I think we can agree that 2016 has pretty much sucked – I feel like Frodo on the side of Mount Doom, unable to remember the taste of strawberries or mainstream politics that weren’t basically fascist – but here, at the end of all things (less than a fortnight before the US presidential election), comes an Eagle: Patrick Ness’s Doctor Who spin-off, Class.
Class takes us to a refurbished Coal Hill Academy, where time has been spread a little thin thanks to the Doctor’s frequent visits, and introduces us to four sixth-formers, Charlie, Ram, Tanya and Avril, and their teacher Miss Quill. It’s not long before galactic malcontents are slipping through the rift in time to cause more disruption than an Ofsted inspection…
To avoid anything even faintly spoilerish, I’m going to steer entirely clear of plot here – except to say the first three stories are all great. What I will say is that the writing is excellent. Geeky lampshading and jokes – check. Playing with audience expectations – check. Characters you’re rooting for after just five minutes – check. Proper LGBT representation – check… Look, basically this is everything I’ve wanted Doctor Who to be for the last few years, okay? (Well, apart from the copious blood-splatter. I’m not a monster.)
The cast are all superb, but especially watchable are Fady Elsayed, who picks out all the subtle layers of Ram Singh, and Vivian Oparah, whose acting has a similar thoughtfulness and intensity to Sophie Okenado’s.
Funny, scary and smart – this really is a class act. Head over to BBC Three and watch the first three episodes now.
Posted by Jo the Hat
Filed under Dr Who, Drama
Apologies for covering five episodes in one go (and being so late getting to the first four – real life has been getting in the way of the important business of TV watching/reviewing recently). Let us take a leaf out of the Doctor’s book and ignore anything inconvenient while rushing towards the action…
I understand the desire to have more two-part stories, I do. Sometimes a story really needs more than 45 minutes (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances being a particularly strong example in new Who) – but this Zygon story is not one of them. Next week’s conclusion could be an absolute zinger, but there’s no getting away from this half being much more filler than thriller.
[Spoilers below the line…]
Back in 2011, Matthew Graham or Ashley Pharaoh (co-creators/writers of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes) was kind enough to give me some advice on writing a TV review. In a nutshell, it was ‘judge the work on its aims and ambitions rather than on what you want it to achieve’. This seems an excellent time to hold myself to this higher standard…
I doubt I’m the only one welcoming Jamie Mathieson back to the DW writer’s room this series. His episodes last year stood head and shoulders above everybody else’s and he’s showing no signs of slacking here either. Thankfully The Girl Who Died is a lot better than last week’s trailer would have had you believe and has the Doctor at his best (i.e. doing something clever and making everything alright – or, if you’re a Cabin Pressure fan, finding his inner Douglas Richardson*).
[Spoilers below the line…] Continue reading
… and I’m left wanting to break his guitar. Not because I can’t get my head around the Bootstrap Paradox (even with the help of the Radio Times), but because I can’t buy the Doctor as a rocker. A dancer, yes; a reader, (*Tenth Doctor voice*) oh yes!; but a rock musician, not so much. (To be fair, I’m not that keen on Patrick Troughton’s recorder either.) But I digress.
[Here be spoilers…] Continue reading
Ohhhh – that’s more like it… And not a moment too soon.
I don’t mind being on my own in being dissatisfied with The Witch’s Familiar, but I really dislike writing reviews that are more negative than positive. So, hurrah for Toby Whithouse – a man who can really write ghost stories. (I can’t believe I haven’t given Being Human the Joy of Sets treatment yet – I must remedy this soon.)
[Yada-yada, spoilers below the line…] Continue reading
… and the witch is, indeed, familiar. As is what I’m coming to realise is the Moffat trope that annoys me the most – things done for just for show. Lord knows, I’m no fan of Clara and I was happy to enjoy her being strung up and tutored/tortured by Missy – right up until the point it was clear there was no point to it. (See also last week’s Doctor on a tank with a guitar.) It’s a shame, because otherwise it was quite a nifty piece of cliffhanger exposition – not an easy thing to do well. (Pushing Clara down the sewer to gauge the depth, on the other hand, was funny even if you could see the joke coming a mile away, because there was at least a purpose to it.)
Ah, autumn. Season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and Doctor Who – as Keats didn’t say. The evenings are drawing in, the spiders are preparing to make their break from under the sofa and our favourite Time Lord returns. (Not to mention our favourite Time Lady…)
Regular readers will, perhaps, recall my growing discontment with the last series, and I have to confess to approaching series nine with some trepidation. The good news is that The Magician’s Assistant is a much stronger start than I was expecting…
[Spoilers below the line. You know the drill by now…] Continue reading
I’ve tried to be nice, I really have. I’ve reminded myself that writing and executive-producing a massive show like Doctor Who is incredibly difficult. And that coming up with new ideas for four years isn’t easy either. But I cannot reconcile the fact that the same man who wrote Blink, the Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, is the same one who Last Christmas. Somewhere along the line, Steven Moffat lost the plot. And now the nicest thing I can say about Last Christmas is that Peter Capaldi is being woefully under-served by his showrunner. Continue reading