Review: Class -wait, what? Mid-season finale already?

The peril of trying to import some US TV series sensibilities onto a UK television show is that those sensibilities are shaped by more than aesthetics. Notably, a UK ‘season’ is typically much shorter than a US one and in this case Class Season 1 is 8 episodes long. So Episode 4 is the middle of the season and that means a mid-movement rise to a crescendo.

Unfortunately, while Class is attempting to be different from Doctor Who but occupy a similar genre of SF/F-horror-weird, the Episode 4 & 5 two-parter inherits all of the basic Doctor Who problems.

Part 1 “Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart” starts fairly strong but suffers from the central character (April) being still relatively new to us. It is only three episodes ago that she became accidentally linked to the King of the Shadow Kin via her heart and the show really hasn’t had any time to develop that as an issue. Consequently, the growing link between April and the Shadow Kin has to be crammed into this episode. Likewise it was only in the previous episode that we learned that April’s mother lost the use of her legs in car crash that was a failed suicide attempt by April’s father – and that he had ended up in prison.

April’s story in Part 1 unfortunately feels rushed as a consequence. Her romance with Ram is also new from the previous episode, her relationship with her mother (even her mother as a character) is barely established and so the piling up crisis of her life in this episode feels more shallow than it should be.

Still the episode manages a degree of humour and emotional depth. The rising tension still works and the addition of a wholly separate threat (blood thirsty blossoms) adds to the feeling of crisis. The Charlie/Quill dynamic continues to be interesting and the additional threat is used to further explore how Charlie’s ethics are themselves flawed and tend towards moralistic rather than moral.

Part 2 “Brave-ish Heart”¬†(Part 2) has a bad case of Doctor Who two-parter disease. The set up of Part 1 can’t really be delivered. The crowded story of Part 1 now needs to be padded out in Part 2 and Part 2 needs a visit to an alien planet and an epic duel – which the low-cost effects can’t deliver effectively.

Time is filled by the assembled characters and character’s parents spending a lot of time talking about what kind of people the characters are. That all feels a bit clumsy and it also pulls the tension out of the plot.

Not appallingly bad but definitely half-baked. To work, we needed to have spent more episodes learning about the character dynamics and a more gradual impact on April of the link to the Shadow Kin. The story itself didn’t have an additional 40 minutes of plot after the episode 1 cliff hanger and the budget wasn’t going to deliver the climactic duel.

And now I’ve caught up! New episode on Monday in Australia, Sunday in the UK and Americans have to wait because you’ve all been very bad people.

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4 comments

  1. KasaObake

    The most cringeworthy part of the whole thing was the absolutely terrible swordplay.

    I actually thought it worked somewhat better than a Dr Who two-parter – not quite as many gaping holes although it did still feel like 1.5 episodes stretched badly to fill the ~80 minute runtime (rather than Dr Who’s approach of take one episode and add 40 minutes of filler to pad it out)

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  2. Mark

    I think I liked it more than you did, but yeah: typical 1.5 episodes stretched into 2 syndrome.

    It’s a bit odd that Who has managed to lose the ability to do multiple-episode stories well.

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