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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.

18 Comments

  1. Dan L
    February 18, 2019 @ 11:12 am

    “And after that… what, Big Finish is going to do it?”

    To be fair, their Class stuff has so far been pretty damn good. They do their best work when handed something that didn’t quite work on screen (see also their superlative Torchwood range).

    Reply

    • TomeDeaf
      February 18, 2019 @ 11:45 am

      Yeah – or the Colin Baker years, or Mel, etc….

      Reply

  2. TomeDeaf
    February 18, 2019 @ 11:47 am

    As I said on discord —

    I do rate Ness as a writer of adolescent experience, and still cherish that as I read his stuff as an adolescent. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but adolescence rarely is.

    Reply

  3. Przemek
    February 18, 2019 @ 12:10 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else here but for me “Class” is much less interesting than any other DW spinoff because I just don’t find adolescence all that compelling. I’m mostly glad mine is over and I rarely want to watch others go through it. And even if I did, I’d much rather rewatch “Buffy”.

    There’s also the fact that “Class” has much less connection to its parent show than any other DW spinoff I’ve watched. Where “SJA” is the lovable youngest child and “Torchwood” is the adult-and-jaded oldest sibling, “Class” is this troubled middle child in the midsts of their rebellious phase who’s mostly focused on proving to everyone how unlike their parents they are. That doesn’t really sound like someone I’d willingly hang out with.

    Reply

  4. MattM
    February 18, 2019 @ 12:34 pm

    To me, Class just wasn’t compelling as a Doctor Who spinoff as… well, it was nothing to do with Doctor Who. And I think a lot of fans just didn’t want to watch a mediocre programme that has nothing to do with Who. At least when Torchwood was being mediocre it was still the adventures of Captain Jack. It’s no less confusing that Who fans didn’t want to watch Class as not wanting to watch the hundreds of other samey genre shows out there which aren’t Who-related

    Reply

    • TomeDeaf
      February 18, 2019 @ 11:51 pm

      Replying to both you and Przemek above:–

      What Class at its best was trying to be, I think, and what people like Scriptscribbles over at Downtime have argued for, is a story about the haunting wounds the absence of the Doctor causes in the world. A loaded image in 2016, one might say. Other programmes that might be similar have that one key string missing from their bow: that the Doctor could have got involved, but actually just swanned off leaving some unprepared Sixth Formers desperately trying to cope with how terrifying the world is and how there are dragons that want to eat them. Other shows can’t do that, because the Doctor isn’t part of their backdrop. But Class can. It should’ve been made clearer, I think, in more resentment and anger directed towards the Doctor in subsequent episodes of the series, and maybe the odd returning monster or character to make the show feel more connected. But it definitely feels part of the DNA of the show that it, in Patrick Ness’ words, is telling the stories of the people who are left behind when the Doctor isn’t here.

      Reply

      • Przemek
        February 19, 2019 @ 8:22 am

        I like that idea a lot. But you’re right, it definitely should’ve been stressed more. As it stands, “Class” seems to be saying that what you get in the absence of the Doctor is generic and mediocre television.

        “Children of Earth” had pretty much the same premise but decided to go full blown cynicism. When there’s no Doctor, there’s no hope and we become monsters. I would’ve loved to see that new worldview Dr. Sandifer describes explored fully on “Class”. A show about traumas and how we can deal with them without hurting each other even more… but also without waiting for the godlike figure of hope to make us all better. “Class” is not that.

        Reply

  5. Annie
    February 18, 2019 @ 5:32 pm

    It’s interesting that you mention that you’ve fallen away from the optimism of Doctor Who and Sarah Jane, i’ve recently found myself re-watching the Sarah Jane adventures with a YouTube reactor, and it occurs to me that A lot of Sarah Janes non-violent beliefs really wouldn’t work if you’re a person of colour in this day and age.
    I think partially that’s because the show started from the premise that all people should be treated equally, but there are genuinely people in the world who think that people with a darker skin color are less human than themselves and that those should be discriminated against. .

    Reply

  6. Jesse
    February 18, 2019 @ 9:41 pm

    “As good as Blink is, it’s always been a bit of a damning indictment of the show in 2007: it works best when you just take the entire regular cast and the premise out of it and do something else.”

    That there is a good line.

    Reply

  7. Xaldel
    February 19, 2019 @ 9:40 am

    I think the reason I could never drum up any interest in Class was because even from the beginning, it felt rather manufactured in a way that the other spinoffs didn’t.

    Torchwood and SJA felt like they came in naturally, shows to host characters from DW who had become so beloved that they had truly earned the right to a spinoff. Meanwhile, Class doesn’t feel like it had any reason to come about. From its first announcement, it felt like something the BBC pushed and mandated in order to be an experiment to something (and apparently, that something was their online streaming channel).

