Last night the US saw this exciting special only one day after the UK got the chance, proving that it does not take a whole year for the reels to be paddled across the Atlantic in a rowboat as it seemed with previous imports... I digress. The first part of David Tennant's swansong as the Doctor held some fantastic moments and big surprises. Although some of the special effects were a little over done (is the Master going to join the X-Men?) and moments of music were a bit intrusive it is still fairly gripping. I wish it was going to play out in three parts however, then they wouldn't have to rush so much plot along, that is my only other negative- it felt a little crowded.
Bernard Cribbins returns as Donna's grandfather Wilf, funny, sympathetic and brave, helping fill the Doctor's empty companion slot in this episode. The highlight of the night was their scene in a small cafe where the Doctor sees Donna again through the window and confides to Wilf that he has done terrible things on his own (alluding to The Waters of Mars). It's rare to see the Doctor in such a vulnerable state. Of course John Simm as the Master is brilliantly terrifying after his resurrection goes horribly wrong. Simm and Tennant have an excellent scene together showing their acting prowess without upstaging each other.
Most importantly: the duel cliff-hanger ending. The Master converts every human being on earth into himself. I did not expect that, very nightmarish, I'll have to see how it pans out until I decide whether I love it or hate it. (Leaning towards hate, but hey, they could pull it together.) Simm does look nice in a dress however. The other cliffhanger is that the Timelords have returned. I was sort of expecting that honestly. What this means for the Doctor, the universe, the show, and how much the Master had to do with their return remains to be seen. Also, the mysterious "Lady in White" has cause much speculation.
The preview for the second part looks good, the Doctor seems to go through a bit of a beating if the shot of his face is any indication. There is also a clip of the Doctor, possibly for the first time ever, brandishing a gun in the preview. Uh-oh...
I can't give this a letter grade until I see its conclusion.