Series 5 (April 20 - May 4 (evens), May 6 - May 10)

April 20: "The Eleventh Hour"
April 22: "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" [Additional Scene #1] / "The Beast Below"
April 24: "Victory of the Daleks"
April 26: "The Time of Angels"
April 28: "Flesh and Stone"
April 30: "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" [Additional Scene #2] / "The Vampires of Venice"
May 2: "Amy's Choice"
May 4: "The Hungry Earth"
May 6: "Cold Blood"
May 7: "Vincent and the Doctor"
May 8: "The Lodger"
May 9: "The Pandorica Opens"
May 10: "The Big Bang"

April 20: "The Eleventh Hour"

DVD and Blu-ray releases
So.  A new producer and a new cast, but the same show as ever, as "The Eleventh Hour" makes clear in its opening moments, as the TARDIS is crashing towards Earth after the events at the end of The End of Time.  Even in this scene you get the sense that things will be OK with this new Doctor, as he struggles back inside the TARDIS and then relaxes for a moment, until the TARDIS goes out of control again.

And then it's straight into the brand-new title sequence, with a new arrangement of the theme tune (although, other than being in a higher key, it's not actually that much different from the last one) and a new logo.  The sequence looks oddly retro, with the cloud time vortex and the lightning bolts -- it's not hard to imagine this being the sort of titles Doctor Who might have had in the '90s.  The DW TARDIS logo is kind of cheesy, though.

But as I said, other than such overt changes, this largely looks like business as usual for the show. Visually this isn't much different from the previous stories -- we're not talking about a sea change as large as the one between The Horns of Nimon/Shada and The Leisure Hive, and with Murray Gold still providing the music, the sense of continuity between the two eras is reinforced.  No, where the differences happen is in the details, the emphasis.  Russell T Davies, in some respects, pitched Doctor Who toward teenage girls; Steven Moffat, by contrast, is explicitly targeting children, with the expectation that everyone else will happily go along for the ride.

The most obvious occurrence of this is Amelia Pond, the little girl who encounters the newly-regenerated Doctor after he crash-lands in her garden.  We learn almost immediately that this Doctor is incredibly comfortable with children and that children are comfortable with him, and that there's a sense of magic at hand.  It's this sense of magic and wonder that sustains "The Eleventh Hour" -- it's only the first episode for the new team (well, all right, first broadcast -- it's actually the fourth episode they made), and already that sense of supreme confidence that pervaded David Tennant's final hours is here in full force.  Steven Moffat's given us a great script to latch on to, one that plays with time travel a bit but makes it firmly about the effect of the Doctor on a little girl's life, as this crazy man whirls into her life and then disappears for twelve years.  "The Eleventh Hour" is never worried that the audience will have a tough time with any of this, and it's right not to: this makes perfect sense.

One other contrast that's clear fairly early is that Matt Smith is a huge presence in this episode.  "The Christmas Invasion" had David Tennant removed from much of the action, but here they know that we're getting a brand new cast, so they wisely make the Doctor front and center and have everything revolving around him -- and while he's "still cooking", he seems more or less settled early on.  ("Well, that's much better," the Doctor says at one point, after Amy's hit him with a cricket bat.  "Brand new me.  Whack on the head, just what I needed.")  In this regard it's a lot like Tom Baker's debut, which established the fourth Doctor pretty quickly and then let him get on with it.  We get a similar thing here.

"Hello.  I'm the Doctor.  Basically... run."  The new Doctor warns
the Atraxi away. ("The Eleventh Hour") ©BBC
And let's be clear: Matt Smith is amazing in this -- he's absolutely the Doctor almost from the word go, and his ability to play both drama and comedy (sometimes at the same time) is perfectly attuned to the show.  It's not hard to see why they cast him, but he's incredibly watchable in every scene.  It helps that he's been given some good material -- discussing the crack in Amelia's wall, convincing Jeff that he has to be great to help save the world, being incredibly dismissive of Prisoner Zero's attempt to disguise itself as him ("Well, that's rubbish.  Who's that supposed to be?" he says.  "It's you," Rory replies bemusedly.  "Me?  Is that what I look like?" the Doctor asks surprisedly), and calling the Atraxi back just so he can tell them to clear off... Matt Smith does it all and makes it look easy.

None of this is to denigrate the other cast members -- Karen Gillan more than holds her own as Amy Pond, and Arthur Darvill is wonderfully grounded as Rory ("Did he just bring them back?" he asks no one in particular.  "Did he just save the world from aliens and then bring all the aliens back again?") -- but "The Eleventh Hour" is wholeheartedly about this new Doctor, about the effect he had on a little girl and how he's definitely still the same man he was.  The sequence at the end, with all the Doctors in sequence followed by the eleventh, merely confirms what we already know.  It's hard to think of a better debut than this one, in terms of doing everything they need to do and doing it with such style.  This episode is an absolute knockout -- and it's only the first one!

April 22: "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" [Additional Scene #1] / "The Beast Below"

We start out with a scene designed to link "The Eleventh Hour" with "The Beast Below" (which technically wasn't released until the DVD/Blu-Ray box set was released, but as it's meant to go here we'll watch it here).  It's sort of cute, I guess, but it also seems completely unnecessary; we get more babbling from Amy as she tries to process what she's seeing, as well as a slight continuity hiccup (as the Doctor tells her here that he's an alien, yet she seems surprised by this in "The Beast Below"), and while it's nice to see her reaction to being in space, there's not much beyond this.  But I suppose there's only so much they can do, inserting a scene where one didn't need to go, and as long as you weren't buying the box set solely for this scene, it's probably all right.

The Doctor and Amy explore Starship UK. ("The Beast Below")
"The Beast Below", on the other hand, is much more interesting.  The UK (minus Scotland) evacuated the planet after solar storms threatened the place in the 29th century (in what's almost certainly a reference to The Ark in Space214), and we get a chance to see this new Doctor in his element, flexing his muscles and learning the dark secret behind Starship UK.

