The Lost.

TV Fucks sake. Eight episodes of this woefully middling series (I've come to the conclusion I was initially too kind to Class) and now we're treated to one of the most pat reveals since the cliffhanger ending of the first episode of every old Who story with Dalek in the title. The Weeping Angels. Well, gee. Perhaps its for the best that this "arrival" business hasn't been hinted at for the whole series because then we really might have felt let down.  Then again, I still feel let down even though we were only made aware of it about half an hour before they emerged.  True, it's hard to think of another monster which might have had more currency, the Voord perhaps, but there's something really quite disappointing about having to sit through one of those scenes which is supposed to be some ruddy great revelation and then be reintroduced to a foe which has gone past the point of having made their point.

Who are these governors?  Cyril Nri is obviously not supposed to be reprising his shopkeeper role from The Sarah Jane Adventures, mores the pity, but as it goes so far they are incredibly dull, which means they're not some part of the Faction Paradox or breakaway wing of the Time Lords.  One of the key decisions taken in the Buffyverse has been to not entirely introduce its audience to the senior partners at W R & H, which has kept them deliciously mysterious.  Giving this lot a face and dress sense automatically diminishes them as does their astonishingly cliched if beautifully photographed locale.  In an episode already overstuffed, we're also being asked to care about yet another thing which isn't even in the expositional orbit of most of the main characters other than in a vague sense of the headmistress knowing some things.

Gah.  I'm cross.  Once again, Class fails to tip over into Torchwood's Miracle Day levels of awfulness, settling once again into being, yeah, it's OK.  You're not missing much if you don't watch it, and it has enough decent things in it if you're patient enough, but, shrug.  Rubbish without being downright awful.  The Lost is the epitome of what's been wrong with the whole series.  To repeat:  not enough time given over to making us care about the characters in a series which feels like a much longer stream of episode reduced to just the instalments focused on the main story arc.  Despite the revelation, a show set in the Doctor Who universe which largely ignores the benefits of that.  A lack of clear direction as to what the show is supposed to be having entirely ignored its initial mission statement of being about a group of precarious friends fighting whatever drops through the rifts in time.

Which isn't to say that bits of The Lost aren't just plain mediocre.  The opening teaser montage is frankly godawful, April's sub-Corrs dirge overpowering what should be some huge character beats in a way which suggests that we're watching the truncation of a much longer opening.  The unusual cynical motivating factor of parental murder.  Some of the performance histrionics are incredibly hard to take.  Even taking into the account the fact that people react to grief in different ways, crying simply isn't some actors forte notably when it reaches retching levels, especially when said actors range has otherwise extended to scowls and sarcasm.  The relationship scenes between characters are often rudimentary at best, lacking any sense of wit or reflection of real characters having believable emotions.

Despite the murders, budget limitations simply won't allow for the threat of the Shadow army on the populace to be properly extenuated.  Exactly how far this threat has spread isn't properly extenuated.  We're probably supposed to assume globally but this leads us to wonder why UNIT aren't dealing with all of this, or the remnants of Torchwood or the Attic Team or, well, you get the idea.  Given the level of danger involved, someone would and should have called the Doctor by now and here we are again with the shared universe problem.  It simply doesn't make sense for these teenagers to be left dealing with this threat in the manner with with the Doctor did, our suspension of disbelief unearned and the lack of any reference to him, even in the negative, at this moment, is frankly bizarre.  At least those other series have the good grace to try and explain his absence.

If there are any positives they're because Katherine Kelly has been perfectly cast even though she's now being hampered by a mystical pregnancy.  The all too brief training scenes between Quill and Tanya hint at a series which allows its characters to breath and simply enjoy one another's company, with such things working as a b-plot contrast to whatever the a-plot monster is.  You also can't argue with the show's impressive diversity, with not a single white cis male in sight; at a time when people who look like me even if they're nothing like me are in their racist ascendancy, it's genuinely important to have shows which represent the world as is could and should be and often is rather than pandering to the Caucasian patriarchal norm.  Much as I enjoyed 10 Cloverfield Lane last night, there's absolutely no reason why any or all of those three characters had to be from the same racial origin.

But none of this is enough.  The writer clearly wants us to be invested in the implications of opening the box and wreaking genocide on the shadows and there was some attempts at foreshadowing the moral dilemma in previous episodes but there's a reason why "Have I the right" works in Genesis.  The Doctor is an extremely moral person being asked to do a horrifying thing.  Here the Prince is essentially fighting against a mountain of selfish reasons not to.  He's already decided he has every right but numerous artificial narrative blocks are what's stopping him.  That makes him less than heroic - the script wants us to empathise with him even though he's generally come across as being a self-indulgent arsehole.  After a while it becomes actively annoying that he keeps delaying the inevitable, a blessed relief when he finally shoots Chekhov's gun.

Similarly we should feel something about the death of April.  But it's a female character suiciding herself so that a male character can do the heroic thing (even if, as we've discussed ...) which along with Quill's pregnancy somewhat undermines the show's otherwise "woke" qualities.  Plus since she is only one of the two younger female leads we have to know that she'll be brought back should the show be recommissioned.  And it's a cue for some more of that distracting histrionic acting.  Then having her resurrected in the body of the actual shadow king, whilst pleasingly bonkers in the Chibnallian sense, will obviously be resolved via some magic or other - transferring herself back into her own body, simply ending up there due to some undiscovered mental trap door or an external intervention.

There's a weird arrogance to all of this.  Class thinks its getting another series doesn't it?  Have they already been recomissioned thanks to the injection of cash from international investors?  BBC America have delayed broadcast which isn't a great sign and apparently the first couple of the episodes of the show didn't reach the top 50 on the iPlayer which means it's being watched by less than 185,000 viewers which given the first one has the Doctor's lengthy cameo, the lead character in what's supposed to be one of the cornerstones of BBC One's schedule over the Christmas and in the new year, something isn't working.  As I've said before, it's either poor advertising, a lack of interest from the people who should be, or the show not being good enough for people to want to recommend it to others.

Class will be on the iPlayer for another eleven months and there's still the television broadcast to come.  Perhaps it will find an audience now that it's entirely available to be binged through.  A second series could potentially be a better prospect.  Perhaps having run off most of the unrelatable backstory now, he'll allow his characters to become more likeable, less ambiguous.  The elements are here and if the intention is to embrace more qualities of the key mythology, that at least could make it feel essential, especially if they have any significance within the main series.  As it stands Class is a failed experiment, a self-defeating rudderless concoction presenting itself as a Doctor Who spin-off which for the most part is nothing of the sort.  Can you imagine if this doesn't get a second series?  What a stupid way to end things.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more. The mystical pregnancy made me roll my eyes so hard that they're now stuck in the back of my head and I might need surgery to get them back to normal tbh.