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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. arcbeatle
    October 23, 2016 @ 5:34 am

    Agreed pretty much in every respect, though I found Charlie a bit more interesting than you did. Or perhaps, I found his boyfriend more interesting. I hope we see more of him.

    Ram is really the standout character here, and I hope the actor Fady Elysayed gets a lot of work after this. He’s spectacular.

    I wasn’t sure what kind of show this would be, and I was still surprised. I like it though, and with the second episode being way stronger than the first, that hopefully bodes well for its future. Fingers crossed!


  2. ScarvesandCelery
    October 23, 2016 @ 5:59 am

    A solid start, definitely better than Torchwood and SJA at this point – I enjoyed the episodes greatly.

    Re. Miss Quill, I appreciated the Doctor’s “I didn’t say that was your crime” line – there’s a hint that the show is genuinely willing to interrogate the dynamic between her and Charlie.

    Ram is definitely the standout character so far, although I see potential for all of the cast.


  3. Luca
    October 23, 2016 @ 7:00 am

    I generally liked this, altough I must say I am I’m extremely disappointed with the gay storyline. The buffy-ish storytelling didn’t mesh well with making Charlie an alien, so where all the other main characters can have some kind of internal conflict that follows the more fantastic elements of the plot, he gets repetitive “I don’t know pop culture” jokes and last-of-his-kind brooding. Having a character be gay be something incidental can have it’s merits, but I just don’t think it was quite right here. On the other hand, Matteusz is so far barely a character, and his fight with his parents was ignored in favor of having the couple kiss without even having a conversation on screen. I guess that was supposed to be akin to the Bechdel test line, to show they wouldn’t hesitate to do the gay kiss, but I doubt anyone tought they would, so that just feels like ticking a box. And of course the second episode skips the whole subject to focus on the straight character.
    On the whole, I guess I don’t find it as bad as I might insinuate here, but remembering how self-congratulatory Patrick Ness was when he revealed there was a gay lead right after Orlando just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.


    • Tom Marshall
      October 23, 2016 @ 8:32 am

      How could Episode 2 not focus on Ram? You know, the one who saw his girlfriend killed in front of him, was spattered by her blood, then had his leg cut off? If it hadn’t focused on him, that would have been fucking appalling writing!

      Though it’s Tanya-centric, Ness has said Ep 3 is a good one for Charlie/Matteusz fans so I’m sure there will be lots more of them to come.

      I also don’t get why it’s not a good thing that it’s so incidental (as pointed out, not a single word relating to anyone’s sexuality has even been said out loud, which is nice).

      Plus, teenagers kiss early on first date shocker!

      I also think it’s deeply crass to accuse Patrick of being “self-congratulatory” about the gay lead after Orlando. He’s a gay American man with deeply troubled anxiety issues and panic attacks. I suspect his comments came from the heart.


      • Luca
        October 23, 2016 @ 7:31 pm

        OK, I didn’t know he was gay, so I really shouldn’t have called him self-congratulatory. I just honestly tought that saying “Oh by the way here’s a gay character in my show” after a tragedy was a bit off.
        And yes, the second episode had to focus on Ram, because his girlfriend was just fridged and all, but still the other plot didn’t have to disappear. I’m glad they’re coming back next episode, though.
        In the end, I guess it’s a matter of personal taste, but I really don’t think being gay is ever incidental, especially in teenagers. I don’t get what is specially nice about not mentioning anyone’s sexuality aloud either.


        • Tom Marshall
          October 23, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

          “Nice” was an odd adjective choice for me there, but what I mean is among me and my friends and other people I know my age (I’m 21) no one talks about who fancies what gender at all because a) we all know already, and b) it just doesn’t matter. It’s like making it a non-issue – I think that’s a key part of Patrick’s “you change the world by pretending it’s already changed” thing. Present all this stuff as utterly normal and not “the tortured male lead struggling with coming out” and you send a more positive, inclusive message about any and all sexual preferences are utterly, utterly OK.


