We may not have a full series of Doctor Who this year but the Doctor’s presence is very definitely felt in the first episode of this new spin-off, which both fulfils BBC Three’s remit of appealing to the YA audience, and has plenty for those who enjoy sidespins from the parent show. Yes, Capaldi is in it – the trailers have made that very clear – and he’s interacting with the principal cast, but it’s a tribute to Patrick Ness’s writing, and the characters that he’s created that you’re completely drawn into their world without him being there.
Unlike Torchwood, which seemed to feel it had to demonstrate it was “adult” in its first episode by doing all the things that couldn’t be done on the parent show, this is adult in terms of the themes that it deals with. Although understandably much of this opener is concerned with introducing us to the leads and the rather unusual set-up at Coal Hill Academy, we definitely get a sense of the tone. Ness is an experienced YA writer and it shows as much in what is left unsaid.
As the BBC has made very clear, Class isn’t a show for kids though – as has been pointed out, blood has returned to the Doctor Who universe (and there’s a few swearwords, but go into any primary school playground and you’ll hear similar!). There’s already quite a debate going on as to whether it’s appropriate for the family-friendly character of the Doctor to be in this – and I do wonder if we’re going to end up going down the same route as Torchwood did with series 2, with a PG or 12 version being made available – but the throwforward suggests that things may have been held back slightly for this episode!
The review of episode 2 (which will be posted on Saturday once people have had a chance to watch the opening pair after their 10 a.m. launch) will discuss the spoilery elements of this episode in more detail – but for now, suffice it to say that this feels like a strong addition to the Doctor Who universe.
Verdict: Humour, drama, action, emotional development – all the elements of a good YA book remixed into the Doctor Who universe with some style. 8/10