I suspect I am not the only viewer that greeted the news of Doctor Who spinoff Class with a sizeable helping of scepticism. The Steven Moffat seasons of the parent show have been patchy, to say the least, and the premise for this spinoff sounded an awful lot like Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But, that scepticism has now given way to excitement, as the full-length trailer reveals potential for a gripping, self-aware drama that incorporates the very best essence of Doctor Who.
Starring Greg Austin (Mr Selfridge), Fady Elsayed (Penny Dreadful), Sophie Hopkins (Since We Last), Vivian Oparah, and Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Class also boasts a brief appearance by The Doctor himself – Peter Capaldi – in the pilot episode.
“It’s a new term at Coal Hill Academy, and students are preparing for their Autumn Prom. But when the school comes under attack from the monstrous Shadow Kin, four alienated students must form an unlikely alliance to defeat them.
“Charlie, April, Ram and Tanya, assisted by their physics teacher Miss Quill, are now charged with a great responsibility by the mysterious alien known as ‘The Doctor’: to guard against the creatures of nightmare, who want nothing more than to find a way through to Earth and take it for their own.
“And this incursion is only the beginning…”
Also working in favour of the show is the fact that it is, in its entirety, written by Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls), with Steven Moffat on board as executive producer only. The promotional footage released shows that Ness has created a community within this fictional school, which rallies when faced with unprecedented threats against humanity. It has lots of great action, many fantastic shots, and an encouraging dose of self-deprecating humour. The additional snippet at the end where the characters discuss which pop culture products their new situation reminds them of, for example, is deftly handled.
But, drawing attention to how similar your premise is to television projects that have already been made doesn’t give you a free pass for lack of originality. Will Class prove to be an enjoyable, fresh take on a previously explored idea, or will we ultimately find that Patrick Ness has been copying the homework of other people a little too closely? All will be revealed on the BBC on October 22nd, 2016, and on BBC America in the spring of 2017.