with Charlie’s race; although a warrior, she has to do what he tells her because a creature implanted in her head will kill her if she doesn’t. Due to the machinations of the first episode, optimistic April and the evil Shadow King end up sharing a heart, which causes all manner of trouble for them (and results in the show’s funniest scene).

The original aliens in the series are interesting. The realm of the Shadow King is well-developed, with a fascinating explanation for the Shadowkind’s villainy. The dragon that lived in a tattoo was…different. The flowers that lived off people’s blood and multiplied at a frightening rate were truly frightening (the horror out of innocence trope never gets old).

For me, the best episodes were the ones that focus mostly on the characters. In episode six, for instance, the five school children are trapped in a classroom with a rock that demands that they tell the truth. As they take turns, their truths alienate other members of the group; it’s an interesting exploration of the question of just how much we should share with those who are close to us. My favourite episode, the one that really sold the series for me, was episode seven, in which Miss Quill goes to metaphysical spaces built out of the imaginings of entire races in an effort to get the creature out of her head so that she can have her free will restored to her. I love concepts like that, and the spaces, not to mention the device that got her to them, was well conceived.

Why are Class’ ratings so dismal, leading to the aforementioned rumours of its demise? I think the show has an identity crisis, not knowing exactly what audience it is aimed at. The series contains scenes of sexuality (gay and straight) and pretty graphic violence; this may not alienate teens, but it certainly would lead a lot of parents to not allowing their teens to watch it. On the other hand, the romances and other travails of being a teen might not appeal to a lot of adults.

More generally, the show took some time to develop; negative word of mouth after the first episode or two may have turned potential viewers off the show before it started sparking brilliant moments.

I do hope the BBC will plow on with a second season despite this. I, for one, want to know how April will fare in the body of the Shadow King (and you thought you had trouble making friends in school!) and whether Quill’s child will eat her, as is the custom with her people.


So, in the last episode of Class, it is revealed that The Governors, the mysterious group that appears to run the school and knows far more about the characters than any ordinary school board would, was waiting for something or someone to appear. In their inner sanctuary, we find that they are allied with… dun duh duh! – weeping angels. Which is cool, as far as it goes; the weeping angels are a great Dr. Who villain. But…one of them kills the Headmistress.

No, no, no, no, no!

One of the greatest things about the weeping angels was that they were not mindless killing machines. The Whoverse has more than enough of them! The angels originally displaced people in time in order to feed off the energy that was created in the process. Turning them into killing machines diminishes their originality. (And, to be honest, I’m not sure how that even works, given that the Headmistress’ body did not seem harmed in any meaningful way.)

Can we please, please, please, please, please return the weeping angels to their original glory?

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