Except this is the Matt Smith story that it's probably easiest to imagine David Tennant in. All the things writer Steven Moffat's given the eleventh Doctor are the sorts of things you would expect the tenth Doctor to do (with the possible exception of comforting a crying child, and even then it's more a matter of emphasis than new personality).  It's easy to picture David Tennant gently pointing out to Liz 10 how old her mask is, or him raging against humanity for what they've done to the star whale.  This doesn't make it a bad story or anything like that, but it does make it slightly harder for Matt Smith to really set himself from his immediate predecessor.  He turns in a great performance, and if you were worried about the new boy you can rest easy, but they're not exactly going out of their way to give us a uniquely eleventh Doctor story (the way, say, Paradise Towers seems like a story designed for Sylvester McCoy).

Fortunately the central storyline is a good one, so it's not like they're selling Matt Smith short, as we're presented with an odd conspiracy that everyone is complicit in, although they can't remember that they are.  But we get the spirit of democracy, as everyone gets to either protest the treatment of the star whale or forget about the whole thing.  It's a nice little conceit, particularly as even the people who are investigating the truth behind Starship UK -- namely Liz 10 (and look, it's Sophie Okonedo, who you might remember was Alison Cheney in Scream of the Shalka) -- are going through the same motions as before, choosing to forget when they finally discover the truth.  There are also nice little touches that add to the feeling of a coherent world, from the bunting everywhere to the offhand reference to Scotland having set off on their own to the Starship UK logo that's designed to resemble one of the old BBC logos.  Thought and care has gone into this, to the point where it's very hard to actually poke holes in any of it, either in story terms or in visual terms.

Of course, another reason why it doesn't really matter that we don't get a showcase for the new Doctor is that this is a showcase for the new companion instead.  We see Amy not as the perfect companion but instead as a human one, one who's both made a mistake -- who's seen the history of Starship UK and has chosen not only to forget but also to try and keep the Doctor from discovering the truth, so that he doesn't have to make a decision about what to do -- and who's done what the Doctor said earlier, to observe.  It's this that brings her to (it turns out) the right conclusion, to stop forcing the star whale to fly Starship UK because the star whale wanted to help in the first place.  Amy makes the right decision, just by observing not just Starship UK but also the Doctor:
DOCTOR: Amy, you could have killed everyone on this ship.
AMY: You could have killed a star whale.
DOCTOR: And you saved it.  I know, I know.
AMY: Amazing though, don't you think?  The star whale.  All that pain and misery and loneliness, and it just made it kind.
DOCTOR: But you couldn't have known how it would react.
AMY: You couldn't.  But I've seen it before.  Very old and very kind, and the very, very last.  Sound a bit familiar?

"The Beast Below" isn't a flashy story, and we don't get much of an insight into what makes the eleventh Doctor different from the tenth, but what we do get is a solid, well-thought-out tale designed to appeal to our sense of wonder as it shows that Amy Pond has the right stuff to be the Doctor's companion.  It's a story that can make us both ashamed and proud to be human.  Not bad for only their second outing.

(Oh, and look... another crack, shaped just like the one in Amelia's bedroom...)

April 24: "Victory of the Daleks"

Despite the fact that what we've gotten onscreen so far has seemed to be largely business as usual, despite the change-over, there have been signs that the new production team want to be seen as a bold new beginning.  Part of this was the (frankly bizarre) insistence that Matt Smith's first series would be known as series 1, rather than series 5 (although almost no one, including the BBC marketing people, took them up on this), but now we're presented with another change: that of the Daleks.

The Doctor confronts the new Dalek paradigm. ("Victory of the
Daleks") ©BBC
This isn't necessarily a disaster in the making -- after all, the new titles, sonic screwdriver, and TARDIS interior (and exterior, a bit) are all similar reenvisionings without too much trouble -- but the problem with "Victory of the Daleks" is that it ultimately feels like that's all there is to this episode.  They give us a story set during the Blitz with Winston Churchill (played admirably by Ian McNeice), and instead of exploring this at all, we get a remake of The Power of the Daleks instead.  I mean, I suppose if you're going to remake old Who stories, start with the best, but while it's effectively surreal to hear Daleks saying things like, "Would you care for some tea?", and they look surprisingly good in their olive khaki paintjob, we don't get the same payoff here as we did in the Troughton story.  Instead of holding back the Daleks only to unleash them at the end while the humans are busy infighting, here their big plan is to, er... get the Doctor to confirm that they're actually Daleks.  It's not the most exciting thing ever, and the new Daleks we get as a result are problematic.  Even setting aside the designer color scheme (which I don't really mind), the new design just seems clunkier.  I think they were probably going for "more powerful", but what they actually ended up with is "fat".  I doubt that they were actually designed purely to sell more toys, but it does rather look that way, with the bright colors and the overt plastic look.

But again, just because they've come up with a crap design for their brand-new Daleks, that doesn't mean the episode is bad.  No, that comes as a result of what looks like the result of too few drafts for the script.  Why else would we get Spitfires retrofitted with fancy new technology in the space of a few minutes (that itself seems to be purely theoretical twenty minutes earlier) just so they can dogfight with the Dalek saucer?  Why do we get a bomb that is literally defused by the power of love?  As with much of the rest of the script, this seems to have been thrown together with an eye toward "what would look cool?", rather than "what would make any bit of sense?"  It also doesn't help that there's a distinct sense of unresolved business at the end of this; rather than the Daleks being defeated -- or even the Doctor being defeated, which, despite what he says, doesn't seem to be the case -- they head off at the end, leaving the sense that they're going to show up in a major way down the line.  If they actually had this might be OK, but while we've had subsequent Dalek stories, none of them have remotely felt like the follow-up to this.

