The original novel, which I have, features the seventh Doctor and Benny, a companion who appears in the books (and has her own series of audio plays). The tv episode is so far following the plot of the novel reasonably closely, with changes to fit the different circumstances of a different Doctor and companion.
More importantly, I liked it a lot.
Thanks to ellen_fremedon, I got to see it at WisCon, in one of the side rooms at the Dr. Who/Torchwood party, a bunch of us huddled around her laptop, occasionally bouncing and grabbing each other. Fun!
1. David Tennant is good. When he was playing Human John Smith, I had no doubt that he was not the Doctor. How did he do this? Repeated watching might help me identify how. My preliminary theory is that it's amperage. He's toned everything down, particularly the way he shows his emotions.
2. I liked that there was race consciousness, partly because I like seeing the issue addressed, but especially because this makes Martha's role in the plot more difficult, and thus way more interesting. In the book, Benny pretends to be the Doctor's niece, and pretty much gets away with flaunting all kinds of 1913 England social mores. I like this better.
3. Yay WWI stuff!
4. The group of us watching laughed hysterically every time we saw The Girl with the Red Balloon.
5. Shout-out! In Human John Smith's notebook of sf stories, there's a page of drawings of his past selves, which I am sure someone will frame-grab and post. I spotted Seven, I think, and I am sure I saw Eight. Eight! Rah!!! Canon for Paul McGann's physical appearance!