Doctor Who premiered a few days ago, and due to some connections in the UK I was able to snag a preview of it.
It was a bit silly, which happens in the first episode of the season, but it did a good job establishing how things will go. Spoilers ahoy!
First, as I suspected, Donna will be great. She'll still be irritating (in a good way), but she's grown a bit. She's not precisely the same person she was in the Christmas Special, but I suspect she'll lapse into her old ways on occasion. I'm glad she had her head together in this episode. Are the days of the screaming companion firmly behind us?
Second, I liked the alien menace in this, and I also liked how they treated the "children". When the Doctor lets them live, and Donna points out he's changed (due to Martha), it would have been nice to have him say something like "Well, these kids won't try to eat all the humans" or something along those lines. Still, nice. And the level of humor was great. Even Mrs. BA was enjoying herself watching it.
Third, the music was excellent as usual, though they reused a lot from the previous seasons. Nice to hear Donna's theme again! But I'm disappointed in the main opening theme; it lacks the scope and grandeur of the past three seasons. Still, the incidental music was fun, and I'm looking forward to the eventual release of the soundtrack (I recommend the previous two which are fantastic).
As for the BIG spoiler... I won't give it away here, but I will note that in the first season they had the Bad Wolf scenario already thought out early on (and Saxon as well in the third, dropping hints all season long), so the writers do plan well ahead of the game. Dropping in a hint now of how the season will go much later was pretty interesting. The BBC has the video of all this online at their site, too.
All in all, a firm start to the new series/season. I'm very excited to see it back on!