‘Class’ Review: For Tonight We Might Die
One episode in and Class has already secured its status as its very own beast to be reckoned with – but it’s the beast that the Doctor Who franchise has been waiting for.
Believe it or not, but it was just over a year ago that the BBC announced that Patrick Ness had signed up to helm his very own Doctor Who spin off, and now the new term – and, as such, a new era – is finally about to begin. And oh, what a shining new era it looks set to be! If the premiere episode is anything to go by, we really are in for a treat…
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 12 months, here’s the premise of Class in a nutshell. Set at the pre-established Coal Hill School, which has been given a swanky revamp to become the prestigious Academy since its last on screen appearance over in the main show, the series follows the day to day lives of a dynamic group of sixth formers as they battle their way through the trials and tribulations of puberty and exams. Oh, and the odd extra terrestrial excursion, of course. You know, all the usual stuff.
The stars of the show – that’s Greg Austin as Charlie, Sophie Hopkins as April, Fady Elsayed as Ram and Vivian Oparah as Tanya – are instantly watchable, relatable and likeable, all of which were vital ingredients in establishing their authority as the Whoniverse’s next generation of honourable heroes. There’s a lot to get through in the opening episode but not one member of the ensemble feels wasted or unnecessary – they are each there to add something special and unique to the overriding and developing story arcs (of which there are many) and the narrative offers the right amount of insight into their personal demons to keep us intrigued enough to find out more, whilst reassuring us that these valiant teens definitely deserve our blessing. A special mention goes out to Sophie Hopkins as April, who gets way more – like, way, way more – than she bargained for when a night of prom preparations turns into a literal fight to the death. It escalates really quickly. Oh, and we take our hat off to Fady Elsayed, too, who loses two things very dear to him in the space of 5 minutes. Don’t worry, though. He gets one of them back.
Speaking of the prom, it’s the circumstances surrounding the gang’s unlikely but inevitable alliance that ultimately makes this episode such an enjoyable – if completely bonkers – ride. The party setting is the perfect backdrop for the events that escalate within the confines of the school corridors, which are being haunted by sinister shadows. A student has gone missing and we won’t say anything more about that, but suffice to say that the brilliant backstory and its accompany adversary – the terrifying Shadow Kin – is so rich, powerful and well crafted that it could warrant a spin off of its very own…
…which brings us to Katherine Kelly as the devilishly decadent Miss Quill. We recommend that you try to go into the episode with as little knowledge about her cryptic character as possible, as the reveal of her identity is definitely worth the surprise. What’s more exciting is where she’ll go next, as a vengeful villainess who, not through choice, is having to adjust to a life that uses words instead of weapons. Katherine is effortlessly fantastic and relishes every ounce of the role, which is one that will undoubtedly put her in good stead to go down as one of the most formidable female foes that this genre has ever seen. Watch this space, folks.
So, what genre is Class, exactly? Well, we know that it’s Young Adult and anybody familiar with Patrick Ness’ previous works won’t take long to feel at home in terms of its style and pacing. What’s particularly noteworthy, however, is that Patrick has managed to make it accessible for all. His snappy dialogue and one liners bring the story to life and it’s already clear that he’s created something that’s exactly like Doctor Who in every way… apart from the fact that it’s completely different. The timely appearance from Peter Capaldi as the Doctor himself only serves to remind us that it’s all part of the same mythology, however his guest spot – while appreciated – is fleeting and the episode would’ve worked just as well without it.
The premiere episode of Class shines a new light on a world that is already familiar to us, whilst planting the seeds for the stories and drama to come. It all kicks off with an awesome pre-titles sequence that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Buffy (that’s not us complaining), and the theme tune totally rocks. Basically, we’ve never been so excited to go to school.
The first two episodes premiere on BBC Three at 10am on Saturday 22nd October.