Any good things?  Matt Smith continues to impress, with the Jammie Dodger bit being a nice highlight that contrasts well with his attack on the Dalek soldier -- "Kill me!" he yells at the Dalek, and while it's not quite on the same level as David Tennant's similar performance in "Evolution of the Daleks", it's still very good.  Ian McNeice, as I said before, is well-suited to the role of Churchill, and Bill Paterson does an excellent job in the rather thankless role of Professor Bracewell.  The curiosity of how Amy has no memory of the events of "The Stolen Earth" / "Journey's End" is handled well, and the appearance of another crack ties in nicely with that.

But if they wanted to update the Daleks with a bang, they've failed rather miserably.  It's telling that, while these new Paradigm Daleks don't disappear completely, they fade into the background in favor of the RTD-era design -- suggesting that even the production team realized this was a mistake.  If they'd had a story that hadn't had that reveal as its centerpiece, "Victory of the Daleks" might have been OK.  If they'd actually gone further down the road of remaking The Power of the Daleks, it might have been OK.  If they'd done anything risky and clever, such as exploring Churchill's character or the Doctor's hatred of the Daleks, instead of merely opting for things that look good, it might have been OK.  But they didn't, and so it's not.

April 26: "The Time of Angels"

What's particularly impressive about "The Time of Angels" is that this is Matt Smith's first performance as the Doctor, production-wise, as like Christopher Eccleston he got a chance to simply play the Doctor before having to be introduced as him.  This is impressive because there's nothing here to suggest that Smith is in any way unsure of what he's doing or how to approach the character -- he is emphatically the Doctor, fully formed and ready to step in and save the day.

It helps, of course, that he's been given such a good script to work with.  This episode might strike Steven Moffat's best balance yet between flashy, quick-fire moments and longer scenes of slowly mounting dread, as both are on equal display here.  And so we get the bravado opening, with River trusting that the Doctor will rescue her from the Byzantium215 (albeit after getting the message 12,000 years in the future) as she ejects herself into space -- but we also get the quiet moments in the Maze of the Dead, as the small exploration party nervously checks the shadows and all the statues for the Weeping Angel.  This leads to the frankly marvellous realization that all the statues are Weeping Angels that are slowly waking up, thanks to the radiation leaking from the crashed spaceship.

"The image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel." ("The Time of
Angels") ©BBC
But then this episode is full of clever moments like this.  There's the idea of how the image of an Angel becomes an Angel, which means that you can't even take a picture of them without it trying to kill you, and the related idea that Angels can essentially reproduce by placing the idea of themselves in your mind, done by looking into their eyes.  There's the fantastic throwaway mention of the last time the Doctor faced down the Angels, but "those were scavengers, barely surviving"; if the Angels in "Blink" were on the verge of death and able to do what they did, then what must an Angel in its prime be like?  The thought is terrifying.  And there's the horrifying yet fascinating use of Scared Bob's voice by the Angels to taunt the Doctor, to make it clear that the Doctor couldn't save him and therefore he won't be able to save the rest.

And we can't talk about this episode without mentioning River Song.  Alex Kingston turns in another fabulous job here, and the moments in the TARDIS are particularly fun, as they show a cheekier side to her before she has to join up with the Church's army and become the River we already know from her debut story.  There are some lovely gags about her knowing how to fly the TARDIS better than the Doctor and how museums are his way of keeping score, but what's particularly great is the chemistry between Alex Kingston and Matt Smith.  Smith chooses to play the Doctor as grumpy and bad-tempered, while Kingston goes for flirtatious.  It shouldn't really work, but it does because these are two actors who clearly already respect each other and are willing to give the scenes space.  It's also great how well they work together when things become serious (such as when Amy is trapped with the image of the Angel), putting aside any differences they might have to work as a well-oiled team.

There's frankly tons to adore about this episode (and it's only the first part!) -- it's put together so well that it remains compelling viewing even when you know the twists that are coming.  This is full of fabulous performances and wonderful imagery, with just the right amount of tension to keep you worried.  The final opinion will partially hinge on how well they can wrap this up next time, but as of right now it would be hard to find a better or more effective episode than what "The Time of Angels" accomplishes in its 45 minutes.

April 28: "Flesh and Stone"

So the resolution of the cliffhanger (where the Doctor shoots the gravity globe) allows not only our heroes to gain a new perspective on things but also the audience, as we move from the stony Maze of the Dead to the forested oxygen factory aboard the Byzantium.  Thus this story really is a game of two parts, and not only does the setting change but so does the emphasis.  Before it was a relatively straightforward thriller about being surrounded by Weeping Angels, but now they've added the extra element of the Crack in Time, which distorts the second half of the story around it.

The Doctor faces the Weeping Angels. ("Flesh and Stone") ©BBC
As such, Steven Moffat cleverly balances both the Weeping Angels and this new threat in this episode -- it gives the Angels a motivation to take over the Byzantium and a reason as to why they're getting stronger and stronger.  It's a big idea that works very well, and as we see the power and effects of the Crack, how it can unwrite people from time and make it so they never existed, it becomes just as much of a danger as the Angels -- perhaps even more so, as even the Angels become terrified of its power.  And if the Weeping Angels are scared of something, it must be something very worrying indeed.

But the best thing that Moffat manages is to have two equally dangerous threats menacing the Doctor and company and still have time for quiet, creepy moments.  Amy slowly counting down is very effective -- particularly if you don't notice it right away -- and the matter-of-fact way in which Church soldiers are wiped from existence (with the remaining soldiers confused by Amy's insistence that used to be more of them) is well handled.  There's also something wonderfully magical and smart about the idea of trees enhanced with technology being used to create oxygen for a spaceship.  And then, just to show how much he's thought things through, Moffat also includes the goof-that-isn't, as the scene of the Doctor talking to Amy while wearing the jacket (despite having just lost it to the Weeping Angels) is actually clever foreshadowing for the series 5 finale.

