Class episode 2: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo (22/10/2016)
‘He’s from Ofsted. Of course he’s evil.’ This is much better than the first episode, while being essentially the sequel to it as the characters (and specifically Ram) deal with the fall-out of events. It helps that the story is much more focused and disciplined, with the main plot exploring the consequences of Ram losing his leg and a lot of his self-confidence, distancing himself from the freaky friendships he started to make at the school disco and falling back on the relationships he has with the authority figures at home and on the sports field.
This heavy stuff is balanced by the light comedy of the side plot as Quill bridles at an Ofsted inspector she suspects of being something more sinister. It turns out she’s right: he’s a robot sent by the mysterious Governors. It’s lucky he turns out to be a fake, given her readiness, again, to sacrifice him to the rampaging dragon that connects this to the Ram plot.
There are some consciously “edgy” elements, like a shot of the coach’s nude bum in the shower, some gory deaths and ‘dickface’ as an insult which are meant to make this the gritty flipside of the Doctor’s Coal Hill adventures. The classmates deal with the toxic macho coach by persuading the dragon to drag him to hell – which April and Tanya are less comfortable with than Ram and Charlie, and it’s pleasing that they haven’t immediately fallen into a pattern of being tough alien hunters. I’m also a fan of the two-dragon twist (even if it’s a slight contrivance to help Ram articulate his own issues). Paired with For Tonight We Might Die, this made a good launch opportunity on BBC Three – which makes me even more perplexed at the balance of info dump in the first story with the characterisation in this.
Next Time: Nightvisiting