Some of the older of more enthusiastic Whovians out there might remember Coal Hill School from An Unearthly Child. Most will probably know it better since it was reintroduced in The Day of The Doctor. Coal Hill now forms the basis for the latest Doctor Who spinoff ‘Class’. The first two episodes are currently available on the BBC Three ‘channel’ on the BBC iPlayer.
The premise is relatively simple: Coal Hill is a weak point in time and all sorts of weirdness can slip through ‘tears’. The Doctor stopped by to help the first time around but cannot be around the whole time. His solution? Leave a bunch of kids and an alien terrorist/prisoner to protect the planet instead of calling in U.N.I.T.
For those who ask why the Doctor doesn’t simply fix the hole, there is an answer: he cannot. Time has apparently worn too thin to permanently fix and things will leak through. Fans of Torchwood will probably be flashing back to their Rift.
The cast has an interesting dynamic but not a bad one. Amongst our four teen heroes is
- Charlie – a gay alien who – like the Doctor – is the last of his race,
- Tanya – a Nigerian genius three years ahead in school,
- Ram – an Indian football player with an alien prosthetic leg (thank the Doctor) and
- April – the social outcast who plays violin folk music.
It’s this pleasantly diverse crew that guard their school – and potentially the world – from beings coming through what is currently called ‘the bunghole of time’. Despite having a character-cast more akin to a bad sitcom, the usual flaws – controlling mother, bullying sports star – are being smoothed away under the normal stresses that accompany being part of the Doctor’s world.
Previous spin-offs (such as The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood) have both featured advanced technology and the ability to actually cope with alien menaces. Class has thrust a bunch of teenagers into the mix with no warning or backup. Actually, that’s not entirely true.
Quill is highly trained in the arts of killing. But there is a device in her head which would kill her if she ever used a weapon. Their current level of knowledge to all things alien is their own encounters and an ongoing attempt to hack a U.N.I.T. database.
Where It Stands
At only two episodes in, the gang have not yet performed any rescues themselves. Defeating the Shadow Kin was the Doctor and the dragon in the second episode basically solved itself. That said, the team has shown the guts needed to actually face the monsters head on. There is also no avoiding gore and nudity. Class aims to be a young-adult entry to the Whoniverse and it certainly achieves it.
So far, Class has been a sweet taste of relative normality in the Whoniverse. All of the Doctor’s companions and associates are chosen based on their courage and adaptability. Throw four kids into the midst of such events and the closest that they come to a genius plan is a sturdy baseball bat and legging it. Despite a slightly wibbley-wobbly beginning, Class definitely has potential. Fresh episodes are on Saturday mornings at 10AM on the BBC iPlayer.