That last moment there might sum up "The Time of Angels" / "Flesh and Stone" -- it's a supremely confident move, to hide a piece of foreshadowing in such a way as to make everyone think for eight weeks that they just screwed up the continuity rather than its genuine purpose.  But that's the general attitude that pervades this story, one of deftly juggling the various pieces and resolving them in a way that not only feels perfectly clever and appropriate (dropping all the Angels into the Crack, which causes it to seal itself up) but also highlights the larger arc of the series in a way we haven't quite seen yet -- and it does it in a way that doesn't necessarily require you to have paid attention.  If you don't care about series 5's overarching plot, there's still more than enough here to maintain interest, with loads of creepiness and tense moments on display, and it's all done with skill and care in a way that makes something that was surely reasonably difficult to pull off look easy.  It doesn't have quite the same impact as its predecessor "Blink", but "The Time of Angels" / "Flesh and Stone" is possibly the better story -- it's certainly the more sophisticated of the pair, and it frequently feels more satisfying.

April 30: "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" [Additional Scene #2] / "The Vampires of Venice"

When we last saw Amy and the Doctor, Amy had some serious misunderstandings about the relationship between her and the Doctor.  This bonus scene takes place immediately after that, as the Doctor tries to explain to Amy why he takes companions along with him, which leads to Amy's accusations that, despite the Doctor's claims that he's like a "space Gandalf", he generally seems to take pretty girls along with him.  This is a better scene than the other series 5 bonus scene, because not only does it actually provide a smoother transition between the end of "Flesh and Stone" and the start of "The Vampires of Venice", but they also get a chance to flash a whole bunch of previous female companions on the screen.  "Thanks, dear," the Doctor says to the TARDIS.  "Miss out the metal dog, why don't you?"  It's a quick, charming scene.

"The Vampires of Venice" introduces a new angle for the show: it starts questioning the Doctor's actions and whether the good he does outweighs the bad that he leaves in his wake.  This is sort of new thinking; the 20th-century version never even considered the question (not even during Andrew Cartmel's script-editorship)217, but it's the sort of subject the novels during the Wilderness Years -- especially Virgin's New Adventures -- grappled with quite a bit.  Russell T Davies chose to ignore this particular line of questioning, and when it was brought up, the answer was generally "of course he's worth it."  (Indeed, it's worth noting that the only story during Davies' era to dispute this position is "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" -- as exemplified in Joan's last question to the Doctor: "If the Doctor had never visited us, if he'd never chosen this place on a whim, would anybody here have died?" -- which is a New Adventure adapted for the screen.)  But now Steven Moffat's at the helm, and so the rules have changed a bit.

It's going to get a bit tedious in series 6, but here the question is far more interesting.  Writer Toby Whithouse starts with Rory, having seen a bit of what the Doctor's life is like and heard about more of it from Amy, laying an accusation against the Doctor: "You know what's dangerous about you?" he says.  "It's not that you make people take risks, it's that you make them want to impress you.  You make it so they don't want to let you down.  You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around."  It's a valid point and it's easy to see Rory's point of view here.  What's more, the Doctor seems to see it too, so he orders Amy back to the TARDIS ("We don't discuss this.  I tell you to do something, Amy, and you do it.  Huh?") for Rory's benefit.  But then after Amy and Rory's fight with the unmasked Francesco (and we should pause a moment to ask how, exactly, Amy was able to turn him into dust with a beam of sunlight -- even setting aside the fact that it appears to be a dreary, overcast day in Venice, hasn't Rosanna just switched on her storm machine and filled Venice's sky with clouds anyway?), we see that Rory has changed his mind:
DOCTOR: Get out.  I need to stabilise the storm.
RORY: We're not leaving you.
DOCTOR: Right, so one minute it's all "you make people a danger to themselves", and the next it's "we're not leaving you".
It's a satisfying resolution to the question, because not only does it provide an internal answer for Rory, but one for the audience as well: yes, the Doctor might be dangerous, but he's doing the right thing, and so his companions are doing the right thing too, even if it's dangerous for them as well.

Saturnyn sisters in human form. ("The Vampires of Venice") ©BBC
That's the deeper question at the heart of "The Vampires of Venice", but it's wrapped in a really smashing layer of excitement and fun.  One thing that stands out is how much fun this episode is.  From the opening gag of the Doctor bursting out of a cake at Rory's stag party and then telling Rory that Rory's lucky because Amy's a good kisser ("Funny how you can say something in your head and it sounds fine..."), to the various one-liners scattered throughout the script ("Tell me the whole plan. (pause) One day that will work"; "Yours is bigger than mine."  "Let's not go there"; "I saw her; they're not vampires, they're aliens." "That's good news?  What is wrong with you people?"; and many more), to the great sight gag of Guido wearing Rory's stag shirt so that Rory can wear his clothes, "The Vampires of Venice" is simply bursting with energy and wit.  There's also some cleverness on display: the Doctor can't see the girls' reflections in the mirror because the perception filters the girls are using "manipulates the brainwaves of the person looking at you.  But seeing one of you for the first time in, say, a mirror, the brain doesn't know what to fill the gap with, so leaves it blank, hence no reflection."  It's a nice little spin on the old "vampires don't have reflections" bit.  Ooh, and a little in-joke, as the Doctor flashes his psychic paper at the girls and we see it's William Hartnell's face on the card.  It's also gorgeous to look at (even if the weather is overcast) -- they've gone overseas to Croatia in order to recreate 16th century Venice, and the result is really nice, with lots of old stone buildings and squares for the camera to take in. 

It may occasionally feel derivative, with more displaced aliens (although this time because of the Cracks in Time and something called the Silence -- although the moment at the very end where it's suddenly silent in Venice doesn't seem to match with what we later learn about the Silence) and more aliens in human guise (Whithouse did this in his last Who script ("School Reunion") as well as his Torchwood script "Greeks Bearing Gifts")), but that's hardly the worst of sins.  What is clear is that "The Vampires of Venice" is a fun time with a thoughtful question at its heart, and that's just fine by me.