    I think the biggest sign towards the show’s feeling of being manufactured is the conceit of having the Doctor show up in the very first episode and basically force the show’s premise onto its characters with very little motive or buildup. SJA didn’t need to butter up appeal by wheeling out David Tennant to give his thumbs-up of approval to this new cast; hell, Torchwood literally vowed away from ever even having the Doctor appear in it.

    And then the show came out, and reviews were perfectly mixed to the vein of “You might enjoy it if you sat down and watch it, but you’re really not missing anything if you don’t and this thing is probably not going to last another season anyway.” So, I didn’t. And it didn’t.

    Reply

  8. Rodolfo Piskorski
    February 19, 2019 @ 2:06 pm

    Only the shittiest of BBC Torchwood episodes were worse than the best Class episodes. I don’t see how Class can be seen as better than Torchwood, no way.

    Miracle Day is, of course, an exception. That is some of the worst TV I have ever seen, ever.

    Reply

  9. Camestros Felapton
    February 19, 2019 @ 11:16 pm

    Class was far better at using its ensemble cast than the last season of Doctor Who

    Reply

  10. Voord 99
    February 20, 2019 @ 11:43 am

    I think the question that I would have is, is saying that Class is not really worse than Torchwood or The Sarah Jane Adventures an argument for watching Class or is it an argument in hindsight against watching the other two shows?

    Class is the third spinoff from Doctor Who, and I think it’s possible that it was no more than the point at which it became clear that Doctor Who is not all that well suited as a concept to be a launchpad for spinoffs.

    The spinoffs have produced exactly one thing (Children of Earth) that I think rose to a genuinely high level, and Children of Earth is only marginally a Torchwood story – the real engine of interest, at least for me, is Frobisher and the government’s decisions. I strongly suspect that you could have rewritten CoE as its own story with no connection to Torchwood and Doctor Who and it would not lose that much.

    That’s sort of it, for me, maybe. A problem with “Aha, but in the spinoffs we see what happens with a Doctor-shaped gap in the story!” is that, well, isn’t that every other story that isn’t a Doctor Who story? Which is fine, obviously. There are lots of good things that aren’t Doctor Who. But if something is good at not being Doctor Who, it’s not clear that it would benefit all that much from being spun off from Doctor Who.

    Especially since Doctor Who itself is perfectly capable of not being Doctor Who for the occasional story if that’s an interesting thing to explore.

    Reply

    • mx_mond
      February 20, 2019 @ 6:31 pm

      “A problem with “Aha, but in the spinoffs we see what happens with a Doctor-shaped gap in the story!” is that, well, isn’t that every other story that isn’t a Doctor Who story?”

      No. There is a big difference between simply not featuring something and having a gap where something should be in that the latter still comments on the absent thing whereas the former doesn’t.

      Reply

      • Voord 99
        February 20, 2019 @ 6:55 pm

        Yes, but, as noted, that can adequately – I would say better – be done within Doctor Who itself. The mileage is inherently limited: if a spinoff succeeds as a separate story, it’s quite likely to hit that point where there is no Doctor-shaped gap, because that gap only exists to the extent that you are choosing to view the spinoff as a Doctor Who story.

        This is what I think CoE might show: that the only time that the spinoffs have really been successful is the one time that they might as well not have been spinoffs.

        Reply

        • mx_mond
          February 20, 2019 @ 8:31 pm

          I’m not sure I agree about CoE – it depends pretty heavily, for instance, on Jack as an imperfect copy of the Doctor in the confrontation with the 456, for instance; and it draws attention to the Doctor-shaped gap in Gwen’s video. Sure, you can remove those elements, but then the story would become something else.

          Reply

          • Voord 99
            February 20, 2019 @ 8:55 pm

            I agree that it draws attention to the absence of the Doctor in Gwen’s video (absolutely: I mean, she says it!). But for me, that’s an entirely unnecessary note that I find intrusive and awkward.

            As for whether it depends on Jack as an imperfect copy of the Doctor, I would say no more than the rest of Torchwood does. If one feels that’s what’s important about the story, that’s reasonable — but I think it should push one towards being equally positive about the rest of Torchwood.

            If so, fair enough. For me, CoE is much, much better than the rest of Torchwood, and I locate at least part of that in the fact that, for me, it’s the story of Frobisher to a greater extent than it is the story of the Torchwood characters. You could detach it from Torchwood and Doctor Who entirely without changing it into something different in any important respect.

  11. Daru
    February 22, 2019 @ 11:04 am

    I think for me this was like with ‘Dragon Tattoo’, one of my favourites. In the end though, I don’t think I rewatched Class because it was bad, or worse than Torchwood or SJA, but something in the flow of the overall story of setting didn’t completely work for me. I really did enjoy it though whilst watching, and I did watch most of them twice around airing – and if it had continued I think it is really possible that some of the structuring issues could have resolved – and I certainly would have carried on watching.

    Reply

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