There is going to be a lot of the Doctor Who universe on BBC America this weekend with the April 15 premiere of the last season of Peter Capaldi as the eccentric Time Lord and the stateside debut of the teen spinoff Class.
Adding a wonderful and vibrant new companion to Capaldi’s swan song in Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), this 10th season of the relaunched Doctor Who is both a treat and disappointment. Both sides of that coin come out of the fact that, as Capaldi has displayed repeatedly since taking on the role of the twelfth Doctor in 2014, the actor and his Doctor are one of a kind. Certainly his caustic, always-borderline Time Lord is of the best and most distinctive versions of the constantly regenerated character since the series came back to life 2005 and actually since its first incarnation in 1963.
Whoever gets the gig has after Capaldi exits the global phenomenon that the show has become at the end of this year, the In The Loop actor, as I say in my video review above, will not be forgotten any time soon. Aided in his efforts and Dalek battles this time round by Mackie’s wide-eyed but sharp-thinking Potts and the return of the revamped Nardole (Matt Lucas), Season 10 of Doctor Who is one you should check out if you are an old fan or new to the much-vaunted franchise.
On the other hand, while it has a dash of Capaldi in its first episode, Class is a bit lost in time and space. Simply put, the eight-episode Patrick Ness-created young-adult series, which has already played in the UK, goes for gritty but often ends up just being unsmooth in the wrong ways – at least at the beginning.
Doctor Who aficionados will know the significant role that London’s fictional Coal Hill School, here renamed Coal Hill Academy, has played in the Time Lord series from the very beginning and over the years since. With that, the notion of setting up an ensemble series of its own on the school that sits on an interdimensional riff has great potential and made a lot of sense – which, unfortunately Class itself doesn’t until several episodes in.
While Class finds a stronger gait by its third episode and definitely improves, it is still, to use an expression of my English grandmother’s, “all over the shop.” With maybe a bit too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer for its own good, the series starring Greg Austin, Sophie Hopkins, Vivian Oparah and Fay Elsayed with Mr Selfridge alum Katherine Kelly can’t seem to find the right balance between fighting space and time invaders, organizing prom dates and, like so many series in its genre, learning from its mistakes onscreen and off.
“The passage of time is an illusion, and life is the magician,” says Capaldi’s Doctor in one of his Bristol-based university lectures in the Season 10 opener. “Life only lets you see one day at a time.” Well, with EP Steven Moffat also leaving the show at the end of this season, I have to say Peter Capaldi, your Doctor Who time was damn good and classy days and you will be missed for a long time.
Click on my video review of Season 10 of Doctor Who and the first season of Class above. Tell us what you think of Capaldi’s exit, Class’ arrival and whether you be watching on April 15 on BBC America.
This review originally ran on April 12.