          • Luca
            October 23, 2016 @ 8:35 pm

            I don’t know, I’m only 20 myself, and I think I have a completely different perspective. I think I prefer having the real issues portrayed than making it non-issue. And it doesn’t need to be about coming out, tortured or even male. I mean, if we just trace this back to Buffy, I believe Willow had a wonderful storyline about embracing her relationship, even if it wasn’t perfect. I also find Davies’ stuff outside of Doctor Who specially good. Cucumber and Banana, for example, are 100% not incidentally gay and don’t feature a single coming out storyline. I guess this whole “it shouldn’t be a big deal” mentality just makes me think about all the straight people who think affirmation of sexual identity is taking things too seriously or something.
            Maybe I’m wrong and Charlie will turn out to be a great character, but i’d still rather have someone like Nathan Maloney from Queer as Folk or Rickie Vasquez from My So-Called Life.

          • Tom Marshall
            October 23, 2016 @ 8:49 pm

            Very fair comments – I’ll chew them over.

  4. Tom Marshall
    October 23, 2016 @ 8:29 am

    Probably a fair review, though I find Charlie and April a lot more interesting than you. This probably has at least something shallow to do with Sophie Hopkins’ attractiveness, and how bowled over I was to meet her at the premiere, mind. April looks to only get more interesting once her absent father is back on the scene.

    The ‘info-dump’ in Part 1 is definitely clunky and long, but Charlie’s backstory and his subsequently fucked-up yet codependent relationship with Miss Quill is rather good; I want to see where that goes.

    Generally, I really liked it, though I have a hard time being completely objective about this as I am an enormous fan of Patrick Ness in general and the experience of, and atmosphere at, the premiere was so wonderful.


    • Riggio
      October 25, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

      I also thought April was a very interesting character. It’s just that she’s more subtle – the one who heaps burden after burden on herself in the name of holding it down for everyone else. It’s that moment where she talks to Charlie about her mother’s car accident that made me realize it. She’s the backbone of the team, but the question is going to be where her breaking point is finally going to be. That’s her countdown.

      More details at my own post on the first episode, where I get into some pretty deep philosophical shit.


      • Tom Marshall
        October 26, 2016 @ 1:34 pm

        Fascinating stuff. I certainly think April’s fragility/resolve dichotomy is going to be at the heart (ho ho) of her character, and indeed it’s what impressed me most about her from the off. Neat, too, that the one who has a paraplegic mother (“all of life is on a knife edge”) and cares for her is the one who now is literally keeping the villain of the piece alive, albeit in a sci-fi way. She’s one to watch. (Also, her absent father is returning in Episode 4, so that should be interesting).

        You noticed the Bonnie Prince Charlie thing as well, did you? πŸ˜‰


  5. Janine
    October 23, 2016 @ 9:32 am

    See, I’m just not struck yet, which is surprising considering I was one of the few people I know who had actually expected to really like this.

    A few things just feel really off about this show, and I don’t think they’re going away any time soon. It’s bad enough to fridge a female character who’s only been presented in relation to a significant male character anyway, but to do that AFTER having highlighted feminist criticism (the Bechdel test)…. well, it seems even worse.

    I see the appeal in laying all the trauma on one character (even if it’s a bit cruel), so you can keep the rest of the characters more or less untarnished and use the one exception to have a proper, unremitting look at the effects of PTSD, but it’s just been done very clumsily so far – the prosthetic leg works wonders on its own; did they really need to fridge the girlfriend?

    And then Ness makes the gay character an alien, which he should have known better than to do. I get that it’s a metaphor for isolation – I think most people get that – but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s continuing one of Doctor Who’s worst traditions, of refusing to have a completely ordinary guy who just so happens to be gay, without being a gimmick or tragic or a fucking alien.

    I liked the critique they had going of the Doctor, though – how his cheap and easily solution to “fix” Ram failed to treat him as a human being or address his trauma. And I liked the stuff they did with April a lot – her distinction between “nice” and “kind”, her little assessment of innocence in female characters, and yes, even her Instagram outburst.

