On October 8, as part of New York Comic Con, BBC America hosted a panel featuring the writer and cast of the new show Class and premiered the trailer for the series. Class, a YA spinoff of Doctor Who, takes place at Coal Hill Academy, a school that has frequently been the site of paranormal activity in the show over the years and is most recently known to fans as Clara Oswald’s place of employment. In this series, the Doctor tasks four unique students — played by Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah — with protecting their school from the strange, dark forces that will inevitably attack while he’s gone. After having checked out the panel and the new trailer at NYCC this year, I’ve come up with this list of reasons why Class will be a must-watch series for Whovians.
[title type=”h4″]We Can Talk About What Happens When the Magical Hero Is Gone[/title]
You see it everywhere, from science fiction to comic books: the nomadic hero character who drops in to save the day and fix everything and then leaves to save another helpless person/town/country/planet. That’s all well and good, but what actually happens when those people have to return to their normal lives again? What happens when the Boogie Man comes back but the hero has already peaced out of there? Stories tend to avoid this complication, because, after all, what is the story without the hero? But the truth of the matter is, if we’re unable to imagine the world of the hero without the actual hero, if we’re able to see the limits of the stage, so to speak, then perhaps the story is not as real or developed as we’d like to think. Fortunately, even though Doctor Who is a series that so strongly relies on the action and adventures of its titular character, it is more so a story about how the companions are changed by that main character—how they adjust to the world he introduces them to, and how they are able (or unable) to return to their lives after being affected by him. Rarely does Doctor Who fail to account for how its main character affects not just his own world, but also the worlds of the people around him and the universe at large. This series is just another way of addressing this, how the world of the Doctor, and how the Doctor’s influence, expands beyond the limits of just individual episodes of Doctor Who.
[title type=”h4″]This Show Is Basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Aliens[/title]
I love Buffy, now and forever. So when I see a show about high school students who have to fight supernatural forces on a regular basis, I can’t help but share some of my Buffy affection for it as well. But it’s not just the premise that piques my interest; just like Buffy flawlessly incorporated action and humor (thanks to the genius writing of Joss Whedon), so too does Class seem to feature plenty of action and drama with a humorous flair. And just like Buffy addressed “teen issues,” Class will also examine issues that, yes, are certainly relevant to teens, but also relatable to adults as well. While Coal Hill isn’t situated above a Hellmouth like Sunnydale, still, it seems this school is a magnet for strange happenings and mysterious individuals. But you don’t have to take my word for it; I’m not the only one who sees some Buffy in the new series. Steven Moffat, executive producer of both Class and Doctor Who, said, “Class is dark and sexy and right now. I’ve always wondered if there could be a British Buffy; it’s taken the brilliant Patrick Ness to figure out how to make it happen.” And speaking of the “brilliant” Patrick Ness…
[title type=”h4″]Award-winning Author Patrick Ness[/title]
Ness, a YA writer who is best known for his Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls, is the writer of this new series. A two-time winner of the Carnegie Medal, among other awards, Ness is known for his ability to incorporate dark themes, suspense and, of course, monsters both real and human in his writing. A creator of his own dark, fantastical worlds, Ness is also no stranger to the Doctor Who universe and will be putting his own flair on the Whoniverse by introducing a vast array of new aliens and monsters in Class. Class seems as though it will introduce Whovians to a darker, more adult (ironically, despite the show’s marketing to a YA audience) take on the world of Doctor Who.
[title type=”h4″]A Diverse Cast of Characters[/title]
Even in the trailer it seems immediately apparent that the world of Class won’t be limited to straight, white males — and thank goodness for that. There’s Egyptian actor Fady Elsayed and black actress Vivian Oparah, not to mention the hints of non-heteronormative action depicted in the trailer.
[title type=”h4″]A Mysterious, Badass Teacher[/title]
We don’t know what the deal is with Katherine Kelly’s Ms. Quill is yet, but she’s clearly a badass. I don’t know about you, but after watching that trailer, I’d like these lines printed on a T-shirt so I can wear it every day of my life: “Whoever you are, I am what waits for you. And I am war itself.”
[title type=”h4″]The Doctor as Guest Star[/title]
While the show is about the four students who have to keep everything in check while the Doctor’s away, the Doctor himself also appears in the pilot episode. An easy way to get Whovians interested in Class, the cameo also serves as an appropriate send-off for the new series. It’s unclear if the Doctor will make any additional appearances in Coal Hill beyond that and if there will be any reverse crossover action with Class stars in Doctor Who, but either way, for now it seems Class will try to focus on establishing itself as a worthy partner to Doctor Who and gaining a spot in the hearts of Whovians.
Class will debut on October 22. Watch the trailer for Class below.