I won’t be reviewing every episode of Class, because I thought it would only be fair to put as much effort into that as the makers have done in tailoring a Who spin off for Who fans. Which they haven’t.
It’s painfully obvious that this was a random, generic, Buffy-rip off YA piece of nonsense that someone decided to superimpose the much better Doctor Who over the top of in order to give it life, but all it’s actually done is prove how poor an idea and derivative concept it is, and how much nonsense having Doctor Who off for a year was. The money spent on this vanilla cone would have been much better spent on, say, a Paul McGann Who miniseries (even for BBC3!) or something of that sort, but no, the bastard child of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures sits in the middle, so terrified not to offend, so desperate to attract this YA audience and so keen to prove it’s all adult and hip and that, that it’s pretty much unwatchable for old school Who fans who’ll find nothing of their beloved programme within its ever-so PC remit. I’m betting there actually is a workshop on Diversity somewhere in the BBC and the folks at Class have had that rammed down their throats mercilessly. They have a cast Russell T Davies used to satire, a gratuitous and pointless gay scene, the geek, the genius, the Asian guy and the lack of humour is painful to watch. To prove it’s “older” than Who (which it isn’t) it throws buckets of blood at its victims – in episode one a pointless Vasta Nerada/Pyrovile hybrid who just kind of fizzles out and goes away and in episode two a badly animated talking dragon (yeah, a talking dragon) – but this is done with no style or substance. Even King of Nasty Horror, Rob Zombie, talks of “less is more” when it comes to gore, but there’s no subtly in Class, blasting the cast with gallons of red sugar syrup in the vein of Ash Vs The Evil Dead. The difference here is that Ash is a satire and knows it, and Class has no idea what it is.
Actually, that’s not true, it does know what it is. It’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer with glow-on-the-inside monsters. Heroine? Check. Geeky sidekick? Check. Cool person who doesn’t want involved? Check. Adult who is more than meets the eye? Check. Demonic portal to a blah blah don’t think about it too much realm? Yup, that too. There’s even deaths in episode one that have the famous vampire “dusting” effect. Then a gallon of blood thrown at it. They even bring up Buffy and the Hellmouth, although by episode two they’ve gone with the “we’re so cool we’re blase about it” “butthole”. Really.
Cast wise, well, the main cast are ok. They do what they’re meant to and on the whole do it well. Bottom of that list is veteran Katherine Kelly who falls into the trap of a lot of actors do thinking this kind of stuff is pantomime and gurns and pouts her way melodramatically through her performance, not reaching for a the subtle bus once. Although perhaps she’s just treating it with the contempt it deserves. Best and stand out is Fady Elsayed as Ram who at least is showing some character development, and will be the break out star, despite also looking about ten years older than everyone else, which unfortunately doesn’t help the odd and potentially inappropriate relationship with him and Vivian Oparah’s 14 year old Tanya.
With the exception of Fady though there’s no growth or consequences, despite multiple deaths and one of the main characters randomly sharing the heart of a bad guy. Don’t ask. The rest of the school – a much, much different Coal Hill ACADEMY (which at least is referenced, as is, awkwardly, Clara) – is basically inhabited by moving wallpaper. There’s no detail in any of it, even though the “prom” (which is odd because I’m pretty sure the series isn’t set at the end of the school year) is full of monsters and murders. It’s this lack of detail which helps to show how inferior it is to the shows it’s derived from, especially Buffy which spent a whole year getting to that particular event more than once.
No more so is this evident at the end of episode one when Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor makes an entrance, sorts it all out, points out continuity errors and gives the series its mission. He’s clearly in second gear, but wipes the floor with everyone else effortlessly and proves again that all this money should have been spent on him instead.
Class is a pointless show with neither the hook of Captain Jack, Sarah Jane or K9. It’s threads to Who are frayed at the very beginning, and its characters are universally bland. I just can’t see the point of it. It makes no attempt to be like Doctor Who, or to have that show at his heart, and instead desperately begs for the YA audience. A genre in itself that is, judging by movies like Maze Runner, The 5th Wave or the latest Hunger Games has just about run its course. It’s embarrassingly “trendy” too, with everyone on Skype or face-time like some American teen movie (in Britain a four way Skype call should basically be people sitting around being disconnected or buffering!), talking about The Monster of the Week. That one was a talking dragon. That’s not getting old any time soon. It even managed to kill a Polish cleaner who used to be a banker because IT’S SO MODERN!
It’s actually a little offensive that the makers thought ignoring the core Who fan demographic in this way was a good idea, never mind offering up this drip of water as its substitute, but well, there’s nothing new with that.
Watch the one’s Peter is in, because, like it or not, it’s canon.