May 2: "Amy's Choice"

This is a story that they've sort of been building to for a while now -- although half of the buildup has been off-screen -- but now, as the title makes clear, it's time for Amy to make a decision: the Doctor, who plucked her up the day before her wedding to show her the universe; or Rory, the man she intends to marry, the man who she's known for years and thus presumably has a pretty good reason for wanting to spend the rest of her life with?

The Dream Lord inside the TARDIS. ("Amy's Choice") ©BBC
It's really a quite clever script from Simon Nye, with its constantly shifting settings linked by a simple proposition: one of these settings is a dream and one is reality, and all they have to do is work out which.  It would be a clever idea even without the presence of Toby Jones's Dream Lord to spur things along.  But because Jones is there to needle our heroes with some sharp barbs and wonderful caustic wit as he appears and disappears like the Cheshire Cat, this becomes something special.  "If you had any more tawdry quirks you could open up a Tawdry Quirk Shop," he tells the Doctor.  "The madcap vehicle, the cockamamie hair, the clothes designed by a first-year fashion student.  I'm surprised you haven't got a little purple space dog just to ram home what an intergalactic wag you are."

One of the great things about "Amy's Choice" is about how they take a sleepy village and drop a zombie movie into it.  But, in a wonderful, gloriously mad twist, the zombies are all elderly pensioners, who're stumbling around like zombies not because they have aliens in their bodies, but because they're old, and so they just can't move very fast anymore.  Scenes like a group of them converging on Rory and Amy's cottage are simultaneously hilarious and more than a bit unnerving.  Making the Doctor, Amy, and Rory fall asleep at inopportune moments simply adds to the tension that this part of the plot provides.

Ultimately, however, this episode comes down to the choice Amy has to make.  She's presented with two different possible realities: one that appears to be the Doctor's ideal reality, aboard the TARDIS traveling the universe; and one that's Rory's ideal reality, happily married and living in a quiet English village (at least until the Eknodines show up).  But Amy doesn't play by the rules -- she chooses the Doctor's reality, but because of Rory, not the Doctor.  It's not that she doesn't want to be settled with Rory, it's that she can't bear the thought of living without him, after he undergoes what will prove to be his first death during the series.  And so she's made her choice: Rory over the Doctor.

The twist at the end, that both realities were actually dreams ("Star burning cold?  Do me a favour"), is a satisfying resolution, and it's also a good move to make the Dream Lord the darker aspects of the Doctor -- something the Doctor seemed to have already worked out ("Drop it. Drop all of it. I know who you are," the Doctor tells the Dream Lord.  "No idea how you can be here, but there's only one person in the universe who hates me as much as you do").  It provides some fascinating insights into the Doctor's character without explaining too much or seeming too dark; instead it's subtle, and it's better that way.

There are so many good elements going into "Amy's Choice" (the two dreams plot, the zombie pensioners, Toby Jones) that it's hard not to adore the final result.  This is a well-balanced script aided by excellent performances and some fine direction.  It's a shame that Simon Nye hasn't to date written for the series again, as this is a excellent episode in a series that's shaping up to be truly excellent.  "Amy's Choice" is charming and weird and great fun.

May 4: "The Hungry Earth"

This episode, more than any other in recent memory, may be the hardest to judge, simply because it's emphatically the first part of a 2-part story.  Other Part One's have tended to go for setting up a story and then exploring the setting along the way, electing to either change things or increase the stakes at the cliffhanger.  Even something like "The Stolen Earth", which is almost pure set-up for their climactic series 4 finale and thus probably the closest relative to "The Hungry Earth", has action sequences and loads of familiar characters for the audience to latch on to.

"The Hungry Earth", by contrast, is going for the slow burn.  It clearly has a lot of old Doctor Who in its DNA -- most obviously Doctor Who and the Silurians, but also stories like Inferno, Frontios and, to a lesser extent, The Dæmons and Warriors of the Deep.  There's nothing wrong with mixing and matching old stories to see what comes out, but because writer Chris Chibnall is delaying much of the action until the next episode, it's somewhat hard to judge how successful this remix is.

One thing that's a tad disappointing is the new look of the Silurians (or whatever we're calling them now220), as they look incredibly human.  I sort of understand why they did it (so that the actors under the makeup can use their faces to act), but it's frankly rather jarring to see a race that we've previously seen as looking only vaguely humanoid to go to almost full homo sapiens.  They don't even give us a third eye anymore, instead providing a long venomous tongue instead.  I'm sure this probably falls more under "grumpy fan" than an actual independent problem, but it's still a bit of a disappointment.

The Doctor and Nasreen gaze upon the Silurian settlement. ("The
Hungry Earth") ©BBC
Of course, countering this, the moments in the caves near the end of the episode are really good -- the caves themselves look good, and the cliffhanger reveal of the size of the Silurian settlement ("We're looking for a small tribal settlement," the Doctor says optimistically before he's confronted by the actual thing.  "Ah.  Maybe more than a dozen," he remarks) is cool, even if it's not exactly the most exciting cliffhanger ever.  The way Amy is sucked into the ground is also really well done, even if it's incredibly reminiscent of Frontios (but they do a better job here), and there's some lovely interplay among all the characters -- particularly the Doctor, as he chats with Elliot, speaks with Alaya the captured Silurian warrior ("I'm not going to let you provoke a war, Alaya," he tells her; "there'll be no battle here today" (so there's a touch of Battlefield here too)), and later exhorts Ambrose, Tony, and Rory to be "the best of humanity".  "No dissecting!  No examining!" he tells them.  "We return their hostage, they return ours.  Nobody gets harmed.  We can land this, together, if you are the best you can be.  You are decent, brilliant people.  Nobody dies today.  Understand?"

