Directed by Edward Bazalgette, Philippa Langdale, Wayne Yip, and Julian Holmes
Written by Patrick Ness and Leon Williams
Creator and Show Runner – Patrick Ness
Things are never going to be normal at Coal Hill School. An odd clique quickly forms of Ram, the playboy heartthrob; Tanya, the young genius; April, the studious nerd; Matteusz, the big-hearted, introspective hunk; Charlie, the regal new student who is almost immediately revealed to be an alien prince; and their exceedingly strange and disinterested teacher Miss Quill. What on Earth could bring a disparate group like this together? More importantly, in what universe would they ever remain together?
Only a rift in time and space that just won’t stay closed and let’s the most disruptive things through with which kids that age are not equipped to deal. Right? You’d be surprised what you can do what your life and the lives of others depend on it. Not nearly as astonished as you’d be though, when the T.A.R.D.I.S. reappears (it has been there since at least 1963) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) shows up just in time to save their bacon. According to bodyguard Miss Quill, she had everything under control, but it certainly looked like the Shadow Kin were about to add a new planet to their collection. And wipe out the current inhabitants.
Yep. Just in case you didn’t know far in advance, Class is a spin-off of eight episodes from the Dr. Who universe. Creator and show runner Patrick Ness is a well-known YA writer and the author CHAOS WALKING (soon to be a major motion picture!). Predictably, the show is aimed at a young adult audience. Of course, some would argue that everything involving the Doctor has been firmly anchored in that age group, no matter how vehemently adult males argue the opposite viewpoint. If I’m not honest with you, who will be?
Class is definitely a fun watch, with some added elements that should keep viewers coming back for more, even if they’ve never heard of Coal Hill School before this show premiered. The characters flesh out nicely. (Kind of sorry I used “flesh,” come to think of it. Ew. You’ll see.) No one is exactly what they appear to others. Privilege has its price. Brilliance is most often accompanied by loneliness. Actually, so is popularity. Or staying out of trouble. Or being different. And that, in the end, is what they all have in common: something about each of them makes them just different enough to be lonely. They just have to realise it and be willing to admit it. Fortunately, nothing brings people together faster than having to kill truly bizarre aliens.
A segment of the show that is bound to cause a spot of bother as more and more people watch it is the relationship between Charlie and Mateusz. It is nicely introduced by Charlie saying he is going to ask Mateusz to the prom. As simple as that and as sweet as any teenager getting up the nerve to ask someone out, knowing they might get shot down. Fortunately for the audience, Mateusz accepts and so begins one of the most endearing and natural love stories I’ve encountered on stage or screen, and here it is on the small screen. Ness’ brilliance is in shining no more spotlight on this connection than any of the other close ones on Class. It’s there. It exists. Okay. Next scene. No need for future cult wife and Dust Bowl model Kim Davis to lose her shit over anything. As heartbreakingly sweet to observe as any young love — earning a golden Keebe to Jordan Renzo as Mateusz, a standout in an impressive ensemble.
Of course, this is the BBC; how this would play in the U.S.A. we probably already know. Especially post-Obama…
But, these are all the elements that make Class so addictive, even for those of us who are not Who-vians. It offer more than slimey things and attractive teens. This is a new world, still attached to the worlds and time everywhere, but moving steadily forwards. The characters grow before us in a real way that is nothing like the Adult-In-An-Instant snap that undercuts the believability in most coming-of-age stories. There is always one step back for every two steps forward and one startled leap to the side as some flaming wreckage goes flying past you. Now, that’s believable!
One more thing: You watch the last episode and tell me there won’t be at least one more series of Class. About as likely as Daleks on escalators…the original ones, that is.
If you need a primer to bring yourself up-to-date on Coal Hill School’s place in the history the Dr. Who saga, here is a wonderful article: https://voiceoftv.com/how-coal-hill-school-is-important-to-doctor-who-and-how-the-spin-off-class-came-to-be