    True, this was a stronger start than Torchwood or The Sarah Jane Adventures had. But where those two shows had a character from Doctor Who in the lead role… this one doesn’t. And it’s not doing much to justify why it should be a Doctor Who spin-off instead of your run-of-the-mill sci-fi teen drama. With little bits clearly inspired by the show (Quill being a Missy-type character, Charlie being a Doctor-type character, the ‘love’ twist of the second villain, the shadow monsters) it feels more like a show trying to be LIKE Doctor Who than a show actually trying to add anything to Doctor Who.


    • Tom Marshall
      October 23, 2016 @ 9:47 am

      Er, there is a completely ordinary character who happens to be gay. He’s called Matteusz. You know, the other gay guy in the gay couple? The show’s sixth main character?


      • Janine
        October 23, 2016 @ 9:57 am

        You don’t need to be facetious, I know who he is, but he needs a helluva lot more work to be considered a “main character” – he got, what, five or six lines in that first episode? And didn’t even feature in the second. Could be a good character, though, I’ll grant you that.

        And okay, argument accepted, but answer me this: when was the last time the show features a gay couple where both the characters were human, mortal, and in every sense of the word “ordinary”? It’s been too long.


        • Tom Marshall
          October 23, 2016 @ 10:42 am

          Ep 3 is more Matteusz/Charlie-centric according to Ness. And I suspect he’ll take it further. As above, he’s a gay man explicitly looking to just make homosexuality in this programme a completely normal, unremarked-on, thing.

          (Of course, Charlie may not be gay – he might be bi, or any other alien sexuality. We don’t even really know he’s male in our terms. So all this stating that he’s 100% gay is a bit far).

          I take your point about not having many “ordinary” gay couples in the parent show – though to that I’d say there are very few ordinary straight couples in it either!!

          Sorry about the facetiousness, though.


  6. MattM
    October 23, 2016 @ 10:52 am

    I thought it was okay but still really really unsure why it’s a Doctor Who spinoff!!


  7. dm
    October 23, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    It’s trying really, really hard and it shows. But its heart is in the right place for the most part. And people differentiating between “nice” and “kind” is a really big thing for me (people tell me I’m the former when I really strive to be the latter)

    I’ve not finished episode two yet, due to a dodgy connection, but the “class” politics in episode one already bug me. I hope it doesn’t continue down this path of “revolutionaries will always go too far and invalidate their cause”, Koba the Ape shit. But maybe they’re right, because really I just want to see Quill dismember that posh twat.


    • dm
      October 23, 2016 @ 11:36 am

      wow those two thoughts are so incompatible


    • Chris C
      October 23, 2016 @ 1:19 pm

      I liked the touch of Quill assuming the Doctor will condemn her for being a freedom fighter, but him actually not doing so.


  8. dm
    October 23, 2016 @ 11:56 am

    On the rare occasions that I write stuff, I name all the characters after 90s musicians. Class just did that with Jarvis and Damon. I don’t know if I’m happy or angry about that


  9. AlfredJ
    October 23, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

    Hey, I’ve read your comments about your Patreon a couple of times, and how close it was getting to reaching the goal for the Class reviews. I just wanted to say, as a long-time reader and giant fan of your blog (although I never commented), that I would have loved to throw some cash your way (your repeated comments made me feel kind of guilty for reading your blog for free for so long) and I came close to doing so, but due to some bad luck (losing a job, taking a big paycut, some fire damage to the house) and some unexpected amazingly good news (getting a baby in the near future!), I just really can’t afford to spend money on anything right now. Even just 2 dollars is a big amount for me right now. I do promise that I’ll throw some money your way when things calm down financially for us (which should be in about 6 months, I’m lucky enough to be scheduled for a great project at work around then which should fix most of my money issues for the time being). It’s only right, given that I’ve enjoyed your work for so long.

    Just wanted to throw this out there because I’ve been feeling guilty about this for a while. Your work definitely is appreciated (a lot!), but I just can’t express that in cash right at this moment. I haven’t had a lot of free time in the last months, and reading your blog/watching classic Who was always a rare source of calmness in those hectic times. So, thank you for that.