But ultimately, "The Hungry Earth" puts a lot of pressure on its follow-up to really deliver.  We can see a lot of homages to old stories and a lot of buildup for the second half, but there's not much else there.  That's not really a bad thing (after all, we don't judge, say, The Caves of Androzani based solely on its first (two) episode(s)), but it does mean that the pay-off needs to be worthwhile.  What is there isn't bad, so there's promise for "Cold Blood", but we'll have to wait to know for certain.

May 6: "Cold Blood"

So the resolution of this two-parter isn't quite as magnificent as it perhaps could have been, but it's not exactly a disappointment either.  Chris Chibnall's turned in a hodgepodge of old Who and turned it into something solid rather than spectacular.

Broadly, this is little more than a remake of Doctor Who and the Silurians, with human activities underground inadvertently awakening a dormant group of Silurians, who decide they want the planet back.  We get the same sort of infighting among the Silurian factions, and the problem is ultimately solved by sealing the tunnels back up.  But where it differs is in the emphasis, and in some of the human characters.  The biggest difference is probably represented by the character of Ambrose, who's terrified at the thought of losing her grandfather after having lost her husband and son to these strange creatures.  She's a desperate woman, and as a result she is, as the Doctor puts it, "so much less than the best of humanity".  Her actions, however, are carefully calculated so as not to appear ruthless or (sorry) cold-blooded, but rather as a situation that escalated too quickly and went terribly wrong in the death of Alaya (who, let's be honest, was probably looking for an excuse to be a martyr and thus provoke a war), and which she now has to try and make the best of.  It's not pleasant or comfortable, and I doubt anyone watching is on Ambrose's side, but you can see how she got to this point.

The Doctor asks the representatives of the Silurians and
humanity to negotiate a peace. ("Cold Blood") ©BBC
On the opposing side, the character of Restac (played by the same actress as Alaya, Neve McIntosh) fulfills the role of the young Silurian from the Pertwee serial, and she seems just as willing to wipe out the ape infestation on the surface -- albeit with a show of force rather than a deadly virus.  She even goes so far as to gun down the scientist Malohkeh, much how the young Silurian killed the old Silurian.  One does get the impression that, regardless of whether or not Alaya had survived and the Silurian elder Eldane (as played by Stephen Moore, the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android from the radio and TV versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) had been able to broker a peace, the result would have largely been the same, thanks to Restac's actions.  It does mean, however, that both sides, humans and Silurians, have differing factions that represent the best and worst of both -- which, one suspects, was the point of the exercise, that humanity can be just as much a monster as the "monsters" seen on the show.

So it's not a letdown, and as far as remakes go it does manage to provide some interesting new elements to make this story seem not wholly derivative (and it's streets ahead of the other remake this series, "Victory of the Daleks").  It also introduces the Silurians into the modern era, even if no one else to date has taken them up on this (save for the character of Madame Vastra, who pops up periodically after this).  For anyone who hadn't seen the stories this is based on, this likely had some interesting twists and turns along the way, and the revelation that there were dinosaur people on the planet before humanity evolved may have been intriguing to those viewers.  But for those who had, there's a sense of inevitability about the proceedings, and we never really believe the Doctor's claim that "this is an opportunity.  A temporal tipping point.  Whatever happens today, will change future events, create its own timeline, its own reality.  The future pivots around you, here, now."

It's perhaps not surprising then that this episode will likely be best remembered as the one where they killed Rory again, but this time for good (it seemed at the time), and then erased him from history just to add insult to the injury.  It's a testament to Arthur Darvill's performance that even after only five episodes people were upset by his death.  It's these contributions to the overarching plot of series 5 that "Cold Blood" in particular tends to be remembered for, rather than for the Silurian plot that took up the previous forty minutes.  That right there sums this episode up better than anything else.

May 7: "Vincent and the Doctor"

"You're being so nice to me," Amy says at the beginning.  "Why are you being so nice to me? ... These places you're taking me.  Arcadia, the Trojan Gardens, now this.  I think it's suspicious."  "What? It's not," the Doctor replies defensively.  "There's nothing to be suspicious about."  "Okay, I was joking.  Why aren't you?" Amy asks, but the Doctor has no response.

So here we are in our first post-Rory episode, and it's also a celebrity historical, as we get to meet Vincent van Gogh, thanks to the Doctor spotting an alien in the window of one of van Gogh's paintings.  But what writer Richard Curtis (yes, that Richard Curtis, the one behind things such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, and various Rowan Atkinson projects like Mr. Bean) cleverly does is contrast Vincent van Gogh's moments of depression and insight with the loss Amy has suffered:
AMY: I'm sorry you're so sad.
VINCENT: But I'm not.  Sometimes these moods torture me for weeks, for months.  But I'm good now.  If Amy Pond can soldier on, then so can Vincent Van Gogh.
AMY: I'm not soldiering on.  I'm fine.
VINCENT: Oh, Amy.  I hear the song of your sadness.  You've lost someone, I think.
AMY: I'm not sad.
VINCENT: They why are you crying?  It's all right.  I understand.
AMY: I'm not sure I do.
But because Amy doesn't remember Rory, this isn't a road they can travel very far down -- yet this means that they have to be far subtler, which works tremendously in this episode's favor.  Because what this does is focus the episode in favor of Vincent van Gogh, presenting us with a character who's incredibly in tune with his surroundings, who sees more than the average person can see but who's also tormented by his own personal demons.  Everything else serves this purpose -- even the presence of the Krafayis, a creature that only Vincent can see unaided, is ultimately there to reinforce the theme of loss and misunderstanding.  The Krafayis isn't inherently evil (despite the Doctor's (oddly prejudiced) comment during the cold open), it's just frightened and confused and alone, a victim of its circumstances.  The episode invites us to make the comparison but, pleasingly, doesn't feel the need to underline it.

