I know better than to judge a thing that isn't over yet, so I'm not saying this is my final, considered opinion about this week's Doctor Who. But...
Library! Library, library, library. I love me some library. Hey, they used some of their CGI budget! Alien planets all over the place this year. The monsters in this one were a bit cheap though.
I don't think I understand at all how the shadow things were supposed to work. People spent most of the episode in shadows (yeah, I know, not every shadow was eeeeeevil, but if being in shadow makes you vulnerable, more people should probably be dead). Sometimes shadows attached themselves to nothing, sometimes to people without killing them, and sometimes, uh, they animated corpses?
I'm not huge on creepy children, though Moffat's clearly working his way through the Encyclopedia of Creep. Clowns next time, right?
I'm not even a little worried about Donna; I think the "saved" thing is perfectly clear. (Well, okay, I'm not worried about Donna yet. &^#@%^& foreshadowing. I think they've hinted that she's going to diiiieeee in too anvillicious a way for her to actually diiiieeee, though. I expect her to open narration on the finale with "this is how I died," and it will turn out she broke a nail and she really hates breaking a nail, especially when it's really bad and it bleeds and everything.) I wandered off on a tangent early in the episode worrying that Moffat might actually imply that the entire thing takes place in a kid's imagination, but eventually I got it.
Donna did, though, feel a bit underused, and the shopping line didn't feel right for her at all. I'm not thrilled to see her put out of commission for however long she'll be out of commission. Though I sort of liked the Doctor being a git about trying to send her to safety. Also an excuse to slip the "emergency program" line in, because Moffat'll never heard the end of it for not making it clear in GITF that the TARDIS would have taken Rose and Mickey home. (I'd have found GITF more audacious if it had, and the Doctor caught back up with them after living through 200+ years. Tons of room for audio adventures later! Erm.)
(Hey, at least I didn't suggest he spend two thousand years buried alive to no apparent effect.)
I was really frustrated by the first ten minutes or so after the 'expedition' arrived. Nobody's reactions to anything seemed to make any sense, and that bit went on for years. The Doctor was talking like he knew what was going on, but he wouldn't be clear about what until a suitably dramatic moment later. I know they were trying to subvert expectations with most of the initial reactions, but I was just waiting for somebody to say, "Okay, we're talking at cross-purposes, let's start from the beginning." Which took too damned long.
Also, I completely failed to get the point of the Tooth and Claw homage. It sounded like it was going to be "aha! I've thought of something!" but it seemed to just be "aha! I'm going to make startling noises and be frustrated!" I was not following whether that or some other point was when the Doctor actually realized what the monsters were.
And I'm a bit disappointed in the supporting cast; I liked the existence of Other Dave, but nobody emerged as particularly personality-ful. Donna's relationship to the girl who got killed didn't quite do it for me. This episode put me a bit in mind of Impossible Planet, but in that one I actually remembered everybody's names. I'm not even sure how many people in spacesuits there were in this episode. There's somebody besides the Daves and River and the rich guy and his assistant, right?
But it's not that I didn't like the episode, because hey, library, and it managed to creep me out at several points, which is not easy. Deserted libraries, shadows, the 'ghost' thing -- Moffat managed to stop juuuuust short of the point where I'd have begun feeling ickily emotionally manipulated by the latter. Robotically calm voices saying "For God's sake, run." That sort of thing gets me. The whole thing was confident and atmospheric and I appreciate that it seems very skillful without being completely sure what I think of it yet. (My opinion of Human Nature, for example, is that it's objectively well done but I don't enjoy it at all, so it does happen.)
I'm withholding judgment extra hard on River Song, because the phrase 'really fucking annoying' comes to mind but I don't know what happens next week. I'm all in favor of tweaking the noses of fanboys, of course. I'm okay with playing with time and showing how wrong-footed it can feel to see someone behaving in a particular way without knowing the history of how they got there. But in a meta sort of way, we all know that that history hasn't really been written, so jumping straight to the result still feels like cheating. But, fine, the point here is what we don't know what happens/ed in the future/past, and the show generally could be a bit more imaginative with the use of time travel, so that's fair enough. Enough to hold me over till next Saturday, anyway.
The other thing giving me pause is that I read that this is an adaptation of sorts of a Moffat short story featuring Benny. Benny, I will readily admit, can come across as really annoying, but I like her. Some of her annoyingness depends on whether the writer is boiling her down to 'snarky, drinks a lot, sleeps around, fakes all her credentials' or is making something resembling an effort. I like her best in her diary excerpts, when we're furthest inside her head. Mostly when Paul Cornell's writing her, come to think of it. Portrayed onscreen, she'd probably be... oh dear. She'd be a bit like that, wouldn't she. And I really can't say that if she'd taken off her helmet and said, "Hi, I'm Benny Summerfield," I wouldn't have had a total fangasm and cut her several miles of slack.
Also, the next-time preview was actually funny, so I hereby declare myself content to wait for all information before delivering a final verdict. The last time I really trusted a writer to finish what they'd started and knock my socks off, it was... at the end of The Sound of Drums. That went well. Maybe Moffat'll restore my faith. I don't ask for much, do I?