    Sorry if this was unneeded or sappy, but you know, becoming a dad does tend to make even the most cold-hearted bastards (of which I am one) a bit emotional at times.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      October 23, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

      Nobody is under any obligation to support the blog. If I minded people reading it for free, I wouldn’t post it on the Internet. Support is welcome and keeps it running, but the entire point of keeping it running is so that people like you get to enjoy it too.

      Hope financial circumstances turn around, and please don’t feel guilty on my account. Glad I’ve managed to make hard circumstances even a little bit better – I remember when my situation was much less stable than this, and have nothing but sympathy.

      Take care, and thanks for the kind words.


  10. Anton B
    October 23, 2016 @ 8:01 pm

    Well, it continues the grand BBC tradition of casting middle class mid twenty-something drama school graduates as young working class teenagers so we were on familiar ground from the start. I hope the success of the talented and genuinely young cast in Stranger Things (whatever you might think about that show as a whole) might cause British casting directors to reconsider this policy. The dialogue was excruciating. All pontification and laborious exposition delivered in perfect uninterrupted sentences topped and tailed with sub-par Moffat style sit-com zingers. Has the writer ever listened to real South London teens’ speech patterns? Maybe it’s imperceptible to non-British ears but those RP accents made me want to kick the screen in. The characterisation was heavy handed and cliched (Yes I know very diverse. Well done BBC. But really in 2017 we shouldn’t have to remark about that). So we got ‘the swot one’ , ‘the jock one’, ‘the gay (or is he just alien?) one’, the Gayliens date, and, gawd help us, ‘the girl one’. some hastily sketched Shadowbaddies with no motivation other than they’re Shadowbaddies. Oh and yes the immensely irritating (but to be fair excellently acted) Moffatty smart talking dominateacherix.
    I’m going to need a little more convincing to venture beyond the first episode I’m afraid.


    • Peeeeeeet
      October 23, 2016 @ 10:43 pm

      I mostly agree with you but I have seen variations on this comment so this seems a good place to tackle it:

      Maybe it’s imperceptible to non-British ears but those RP accents made me want to kick the screen in.

      I know plenty of people from working- or very low-end middle-class backgrounds who are articulate and don’t have strong accents or speak with a lot of dialect words. I find it quite patronising when people expect us to all talk like the cast of Eastenders (or in my case, er, Last of the Summer Wine, possibly). Some people do, some people don’t. Class background might influence it but it doesn’t dictate it.


      • Anton B
        October 24, 2016 @ 12:41 am

        I’m working class myself. from North London as it happens. I’m not expecting comedy regional dialects just believable dialogue.


    • Richard Pugree
      October 23, 2016 @ 11:10 pm

      On the age thing – I don’t think there’s a BBC/British TV vs US difference in the way you describe. I mean, sure, these guys are older than they should be and the Stranger Things cast are young. But you can easily find numerous examples of each being the other way round.

      Off the top of my head: Skins, Grange Hill, Byker Grove. Misfits in the UK (not all BBC admittedly) had young/’right’ age casts, vs Smallville, Dawsons Creek, The OC with casts who seemed far older than their characters.

      I’d say watch the 2nd episode – it’s much stronger. Still flawed, but much less clunky and can just get on with doing its thing for the most part. I agree with you about the characterisations generally, but I’m hoping they’re being done like this initially in order to have some more fun with where you can take those initial cliches down the line. Still definitely some off moments, but on the whole I think the balance is much better in the second episode and it manages to be good fun throughout.

      If you don’t like that either then maybe try again for series 2 when it’s likely to have found its feet a little more? The show definitely has some promise, although it’s definitely not all landed.


      • Anton B
        October 24, 2016 @ 12:56 am

        I agree Richard. My original comment does make it seem like I’m comparing US and British TV in general. Not my intention, I was really just using the example of ST as a way to do casting right. There are plenty of good and bad examples on both sides. I was surprised actually as Doctor Who and its spin-offs generally do cast well.

        as a supply teacher, I have to say, Ms Quill would never get away with that kind of behaviour at a real sixth form college. Dropping a students phone deliberately on the floor, disrespecting and insulting the students. She’d be out on her ear before the week was out, I know it’s a fantasy drama but how can we believe the unbelievable stuff when the ‘normality’ set up is so unrealistic?

