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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Class is a sci-fi series set in the same universe as perennial BBC favorite Doctor Who, but is a bit less family-friendly. The premise involves a group of high school students who, together, face off against aliens in bloody and intense conflicts. The show features impulsive, selfish decision-making on the part of adults and teenagers alike. Battles can be violent, but always have impact and consequences. Parents should be ready to discuss classic teen problems (popularity, etc) as well as big picture issues like war, with any tweens that want to watch.
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What's the story?
CLASS' Coal Hill Academy is a place where older teens get up to the usual things: dating, sports, and popularity contests. Ram (Fady Elsayed) has no trouble with popularity as the school's star soccer player, but life's more challenging for his tutor Tanya (Vivian Oparah) whose intelligence puts her ahead in school but behind in friendships. She's still better off than April (Sophie Hopkins), who lacks Tanya's brains but has similar social struggles. High school is about to get harder and far more dangerous for these students, as they're unwittingly drawn into conflict with a number of invading alien races. Thankfully, they have help from Charlie (Greg Austin) who poses as a student, but is actually an alien prince whose race was wiped out following a war. Teacher Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly) is also alien in origin, enslaved to protect the prince. This unlikely group must unite to defend the earth from aliens who use Coal Hill as a gateway, temporally vulnerable due to the frequent time travels of another alien: the famed Doctor Who.
Is it any good?
There's a lot to enjoy about this spin-off of the immensely successful Doctor Who. Featuring an engaging cast, the show doesn't shy away from the realities of being a teen: mainly that it's full of angst for even the most popular of students. And who doesn't love a narrative that pits a modern-day Breakfast Club against monster-of-the-week style aliens? There's some particularly gross violence that ups the stakes of the conflict, but makes for engrossing viewing. The show is grown up enough to appeal to older sci-fi fans but is a bit graphic for younger audiences crossing over from Doctor Who. This show will speak to teens who grew up with the Doctor, even though the quick pace of the plot can make the story feel a bit tangled. It's not a game-changing show, but it's solid binge-watching and a welcome addition to the Doctor's universe.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence on shows aimed at younger audiences. Do shows that spin-off of family-friendly shows, even if marketed to older teens like Class, have more responsibility to show the impact violence has?
Families can talk about the use of war in science-fiction narratives. Why do so many popular stories feature alien races at war? How might these stories be useful in better understanding our own world?
- Premiere date: April 15, 2017
- Cast: Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins, Vivian Oparah, Katherine Kelly
- Network: BBC America
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, High School, Space and Aliens
- Character strengths: Courage, Curiosity, Teamwork
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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