Vincent shows the Doctor and Amy the night sky. ("Vincent and
the Doctor") ©BBC
The best moments, however, come after the Krafayis has died, when the three of them are reveling in the feeling of being alive.  Vincent points out how the night sky isn't dark and empty but full of color and light and beauty, and the effects shot, as the night sky is turned into something that looks like van Gogh's The Starry Night but isn't a slavish representation of it, is possibly one of the Mill's finest ever on the show.  It also leads to the most obviously emotional moment, as the Doctor wants to give Vincent a gift in return, and so he takes him to the present day, to see just how highly regarded his works have become.  The entire production is unabashedly going straight for the heartstrings here, as Vincent looks at his works on display, all the paintings he's dismissed as being not very good, and listens to Doctor Black (Bill Nighy, in an uncredited role) describe van Gogh:
To me, van Gogh is the finest painter of them all.  Certainly, the most popular great painter of all time.  The most beloved.  His command of colour, the most magnificent.  He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty.  Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world.  No one had ever done it before.  Perhaps no one ever will again.  To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.
It's a beautiful moment, as Vincent sees how his memory lives on, but to my mind the best part is the payoff, where Amy learns that that knowledge wasn't enough to stop him from committing suicide.  It's a touching, bittersweet scene: van Gogh may have learned how much he would be loved, but that wasn't enough to help him through what he was experiencing that moment.  It's a smart and brave decision to end on this note, and it makes perfect sense; just as van Gogh's works display the full gamut of emotions, of sadness tinged with joy and happiness mixed with melancholy, so too does "Vincent and the Doctor".  As the Doctor says, "every life is a pile of good things and bad things.  The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.  And we definitely added to his pile of good things."

In the end, "Vincent and the Doctor" is a brief look into the life of Vincent van Gogh, with an exquisite performance from Tony Curran and the alien monster almost irrelevant in some ways.  This is instead about beauty and sadness and light and dark and color and loneliness and everything in between, and this is a theme that runs through the entire piece.  It's one of the most gorgeous and emotional episodes of Doctor Who ever, and it's also one of the best.

May 8: "The Lodger"

If you're only familiar with Gareth Roberts' works from his earlier Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Adventures episodes, you might not realize how funny he can be.  There are jokes scattered throughout his television work, but nothing more than other episodes by different authors.  If, however, you are familiar with some of his Doctor Who works in other media (such as his Big Finish audio The One Doctor or his season 17 Missing Adventures), then you may have been wondering when that Gareth Roberts would show up on the TV version.  With "The Lodger", he's finally arrived.

Craig is slightly exasperated by the Doctor's appearance while
Sophie is over. ("The Lodger") ©BBC
It's a simple idea: force the Doctor to have to pretend to be a normal 21st-century person for a few days and see what happens.  (It's so simple, in fact, that Roberts had actually used it before: this is technically a remake of a Doctor Who Magazine strip with the tenth Doctor and Mickey instead of the eleventh and Craig, although Roberts basically wrote this episode from scratch.)  The result, however, is pure joy -- Matt Smith is clearly having a ball with this, and he's been given the perfect foil in James Corden (perhaps best known to American audiences now as Craig Ferguson's successor on CBS's The Late Late Show).  Ostensibly this is about the Doctor trying to deal with an alien spaceship that's preventing the TARDIS from landing, but really it's about his relationship with his new flatmate Craig.  The Doctor, bless him, does try, but because he's currently the eleventh Doctor, a persona that often seems more child-like than just about any of the other Doctors (the only other real comparison would be the second), he's wonderfully uncomprehending of all the social cues he's being given.  So we get some really great dialogue from the Doctor as he tries to work out on the fly the best things to say and do to avoid arousing suspicion, usually getting it slightly wrong.  The most obvious one is the Doctor's repeated la bise greetings (the cheek kissing) to people (something, one suspects, he picked up from Vincent van Gogh last time, as Vincent does it to Doctor Black), which seems to slightly throw everyone he does it to, but there are also lots of magical little lines, like his explanation of where he learned to cook ("Paris, in the eighteenth century.  No, hang on, that's not recent, is it?  Seventeenth?  No, no, no.  Twentieth.  Sorry, I'm not used to doing them in the right order") or his outrage at Sean's assertion that their pub football team would "annihilate" the next team ("Annihilate?  No.  No violence, do you understand me?  Not while I'm around.  Not today, not ever.  I'm the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, and you basically meant beat them in a football match, didn't you?").

Of course, the Doctor being the Doctor, he can't help but stand out, even when he's trying to blend in.  He seems to naturally excel at everything: he can cook, play football (which must have pleased Matt Smith no end, as he wanted to be a professional footballer until a back injury diverted him into acting), and work at a call center better than Craig can, seemingly without trying.  He also inspires Sophie to travel the world and chase her dreams, rather than spend the rest of her life stuck in Colchester.  These actions are the sort of thing we expect from the Doctor, honestly, but it drives Craig mad, which leads to even more wonderful Doctor-Craig sparring, culminating in another mind-meld-like thing à la various Tennant episodes, albeit this time delivered via headbutt.  (And look, another brief look at all the Doctors -- this new production team seems significantly less reticent about dropping in quick references to the past than the previous regime.  We also get Smith singing "La donna è mobile", much like Pertwee did in Inferno, but it's not a total capitulation to older fans -- Roberts didn't follow through with his initial idea to make the villain of the piece Meglos from the eponymous story, with the joke being that the Doctor doesn't remember Meglos at all.)

Yes, there's a plot involving an alien ship on the roof, luring people to their doom, and while it's driving a decent amount of the story (and will become retroactively important next series), it's not really the point of the story.  The point of "The Lodger" is to show the Doctor as a fish-out-of-water tale without realizing he's a fish-out-of-water, and it's to provide a double act between Smith and Corden, and at these two things it's terribly successful.  The only thing that's slightly odd is that the message seems to be that it's OK to stay at home as long as you're with someone, which is rather the opposite of the show's usual message of "go and experience new things", but even this isn't terribly out of place, as the primary conceit is "love conquers all".  This is an extremely entertaining and very funny episode with some outstanding comedic acting from Matt Smith and James Corden, and a strong contender for best episode of series 5.

