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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.

23 Comments

  1. TomeDeaf
    January 21, 2019 @ 4:03 pm

    “hiring an actually disabled actress to play April’s mother”

    Yep. Though the subsequent playing out of “what if she were cured” is… erm… yeah. I gather (from a disabled friend who was with me at the Class premiere and spoke to both Ness and Sharon Murray (who plays April’s mother)) that this was a product of Patrick Ness wanting not only to hire a disabled actor to play a disabled character – as opposed to the usual practice of hiring an able-bodied actor – but also to then give her things to do that you might not normally expect to see a disabled actor doing (like getting up out of her chair), but this leans somewhat into the “cure” trope which is … difficult territory. I believe my friend said that Murray was not entirely happy with how the character was written but thought that it was a positive step and good representation overall, so she went along with it, but I might be misremembering things.

    “making the academically advanced character with a domineering mother the black woman is an intelligent choice that pointedly goes against stereotypes”

    Yes! I guess the Chibnall era gestures at this sort of stereotype-bucking, in that it doesn’t go with Yaz as ‘the medicine student with pushy parents’, but it certainly falls into the ‘absent black father’ thing, even if Ryan is made a relatively emotionally open character rather than a constantly angry one that perhaps plays against that trope (and even then, there’s the gunning things down stuff in ‘Ghost Monument’).

    I agree that the prom / end-of-the-world conceit is delightful, particularly April’s signs. “For Tonight We Might Die” is a lovely title for how the process of shedding inhibitions during one’s teenage years feels, IMO.

    Reply

    • Daibhid C
      January 21, 2019 @ 8:24 pm

      Yep. Though the subsequent playing out of “what if she were cured” is… erm… yeah.

      They could have done something interesting with it — there’s mileage to be made in the fact she’s cured because April thinks it’s a good idea without AFAICR asking her first.

      Heck, they didn’t even do something dull with it. They cured her, then they uncured her, and they did nothing with it.

      (Maybe I should have saved this rant for a few weeks…)

      Reply

      • taiey
        January 22, 2019 @ 12:16 pm

        The only thing I remember being done with it was April’s mum saying she shouldn’t have done it.

        Reply

  2. Homunculette
    January 21, 2019 @ 4:11 pm

    I always felt like Class missed a trick by using Buffy as its primary source text rather than Skins. Skins is a bizarre and often nonsensical show, but it’s hyper-heightened emotionality, genuinely great soundtrack, irreverence, and willingness to do bizarre things to upset its own status quo are all things that I think would have improved Class dramatically. As it stands, it frequently feels flat and out-of-date. Still, on rewatch I enjoyed it a lot more than coming off of series 9.

    Reply

  3. CJM123
    January 21, 2019 @ 5:38 pm

    I agree with most of what you say here El, but I was one of those people who watched the first episode and felt no desire to watch it. At first it was just lack of time to watch on an online show instead of a live one, but I never worked up much enthusiasm.

    It was the blood that ended my interest in the thing. The blood was just so much, so aggressive, and so out of place (it felt like the first episode of the show was bloodier than most of Miracle Day) that it just killed my enthusiasm for what was a show with writing that otherwise felt aimed at 14-16 year olds.

    The other thing was how American the show felt to me. The school felt like an American TV Soap School, instead of a British comprehensive/academy, which lost it an awful lot of the charm it otherwise might have had.

    Reply

    • jp
      January 21, 2019 @ 6:32 pm

      I vaguely remember the corridors were full of lockers – something that signifies U.S. high schools and definitely not British secondary schools. People have been saying something similar about that Netflix show that’s recently appeared. Perhaps schools have been adding lockers to their corridors, or perhaps it means that fewer and fewer of the people setting TV shows in British secondary schools actually attended one (as opposed to private schools) and are getting all their information from Buffy and The Breakfast Club.

      Reply

      • Daibhid C
        January 21, 2019 @ 8:26 pm

        I vaguely recall that my secondary school back in the late eighties had lockers. On the other hand, I don’t remember actually having a locker myself, so I dunno. Maybe I lost the key and didn’t like to say.

        I’m darned sure we didn’t have a prom, though.

        Reply

        • Daibhid C
          January 21, 2019 @ 8:43 pm

          Thinking about it, on a more general note I was able to forgive it a lot once they said it had been reinvented as an academy.

          Because I don’t expect one of David Cameron’s “converter academies” to be much like a proper comprehensive (that is, after all, the point), but I don’t have a clear picture of what they are like. Maybe some of them are like American high schools, who knows?

          Reply

          • CJM123
            January 21, 2019 @ 10:01 pm

            Having been at a school during its conversion to an academy, very little changes. Mainly the signs, the pay-check of the head, the presence of a bunch of shady businessmen (Which CLASS did get right actually) and some of the science labs.

            My schools had some lockers, but not the way the set was built. They tended to be found in clumps at different points, instead of lining all the corridors.

            If I remember correctly, it wasn’t even a prom, it was a homecoming, Spider-man style. Which, even though schools have proms nowadays, I’ve never known. They certainly had a full term straight-afterwards, based on the episodes, which is crazy.

            That wasn’t my main issue. My main issue was the presence of a full-time coach. No school I know of takes sports seriously enough to hire a full-time member of staff who calls themselves coach. Most PE teachers have to teach Maths or History or something as well because no-one has the budget to have a full-time lot.

            I think the most telling remark in your comment is “I don’t have a clear picture of what they are like.” The kids watching this would do, and when every detail feels just slightly off, it comes across as pandering in a very similar way to other shows, even if there’s a lot to theoretically admire.

