I’m not going to lie, I was very shocked when it was first announced that Image and the creative team for Deadly Class signed a deal to make this live-action television series possible. Not that you wouldn’t expect a show like Deadly Class to be good enough for live-action, but it is definitely out there in choices that spring to mind. I like that because it shows that networks are becoming bold and taking risks for more shows outside of superheroes. Syfy in particular is well-known now for taking such risks that pay-off, with Deadly Class being the most current to release. It was quite the treat for them as well to give us the pilot episode a month early.
With that said, my excitement for this series premiere was because I did read this book. Didn’t get too far because I was reading a lot of books at that time, but I got far enough that there was a lot to admire about the world created. As they said, Deadly Class is set against the backdrop of unsanitized 1980s counterculture. This is that point in time where the fun is in everything rebellious because of the madness created by the Raegan administration. From the start of the episode we are thrust into what this world looks like from the perspective of the homeless, disillusioned teen, Marcus. If it wasn’t the heartbreak understanding how he survived on the streets, there was the depressing exploration of how everyone else goes to great lengths to do the same.
The characters for Deadly Class were all pretty cool for the labels they threw themselves into that was sort of a thing around these times. Maybe not your cliche stereotypes if you were in school, but close enough with the twist of affiliations. The totem pole for Kings Dominion goes pretty deep for the kind of people brought together. Before we jump into that, there’s Marcus himself as the unaffiliated. Following his experience was interesting for the fact that this was a kid angry at the world, yet left wanting. How do you fill that void? As I said above, heartbreaking since the attitude he has is somewhat justified. I think what helps us engage us better in this story and plot is the idea that this kid who thinks he has everything figured out learns that he knows nothing. Not when there’s many more dangers to acknowledge outside of the president. As for the rest of the cast. I would say each of them gave you just enough to get interested in getting to know them. There’s obviously a lot more to figure out about some of them, and its great to know that the episodes to come will have the room to flesh them out over time. Especially those who have motivations in this academy that are unknown.
I would say the same extends to the Master Lin as the ruthless, no-nonsense headmaster of King’s Dominion. We understood very quickly why he is labelled no-nonsense, but more than that we are left wanting to know what his end game is with the students he is trying to mold or manipulate.
When as a reader you know that this begins with Marcus being snatched up as a candidate to join this secret academy for the Deadly Arts, everything came down to what would get him from point A to point B. What got Marcus from the streets to Kings Dominion was a great transition of scenes. We got ourselves a satisfying taste of what this series had in store for us when the kids jumped into action to pick-up Marcus. Some of these students have skills that make them stand out from the rest. Nothing mindblowing, but something that makes them skilled in the deadly arts. The atmosphere was exciting because everything played out fluently. You could tell who had a part to play, but you never knew who was a major player until the time came for introductions.
This first episode was for the most part introductions, though a few side stories were set in motion at the same time. I wasn’t expecting a main plot to form just yet, so the most they needed to accomplish was setting a foundation for everything to progress from. Upon entering Kings Dominion, it didn’t take to long to understand the kind of obstacles that Marcus would have to overcome. If it wasn’t the assignments that they would have to complete for their classes, there was the trouble that the students could bring to each other. That kind of drama is predictable, but it also adds to the atmosphere of an academy where everyone is a killer. There was just enough close encounters that some of these students had with each other to establish the kind of threat they all pose. There was also enough seen to show where the experience at this academy can be fun. I do hope that they take advantage of when those rare moments might take place.
The Deadly Class pilot “Reagan Youth” made it that much harder to wait for the series to actually begin next month. This is not your average teenage story where the kids get into trivial fights. This academy and this world captures a struggle to survive day-to-day. Deadly Class is just as the title suggests. Nothing more and nothing less. Can any of them really use their skills to change the world for the better? That’s what we’ll find out!