Class: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo

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Eh. I guess every new show has its misfires—especially one as experimental and innovative as Class. When I say “misfire”, I don’t mean that it was awful. It was fine. Just fine. It holds up. But it doesn’t particularly impress. It’s just “meh”.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of really great moments in there, moments which, for me, vindicate my excitement about this show and my belief in its potential. But the script as a whole falls a bit flat because, at base, it just wasn’t that interesting a story.

The monster, I felt, was poorly conceived and did not make for a particularly interesting plot. I got the impression that the episode was making up for the lack of engaging plotting that could be wrung out of the dragon-tattoo-monster by saturating the episode with gratuitous gore. Yes, I felt the gore was excessive; this may be a mature show, and some level of gore and horror is expected in a show like this, but on this occasion I think it traversed into the territory of vulgarity and detracted from the story. Furthermore, the episode’s denouement was confusing and felt very artificial. It was clearly supposed to represent the culmination of Ram’s emotional development over the course of the episode (which is why I say it felt artificial), but it was so contrived that, having watched the episode twice now, I’m still not quite sure what happened in that scene.

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Where this episode did well, though, was as a character piece about Ram Singh. You’ve got to feel for this boy. When we first met him he was, let’s be honest, a twat, but God he’s been put through some horrific trials in the intervening two episodes. It’s so unfortunate that he’s had to go through all that, but for better or worse it’s brought out the person Ram is inside, who’s clearly a person of great passion and feeling and sensitivity. He’s not just the arrogant football jock we took him for at the beginning of the first episode, it’s beginning to become more clear now that that’s a front he puts on. He obviously had deep feelings for his girlfriend as his (very well written) emotional turmoil in this episode showed. Moreover, in his insecurity about not being able to play football we learned that his connection to football is very much an emotional connection—football is inextricably part of his identity and his self-worth, which is why it means so much to him that he can start playing again. In this way the final scene between Ram and his father was beautiful, just astoundingly well-written and exactly the encouraging, hopeful note this episode should have ended upon.

Moreover, I’m really liking the budding Ram-Tanya relationship. They’re two such very different people whom you’d think unlikely ever to form any kind of meaningful relationship, but Tanya seems like the only person Ram can talk to and open up to about his feelings and insecurities. I find their relationship really, genuinely interesting and I anticipate that this—character writing and relationships—will be one of Class‘s greatest strengths. I already love all the characters and the character writing has been exceptional across the board so far. Even Miss Quill, definitely one of my favourite things about this show, who continues to be simultaneously hilarious as the show’s comic relief and really, really interesting as an enigmatic alien character with a mostly hidden backstory.

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You can’t necessarily blame a young, energetic new show like Class for its misfires. I didn’t expect the whole of the first series to be amazing, or even good. It’s still feeling its way forward, testing its strength, figuring out what it wants to be and what it’s good at. Both good and bad is bound to come out of this process and, to be fair, this isn’t bad at all. It’s certainly enjoyable enough and has its moments of brilliance. It’s not nearly as unfortunate as what came out of Doctor Who’s early days of experimentation (you know the episode I’m talking about). I just hope that in coming episodes we’re going to see the brilliant as well as the “meh”.

Rating: 6/10.

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