          • Dave
            January 22, 2019 @ 12:56 pm

            Give it ten years in a post-Brexit Britain and watch Asda start marketing Thanksgiving to us.

            And betcha it’s a success.

          • CJM123
            January 22, 2019 @ 5:37 pm

            I want to argue with you, but I just can’t.

            Bugger.

          • kevin merchant
            January 25, 2019 @ 9:11 am

            Well American Halloween worked for them

          • Daibhid C
            January 22, 2019 @ 9:37 pm

            Right, I’d forgotten about the coach. Even if they had a full time PE teacher, it seems unlikely he’d be called coach.

            Thanks for the info.

          • Rodolfo Piskorski
            January 31, 2019 @ 1:56 am

            Well, I don’t know what academies are supposed to be like, but the real building is a Cardiff University medical research centre.
            https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/campus-developments/projects/hadyn-ellis-building

            There aren’t any academies in Wales anyway.

        • Peeeeeeet
          January 22, 2019 @ 6:58 pm

          I can back this up – we had lockers lining a corridor at my inner-city comprehensive back in the early nineties. Oddly, though, I also don’t recall them getting much use…

          Reply

  4. (Not That) Jack
    January 21, 2019 @ 7:47 pm

    A sign of how quickly Class fell out of my head was when I came here, only saw the photo, and, realizing that Series 9 was done on the Eruditorium, thought “man I don’t remember ‘The Pilot’ being that bloody.”

    Which might also say a fair bit about series 10 too, mind…

    Reply

  5. Leslie L
    January 21, 2019 @ 8:29 pm

    As someone who had watched the whole series (and is part of the Tumblr audience ), I found it refreshing.
    Not just in part of the how subversive it felt (not having the conventional paring of Charlie and April) but how it dealt with the Shadowkin and trying to tie him and April together.

    Granted there’s loads of clunky dialogue, the fact that the Doctor basically left high schoolers to fend for themselves (when that Bunghole in time would have been a good setup in Doctor Who itself,maybe for an anniversary episode)

    There are good parts to this series, April not forgiving her father for something later on in the series, how Quill has her own episode in a imagination TARDIS.

    Reply

  6. Christopher Brown
    January 21, 2019 @ 9:23 pm

    The Stenza and Tim Shaw are literally the Shadowkin and their king reskinned.

    Reply

  7. Przemek
    January 22, 2019 @ 8:44 am

    I watched the first episode and found nothing that would make me watch the second one. It wasn’t bad, it just looked generic and clearly wasn’t aimed at me, so I decided not to bother. Even Capaldi’s scene was strangely uninteresting, even though the Doctor visiting the spin-off should feel like a Big Thing.

    “It is frequently hokey and way too proud of itself, such as its invocation of the Bechdel test in its ninth line and its super knowing “it’s like the Hellmouth” exchange at the end.”

    Yeah, naming your inspirations only works if you can transcend them. Same goes for tongue-in-cheek trope awareness. And anyway, how many 2016 teenagers even watched Buffy?

    “(…) for all its flaws we might fairly describe Class as the Chibnall era done right.”

    Ouch.

    Reply

  8. TheWrittenTevs
    January 24, 2019 @ 4:18 pm

    For all my sins, I’ve always been fond of ‘Class’. All of its references to other genre shows of its type is the show highlighting its own genericism. Once set up as something that’s hyper-aware of genre clichés, it then goes on to plow through as many them as possible in a way that’s aggressive. To me, the defining moment of Class is when it decides to do a “Monsters bring the dead back to life” episode (a bog-standard plot that shows like this usually do several seasons in as long-term fan service) as it’s third episode, way before you should be trying something like this. I’ve just always found the idea of a “full on teenage genre show that’s always a bit too much” (whether that’s in terms of gore/blood, how strange it can push it’s plots, or in how fast it plow through as many clichés possible) to be enjoyably maximalist; I always thought it was quite fun.

    I do it think it under-estimated how out-there other teen shows could be while over-estimating how over the top it was being though. If you’ve watched ‘Riverdale’ and Season Six of ‘Buffy’, ‘Class’ ain’t that much. But God bless it, it was trying, and for all it’s faults, I’ve always been sad we didn’t get its proposed second season, if only to see what plots like “Weeping Angel Civil War” and “One of our main characters is a CGI rock person now” would’ve been like.

    Reply

  9. Daru
    January 27, 2019 @ 9:19 am

    Yeah it is a big shame that this opportunity was wasted in the end. I did generally enjoy the show, whilst seeing its flaws. It feels a shame that it often took the route of really obvious references that to me were seeming to go out of date. But I loved the cast and a lot of the tone and especially loved the interrogation of privilege through Charlie as the prince – and I did adore the performance of Quill. I notice that I haven’t rewatched it – but I would tho still be happy enough to do so (especially some of the other better eps).

    Reply

  10. Rodolfo Piskorski
    January 31, 2019 @ 1:50 am

    I thought this was first episode was interesting. It was smart, and funny, and weird. But then the show went downhill in a bizarrely systematic way. Each episode was an exact amount worse than the previous one. It was almost an mathematical, inexorable decline. The only exception was the bottle episode that was slightly better than the one preceding it, but overall just downhill.

    Reply

    • Rodolfo Piskorski
      January 31, 2019 @ 1:53 am

      Basically I just watched it because I walked past the Coal Hill Academy everyday, and my husband worked there.

      Reply

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