The series starts with a few ominous shots of school corridors, a glimpse of Miss. Quill with a student and an alien appearing from a rift. This immediately sets the tone for the show, which has frequently been described as ‘young adult’ and ‘more gory than Doctor Who’.
The title sequence, for me, feels a bit underwhelming and slightly ‘art school’, with cutouts of the main characters over psychedelic clouds, backed by Up All Night (by Alex Clare). Given the highly acclaimed music on Doctor Who and the impressive titles of its other spinoffs (Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures), this title sequence doesn’t have quite the same impact and the choice of 'pop' music over an original theme feels very lazy.
We are quickly introduced to the main characters - April, Tanya, Charlie, Ram and Miss Quill. We know straight away that the four children are our leads, because they’re the only ones in the classroom that talk. Despite being set in a school, we rarely get anything from any of the other pupils or other teachers. It's also a little underwhelming how the four come to be friends, just randomly talking to each other rather than something bringing them together. We do get a few insights into their home lives and parents. Whereas in Doctor Who the parents are often around more for comic effect, the parents in Class are more real, with April’s disabled mother, Tanya's strict mother and Ram’s protective but caring father.
The reveal of Charlie and Miss Quill being aliens is an interesting twist for the characters. I always like having alien characters as it adds possibilities for comic misunderstandings and a different view of human behaviour. Though we don’t learn much about their race, I’m sure we will over the course of the series.
The story centres around the kids preparing for a poorly organised prom - seriously, one bag of decorations to transform a whole hall and a few handwritten banners made mere hours before the event! The lacklustre event is quickly overshadowed (literally) by the arrival of Corakinus and his Shadow Kin army. As the first alien villains of the show, they are not too bad. The shadow concept is clearly borrowed and not as well executed as the Vashta Nerada, but they stand up as a well designed alien with a clear motive.
Finally, we have the appearance of the Twelfth Doctor. Unlike Captain Jack or Sarah Jane, this team is inexperienced and somewhat unwilling. The Doctor giving them the task of defending the planet from aliens is a great idea and Capaldi, as expected, is perfect in his cameo. The setup and explanation for why the alien encounters will be entirely localised within the vicinity of the school and surrounding areas is plausible and greatly appreciated.
Overall, Class has kicked off with a strong episode. There is a lot of promise, with a good story, decent characters and strong drama. I look forward to seeing how the series develops and what thrills lie in store for us.