Class Was Not The YA Doctor Who Spin-Off We Needed

As the BBC 3 Doctor Who spin-off “Class” made it’s way to Netflix I couldn’t help but think about the Doctor Who spin-off that should have happened.

Class itself was perfectly fine, a series surrounding the sixth form students at Coal Hill sixth form college and their fight against the Shadow Kin, a group of aliens that want to get to the prince hiding out at the school. However it was doctor who adjacent rather than part of the universe in the same way Sarah Jane and Torchwood were a part of Doctor Who’s world before and after that their respective spin-offs. In my opinion that’s why it didn’t work, Class could have retained a lot of the same characters and storylines if it was about a haunted boarding school or magic academy instead of aliens.

Young Adult feels like a natural step for the Doctor Who franchise however as it’s most fervent fans occupy the 13-18 demographic the show itself had to honour them and their love of the show. For me, this left a natural successor…

 

Between 2007-2011 a program called ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ featuring the iconic Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elisabeth Sladen. Accompanying Sarah Jane Smith was her young neighbours,  Rani, Luke and Clyde, oh and K9

The Sarah Jane Adventures bridged together the two worlds of ‘old’ doctor who and new doctor who. Reappearing in David Tennant’s stint in ‘School Reunion’ even watching it as a child it was easy to recognise this was a woman of great importance to the series, she was effortlessly weaved into the tapestry of the new show.

The show itself was suited for its young audience with the younger characters being integral to every 30-minute episode of the five season show. Sarah Jane, the journalist sniffing out alien activity from her London home while presenting a normal face to her neighbours was an ultimately fantastic show

The young character dynamic resembled the Harry Potter trio of the chosen one, the goofy best friend and the smart girl and the show itself regularly integrated itself into the Doctor Who plot.

Of course, The Sarah Jane Adventures ended with the death of Elisabeth Sladen, her death was a great loss to us all but the legacy she left behind, especially in the doctor who community was truly amazing.

Yet in the world of the show, there were three young characters left adrift with knowledge of aliens and no anchor, these felt like the characters we should have witnessed at sixth form or possibly university. As a show that managed to retain an audience through a sixty year time period, it wouldn’t have been too hard to introduce a new audience to these kids.

 

 

 

 

Class: Episode 3 Nightvisiting

A miniseries, especially a BBC miniseries comes with an annoying amount of pressure. Class comes with the Doctor Who pedigree, a novelist head writer and the expectations of it’s built in fanbase.

The BBc 3 show has a lot to live up too, other Doctor Who spin off like Torchwood and Sarah Jane won critical acclaim. Class is the flagship for the BBc’s digital crossover, even if they refuse to give it a proper marketing budget, Class has a lot of expectations.

Essentially, Class could fuck up very easily. But so far I’ve enjoyed it and this episode marked a turning point in the series as the characters felt a little more fleshed out and in a world on intrusive aliens, they were a little more human.

Parts of the episode felt very much like Russell T Davies era Doctor Who, we’re dealing with real problems it just so happens that there’s an alien there as well.

Class has an element of self awareness that grounds the show in reality, but it can only take it so far after all this is a show about aliens and a man in a blue box. I can’t help thinking this show could have worked better if it was introduced in early Rory and Amy/11 era before the show got too story heavy.

The episode primarily revolves Tanya, on the anniversary of her father’s death she still finds herself without closure. We see her parents lives played out in a vaguely UP style montage and the devastating moment her father’s dead body is chartered away after his stroke. And exactly two years later, he appears at the end of her bed.

Meanwhile Charlie and Matt take their relationship to the next level and Matt moves in after his strict parents kick him out for falling in love with a boy. The two contemplate the concept of love, Charlie never really knew it from his parents whom viewed him more as a piece of property than a family member and Corak doesn’t feel like anyone accepts him.

Ram continues too be a little bit of a prick, attempting too contact Tanya on the anniversary of her father’s death because he doesn’t understand the physics homework. But he’s visited by the alien ghost of dead girlfriend, noticeably she doesn’t have the same vine attached to her.He contacts April and the two begin to realise there are twisting vines coming out of everywhere.

Not seeing an alien in the real sense of the word works incredibly well for this episode, instead having them appear in human form with an unsightly twisted vine sticking too them makes the whole thing all the more creepy.

Tanya’s dad isn’t the only alien ghost trying to capture a victim, Ms. Quill’s sister is trying to convince her too come with her. Ms. Quill still remains a standout in the show and even without the ability too use weapons she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

The show ends with a face off and the realisation that the dead may be gone but that doesn’t mean the closure and what you have in the moment is better than wrestling with ghosts.

Class ends with no one else remembering what happened, it’s a very typical Doctor Who technique and it allows our scooby gang to grow closure.

Out of the three episodes so far this one was easily the best, the characters worked and we saw their motivations, it was beautifully shot and leads us too a whole new dynamic. It truly felt like the YA Doctor Who it was billed as and I can’t wait for the next episode.

 

 

Everything we’ve got on the Doctor Who spin-off The Class

Since we have to wait until 2017 for the next season of Doctor Who, BBC 3 is throwing us a bone with their young-adult spin-off The Class.

Coming in October, The Class will be the third Doctor Who spin-off in so many years and is hoping to share in the same level of success garnered by Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Centring around Coal Hill Academy, a place which has been part of Doctor Who universe since it’s first episode in 1963, The Class will follow the lives of sixth formers and teachers at Coal Hill Academy as they try to handle the stresses of their academic and social lives while facing the horror of time travel.

The eight episode series is set to make stars out of it’s cast of stars including Mr Selfridge star Greg Austin and newcomer Vivan Orparah. And it will have some familiar faces such as Nigel Betts who played Mr Armitage in the eighth series of Doctor Who reprise his role and maybe a guest star role from Mr Capaldi himself.

Not much is known about the plot of the show at this moment, but we know that after the Doctor’s frequent visit to the school (now an academy thanks Cameron) the walls of time and space have been stretched very thin  around the school meaning monsters from all over the universe will have access to our world….

No official start date right now will most likely be online, an interesting move by the BBC whether it will pay off we will have to wait and see