The one-two punch of the third season of the 12th Doctor on BBC’s Doctor Who plus the new spin-off Class is the two-hour TV block sci-fi fans won’t want to miss this season. Last week witnessed the first episode of Peter Capaldi’s final season on Doctor Who, with Pearl Mackie as the new companion, a vibrant and refreshing character named Bill Potts. It also saw the premiere of Class, full of intrigue, exceptional actors, and great characterization for an introductory episode. Aliens and time travel fans should take note, as a fun ride is ahead this season.
It’s the 36th season for Doctor Who and tenth season since the 2005 reboot. Whovians who have fallen in love with Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman and their predecessors will find how easily Mackie slips into her role. After the sweetness and syrupy music over the past few seasons that supported Clara Oswald, the series was due for some fun and a break from the weight of emotion that Oswald’s plight brought to the Doctor. And Mackie’s Bill looks great, with a cool jean jacket full of flair and a wild shirts that fit in with the past styles of Doctor Who garb. And that hair! Bill provides a full character study in her first episode, “Pilot,” where an alien race of space oil beings seek out a star pilot in a woman who is the eye of Bill’s affection. The result is another creepy and brilliant Doctor Who villain that will hopefully surface again. Matt Lucas–who is hard to forget as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland–returns as Nardole, a part that is also quickly folding nicely into the show.
In the United States we had been offered up only the briefest teaser preview for the new Doctor Who spinoff TV series Class. With two stars of the Jeremy Piven star vehicle Mr. Selfridge in lead roles–the brilliant actress Katherine Kelly and the up-and-coming actor Greg Austin–the series was primed to be good, and episode one, “For Tonight We Might Die,” did not disappoint. As we had speculated earlier this year, the series seemed to be revealing what Doctor Who would look like with a woman playing the lead role. Katherine Kelly went head-to-head with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and proved she has the right stuff for the part. She’s perfect as a headstrong leader, and the younger leader played by Austin fills the niche that the companion would serve in the Who-niverse.
Class is not so much a teen-focused series as you’d find on the CW Network, with shows like Riverdale and Supergirl. This is a full-on sci-fi romp and the chemistry between the cast has already begun. Kelly and Austin have plenty of good banter, and Sophie Hopkins’ April seems like we’ve known her for years as she interacts with Austin’s Charlie and Vivian Oparah’s Tanya, as Tanya has her own long past relationship with Fady Elsayed’s Ram. The five make a good team that viewers will be excited to get to know as the second episode airs tonight, “The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo.”
Watch this season’s second episodes of Doctor Who and Class tonight on BBC America.