[You can now read the entire restrospective here]
And so it came to pass, that in 2016, a new Doctor Who spin-off was launched.
It was a YA show, written by acclaimed author Patrick Ness, and Class was its name. And, as we all know by now, it was a failure. A PR failure, that is (assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the storytelling, that’s for later) – a project that was unclear for most of the non-hardcore fans, surrounded by silence until two trailers dropped essentially in the same week only less than a month before it aired, that’s not exactly bound for success. By the time this piece is written, it’s relatively safe to assume that the dying show, losing blood in some obscure English back alley, hasn’t been rescued by an American tourist and is now well and truly dead (although, I hope not, and if you know the address of a good necromancer, that could come in handy) – which means, of course, it’s time for a post-mortem. What was Class, what did it do, where did it succeed, where did it failed and what was it trying to say. Those are the action items.
Of course, an introduction might be in order, just so that my position as far as the show’s concerned is clear. I, personally, was eagerly waiting for the eight episodes to drop – the set-up sounded unconventional and intriguing, and, grabbing some books by the author, I very quickly found out I really, really loved Ness’ writing (seriously, Chaos Walking is the shit). Really, my take was that more Who, under any form, unless said content is seriously offensive, is always a good thing – more material, more experimentation, and if we want to be all crude and capitalist, more brand presence. But then the show actually happened, and I was confused, and grew all the more confused with the weeks that passed – and at the end, I was left intrigued and challenged, but not really satisfied. It’s not that Class is a bad show – it’s a very interesting piece of writing that, at its best, showcases some extremly ambitious storytelling. It has a vision. But at the same time, it’s also an extremly flawed piece of fiction – and it’s not the simple case where you can clearly draw a line between the “good” and the “bad” elements, no; with Class, the good and the bad are often one and the same. It’s a wild whirlwind of a show – one that demands, maybe more than any slice of Who before, to be analyzed and discussed. So let’s try to do just that, and to make sense of all the strange strange elements that make the world of Class.
Having a look at the show as a whole is not really possible, though, because Scribbles has already done it, and while he’s a lot more positive on “The Lost” than me, I don’t think I have much to add to his analysis. Go read it, it’s great. No, instead, this series is going to be an ensemble of micro-essays looking at different aspects of the show – different characters, different issues, different themes and motives. This post covers the three first episodes, and will be followed by a second tackling the Heart two-parter, and by a third focused on “Detained“, “The Metaphyiscal Engine” and “The Lost“.