        Finally is it just me or was Capaldi looking distracted and phoning it in? I didn’t believe in his scenes for a minute.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          October 24, 2016 @ 2:08 am

          My reaction to Miss Quill destroying the phone was roughly “Oh, OK, this is the relationship to reality we have here.” This is clearly set in a TV school not a realist school.

          And what is this “belief” you speak of? You’re not trying to suspend your disbelief, are you? It’ll only end in tears.


          • Anton B
            October 24, 2016 @ 2:24 pm

            Phil. I forgot where I was. Forgive me. Disbelief duly unsuspended. πŸ˜‰

            (He did look a tad bored though)

  11. Desdemona.GC
    October 23, 2016 @ 11:49 pm

    Hitting a different age group to the one I’m in, but I do have teenagers at home, so, not so out of the loop with TV for the ‘young-uns’.

    Enjoyed it a lot more than the early episodes of both TW and SJA. And in the SJA episodes where the Doctor was announced to turn up, I’d spend the whole episode tapping my fingers in anticipation of his appearance. Class had me engaged enough to actually forget the 12th Doctor was arriving soon and have it come as a mild surprise. So that’s a nice change.

    One challenge with the shorter UK series (6 eps) over the US model (22, 24 or more) is that characters can be introduced gradually across a series, rather than dumped into the first episode. Which can seem more organic to the story, than the super brief intros in Class and the blatant and borderline generic info dump.


  12. Brian B.
    October 25, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

    So, I’ve never heard of this show. What is it, and why (other than the Capaldi drop-by) is it a “Doctor Who” spinoff?


    • Brian B.
      October 25, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

      (I did read the review before asking. As much as Sandifer is one of my favorite writers, this felt like an unwelcome revisit of his Eighth Doctor reviews, where he was so busy analyzing why BBC and Big Finish didn’t set up the televised return that he often forgot to mention what the stories were about.)


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        October 25, 2016 @ 2:54 pm

        What, you mean the period where I opened posts with quick summaries of the texts and their receptions? πŸ™‚

        Anyway, this is the new BBC Three Doctor Who spinoff Class, which will be making it to the US in 2017.


  13. ViolentBeetle
    October 25, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

    Wait, no mention about Ram’s disposable girlfriend being designtegrated into fridge? I expected more Social Justice from you, Phil.


    • AndyRobot
      November 6, 2016 @ 6:06 am

      It might be down to the fact that “fridging” is more of an issue when the only significant female character in a show/movie gets killed off to give the lead male a “reason to fight.” Class, on the other hand, has three really interesting women/girls in lead roles, with their own motivations, ideas, etc.

      Or: yeah, Ram’s girlfriend gets killed, but meanwhile Ms. Quill is dealing with an alien invasion and Tanya’s struggling with her strict Mum and…


  14. Matthew
    October 25, 2016 @ 8:13 pm

    Not to bring the tone down too much, but isn’t it “bumhole” not “bunghole”?


    • prandeamus
      October 25, 2016 @ 10:34 pm



  15. prandeamus
    October 25, 2016 @ 10:34 pm

    Ep 1: The memorial wall contains a PINK and an OSWALD at the end. If you freeze frame just after that, there’s an entry for FORMAN, S. I can’t find significance in the other names. I’m not sure exactly what’s being memorialised. Maybe one of them is the headmaster from Remembrance?

    Ep1: The info dump section was better done than some people give it credit for. It’s clearly visualised in April’s imagination, with very Hogwarts visuals. And the issue of what the aliens “really” look like is skipped over. Quite neat I thought.

    Ep1: See Quill’s face when she sees the Doctor? Nicely done. But why does she have a hotline to the TARDIS if the Doctor has no intention of moving them elsewhere? Just plotdeviceium, I guess.

    It’s definitely BUNGHOLE.

