Having been a “Doctor Who” fan since the Jon Pertwee days (Doctor #3), having seen both Bakers (Tom and Colin) at two “Doctor Who” Conventions, as well as John Leeson (the voice of K-9) at a third, I feel that I have a good investment in what is being referred to as the “Doctor Who Universe”. “Class” is the latest in that pantheon, that includes not only “Doctor Who,” but also “K-9 and Company” and the “Sarah Jane Adventures.”
“Class” takes place at Coal Hill Academy, a school in London that once was Coal Hill School. Coal Hill School is where Ian and Barbara taught a little girl named Susan who had an odd grandfather that had a time machine.
This is the setting for “An Unearthly Child”, the very first “Doctor Who” episode.
So, what was once a grade school is now a high school with adolescents.
The students are not your normal Breakfast Club types. You have Tanya, who is a science genius, younger than everyone; Ram, the soccer prodigy and hothead; April, the nice girl; and Matteusz, the foreign student.
The last of the students, Charlie, is an alien prince and his bodyguard, Miss Quill, both enemies to begin with, that are joined telepathically by a creature implanted in Quill’s head as punishment. The people on their planet were killed by creatures known as Shadow Kin, who are now stalking them on Earth. It seems that these two, the last living on the planet were rescued by the Doctor and taken to Coal Hill Academy, where they were enrolled.
Katherine Kelly, who spent six years on “Coronation Street”, is Miss Quill, who brings a great deal of sarcasm and anger to the role, sometimes to the point of being nasty. Dialog like “Look at you all. High achievers. The cream of the crop. No wonder this country only exports Downton Abbey,” is part of her character.
She appears to be given all the good lines.
The show takes other trips down memory lane. Being chased by mysterious shadows, Tanya runs into a chemist’s, where there is an old lady customer, played by Laura June Hudson. Research found that she was the costume designer on “Doctor Who” during the Tom Baker years. Add to it other “Doctor Who” alums like Aaron Neil, a Capaldi actor, and Nigel Betts, who plays Mr. Armitage here as he played in several Peter Capaldi “Doctor Who” episodes.
During the prom, all hell breaks loose as the Shadow Kin attack. The girlfriend of the soccer prodigy is killed. Her boyfriend goes toe-to-toe with their leader, and loses his leg from the knee down as a result.
But what have they come for?
The Prince (Bonnie Prince Charlie) is carrying with him the Cabinet of Souls, which carries the souls of everyone slaughtered on the planet. The Shadow Kin know that it is a fearsome weapon that could be used to destroy them.
Then, the Doctor shows up and makes a joke about Ikea regarding the cabinet. But Charlie says that the cabinet is empty. That it is just a story to give the people of his world some comfort about death. The Shadow Kin are unconvinced, but the lights get turned on them and they are sent back through the portal that brought them to the Academy. The creatures are turned away, but claim that they will return.
The Doctor seals the portal the best he can to try to keep the Shadow Kin and others out, but warns the group that Space and Time are thin at Coal Hill Academy and will not keep out those looking to create mischief for the world.
One of the better moments is when the Doctor sees the Faculty Roll of Honor and sees the name “OSWALD, C”. He pauses, trying to remember something, then continues.
At the end of the episode, we see inside the Cabinet to find it is, in fact, full.
Honestly, there is really little that stands out about this show. In some ways, it is an older retread of “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, which was far superior, even though it was geared toward a younger audience. If it hadn’t been for the appearance of Peter Capaldi, the episode would be much less interesting.
The novelty of setting it in a school from the start of “Doctor Who” and using varied alumni from the show is just a gimmick that honestly only works if you are an extreme Whovian (I had to look at Imdb to make the references that I did earlier in the article). It doesn’t help that “Doctor Who” fans are accustomed to Steve Moffat’s writing style; which is the standard for storylines in the “Whoniverse.” He has little to do with the show. The writing shows this.
The season is a mere eight episodes long and has already finished to lukewarm reviews in Britain. Moreover, there is skepticism that the show will be renewed. If you are interested in the show, I suggest that you watch it while you can.