Review: ‘Class’ Teaches Nothing New to Sci-Fi Fans

Doctor Who is a global phenomenon, so it’s no surprise that the BBC commissioned a new spinoff.

Class is about five teenagers who must protect Earth from the dangers coming through the space-time rift at their school.

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Sophie Hopkins as April and Greg Austin as Charlie in BBC America’s Class. Source: bbc.co.uk

If that premise sounds familiar, it’s because viewers have seen it several times in multiple incarnations. The show seems to know it’s not new because the first episode ends with the kids listing off shows like Buffy and Vampire Diaries to make sense of The Doctor’s explanation.

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Katherine Kelly as Miss Quill with guest star Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in Class. Source: bbc.co.uk

Yes, The Doctor shows up. However, don’t get excited Whovians, it’s only for a few minutes at the end of the first episode.

Class is not the first Doctor Who spinoff and it’s not the best either (that title goes to Torchwood, obviously). What shows like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures did so well was stay true to the DNA of Doctor Who while finding their own unique tone.

Unfortunately, Class’ well worn premise prevents it from finding its footing. Every story has a been there done that feel.

The show’s one bright spot can be found in its charming young cast. Unlike other British shows, which can be very white, Class has a very diverse cast of characters from all walks of life. Even better, none of them are stereotypes. Two guys on a date at the prom, not a problem. Black girl is a child prodigy, no big deal. Middle Eastern kid is a soccer star and most popular boy in school, because of course.

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The Cabinet of Souls is Charlie’s (Greg Austin) last connection to his lost people. Source: bbc.co.uk

Lead Greg Austin as Charlie, alien royalty new to Earth, definitely looks like a prince. He also handles the comedy of being new to the quirks of human teenagers. Austin is able to balance those moments with the heartbreak of being the last of his kind.

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Vivian Oparah is genius Tanya and Sophie Hopkins is her only friend April in Class. Source: bbc.co.uk

Vivian Oparah as Tanya is desperate to fit in with her older classmates. She does a great job of portraying the excitement of finally having friends while surrounded by monsters.

While the teenagers get the bulk of the story, the star is really Katherine Kelly as Miss Quill. She’s bonded to Charlie as his protector and hates Earth. Her only goal is revenge on the creatures that destroyed her people.

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Charlie (Greg Austin) and Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly) were enemies on their planet and now live together with the uncomfortable bond of being the only survivors. Source: bbc.co.uk

She’s undercover at Coal Hill as a teacher and she has no time for teenage nonsense. Her lack of empathy and disinterest in developing any provides some of the first episode’s funniest moments.

Overall, Class feels like the BBC version of an average CW show. One of the ones they put on Friday nights to fill out the schedule. It’s only eight episodes, so there’s not a lot of investment required, however, it does not live up to the rest of the Doctor Who universe.

Also happening throughout space and time:

When The Doctor first appears halfway through it’s only in shadows. Music cues hint that it’s David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. He’s mentioned as a creature of legend.

Shadow Kin are scary new monsters that should become a staple of the Whoniverse. Any episode featuring the Shadow Kin will require sleeping with the lights on.

Coal Hill is the school Clara Oswald taught at and The Doctor takes a moment to remember her when he sees her name on a memorial.

Class airs Saturdays at 10 pm ET on BBC America. Right after Doctor Who.

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