    Ep 2: There’s a half hearted reference to the dragon as drug use. That whole “I’m in control, I can handle this” thing. But the rest of the script doesn’t really support the link. Something went over my head, perhaps? It’s perfectly possible. And the scene in the football practice where the coach tells

    Ep2: Why does the coach tell his associate not to question him in front of the team, when he hasn’t done so? Or was that the edit?

    Ep2: Oh, the robotic OFSTED inspector. Anyone in teaching profession will love that.

    I quite liked both episodes (perhaps partly due to the novelty of watching BBC3 on iplayer). The blood is getting on my nerves a bit; it’s not my thing.


    • prandeamus
      October 25, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

      Oh, and the filing cabinet with FOOTBALL FOOTBALL labels. Someone hates PE teachers, I suspect.


      • Thomas Marshall
        October 26, 2016 @ 10:49 am

        I agree about the flashback sequence – it is a clunky thing, but if you’re going to do that clunky thing, it’s a very good example of how to do the clunky thing. Witty and nicely shot and stylish.

        The other coach had questioned him in front of the players – he’d been saying that Ram’s girlfriend had died so maybe Chief Coach Dawson should go a bit easier on him. Dawson took “in front of the players” quite extremely there, mind, since I doubt many of the lads actually heard what Assistant Coach Carroll said.

        And when it comes to the names on the blackboard- please, allow me πŸ˜‰ – there’s actually TEN injokes on there:

        PINK, R D (Series 8)
        OSWALD, C (Series 7-9)
        FOREMAN, S (Seasons 1-2)
        PARSON, H (the headmaster from Remembrance of the Daleks whose name is confirmed in Nothing at the End of the Lane)
        ALFREDSON, A.S. (suggested as the caretaker who went missing in Remembrance of the Daleks, though I can’t find anything to back this)
        OKEHURST, A., GIBSON, J. and HATCHER, D. (all from Time and Relative)
        DUNLOP, A. (Coal Hill teacher from The Magician’s Apprentice – not around by the time of Class)
        and finally, as a bit of a silly one, MOLESWORTH, N (as in Nigel Molesworth from “Down with Skool”)

        Maybe later in the series we might see the names of Rachel; WILLIAMS, KEVIN; DAWSON, TOM; Assistant Coach Carroll; whatever the Russian cleaner was called; and Mr Armitage all on the board.


        • prandeamus
          October 26, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

          I am out-classed.


          • Tom Marshall
            October 26, 2016 @ 8:13 pm

            I mostly stole these off other people who spotted them, in all honesty.

            But I tell you who we have been out-classed by: whichever fannish designer put all these EasterEggs on that board! Someone has been very busy indeed!

    • The Flan in the High Castle
      November 1, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

      The flashback struck me as being quite similar to the one in The Witch’s Familiar. In both cases, we’re told straight-up that what we’re seeing is just an imagined take on a mythic event – the details are beside the point, and can be interpreted a myriad of ways. It’s an oddly literary technique in that respect.


  16. prandeamus
    October 25, 2016 @ 10:38 pm

    And in Ep2 Ram takes a public shower but his leg looks pretty normal to me when it’s supposed to be an alien replacement he has to cover with a sock. Either I’m becoming a nit-picker or the editing looks a bit sloppy.


  17. David Bateman
    October 29, 2016 @ 12:20 am

    In general, I enjoyed both episodes. At least, they were both quite strong in terms of the visual impressions left in my memory. My major complaint would be that there are no really good, original monsters so far. And, they’re going to have to address that sooner or later in the series. Although, perhaps it would be better if they abandoned monsters altogether and went back to exploring stories in historical settings or even literary genres. Maybe I just feel done with unremarkable monsters and want to see something new.

    With regards to the board, is it supposed to be a list of teachers, pupils, or govenors? None of the above, probably. What seemed interesting is that the Doctor now appears to remember Clara, or at least her name rings a bell. There was no indication that he remembers Susan, however.

    I liked the name TARDIF – I wonder what it stands for.

    Bunghole, definitely. But I hope people stop referring to the show as ‘the British Buffy.’


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