May 9: "The Pandorica Opens"

Throughout series 5 there's been a sense that Steven Moffat has been doing his own take on the debut album, much like Russell T Davies did with series 1.  You get the sense that he's had an awful lot of time to think about what he would do when he was put in charge of the show, and now that he's finally gotten the chance he's not going to waste it.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the series 5 finale: we travel to 19th century France to 20th century London to three different locations in the 52nd century to 2nd century Britain, and that's all in the cold open.  Steven Moffat is flexing his muscles and seeing how much he can get away with -- the answer is quite a bit.  They even travel to see the oldest message in the entire universe, only to find it says "Hello sweetie" (complete with a theta sigma for the older fans).  "You graffitied the oldest cliff face in the universe," the Doctor admonishes River.  "You wouldn't answer your phone," she replies airily.

This is the sort of fun that Moffat knows he can get away with, in the service of possibly the most overtly epically-minded story to date.  This episode is concerned with the opening of an elaborate prison cell beneath Stonehenge known as the Pandorica, which contains "the most feared thing in all the universe."  The Doctor tells us the legend: "There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior.  A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies.  The most feared being in all the cosmos.  And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it.  One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world."  When you don't know what's coming this is intriguing; when you do know what's coming this legend takes on a fascinating new twist, and one can easily imagine Moffat chuckling to himself as he wrote it.

The alliance formed to trap the Doctor. ("The Pandorica Opens")
"The Pandorica Opens" is emphatically a series finale (well, the first half of one), and so we get a boatload of cameos of characters from earlier in series 5, but the biggest one is the (initially inexplicable) return of Rory.  It's a return that's played for laughs (the Doctor's reaction) and pathos (Amy's non-reaction), but it's unreservedly welcome.  It's also confusing, but the eventual explanation is horrifying -- all of the Doctor's old enemies have formed an alliance and basically raided Amy's mind (all right, the psychic residue she left in her house) just to create an elaborate trap, one that the Doctor would believe and walk into.  It's a clever piece of writing, even if it takes a bit to wrap your head around, and it provides a satisfying explanation for Rory's reappearance: he's really just an Auton.

The end of the episode sees the Pandorica opened, and the Doctor finally realizes it's a trap when he sees it's empty -- it's been waiting for him, as all his greatest enemies (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, Sycorax, and, er, Hoix) force him into the Pandorica, to stop the TARDIS from exploding and destroying the universe.  "Only the Doctor can pilot the TARDIS," the Supreme Dalek grates, and while the logic is sound we realize how wrong the Dalek is.  It's a hell of a cliffhanger: the Doctor locked away inside the Pandorica, River trapped in a TARDIS that's about to explode, and Amy dead by the hand of Rory, who was unable to completely suppress his Auton side.  It's a huge, ballsy cliffhanger, appropriate for an episode that has been just as huge in its execution, daring the audience to not keep up.  "The Pandorica Opens" sees a supremely confident production flexing its muscles and pushing things into new areas, and it leaves us eager to see what they come up with next.

May 10: "The Big Bang"

One of the things people at the time commented on about this episode was that it required you to pay attention -- the time travel shenanigans with the vortex manipulator apparently had some people scratching their heads, trying to keep up.  Yet it becomes clear that Steven Moffat and company are working extra hard to make this aspect easy to follow -- all the business with fezzes and mops and conversations broken off before they're over is to make it clear what bits are happening when, and it's a clever way of handling this.  What's instead far harder to wrap your head around is how exactly the Doctor saves everything.

Part of this, I suspect, is a result of what we're shown on screen; the Doctor flies the Pandorica into the heart of the exploding TARDIS, which then causes the Pandorica to explode -- but then we start to see things rewinding.  This is meant to be the start of the Doctor travelling back up his own time stream, but how many of those viewers who were confused by the vortex manipulator jumps thought that time itself was rewinding, I wonder?

Rory, Amy, and the Doctor look at the exploding TARDIS in the
sky. ("The Big Bang") ©BBC
But then that's one of the wonderful things about "The Pandorica Opens" / "The Big Bang" -- this is a story that expects you to have been paying close attention.  So much of what we need to understand the ending is set up cleverly in other ways (such as the Doctor's conversation with Amy after she finds the engagement ring: "Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely.  And if something can be remembered, it can come back" -- a line important enough to show up in the "previously..." section at the start of "The Big Bang"), rather than just being outright stated, that this is a story that almost demands repeated viewings, with more revealing itself every time.  This is not a story that will hold your hand; instead it races along and encourages you to keep up, confident in the belief that you will.

This is doubly pleasing because even without the time-hopping, "The Big Bang" isn't remotely straightforward.  There's an awful lot of stuff to work through, what with the time stuff, the Cracks in Time, "Silence will fall" (and note that this is the first series of the BBC Wales version not to answer all the questions by the finale; we still don't know why the TARDIS blew up or what exactly "silence will fall" means -- those answers will have to wait for later)... but you never get the sense that it's too much.  This is Doctor Who at its most fearless, playing a game with myths and legends both ancient and modern and utterly self-assured as it does so.  It's full of striking imagery (Rory preparing to guard the Pandorica for 1000 years, the fossilized Dalek trundling down corridors) and wonderful big ideas (the sun is the TARDIS, the Pandorica contains pieces of the old universe that can be extrapolated) that spark the imagination.  But the best bits are the small moments, the quiet scenes: the Doctor trying to determine if the Auton Rory is still Rory, his conversation with Amy inside the Pandorica, and, perhaps best of all, his little speech to the seven-year-old Amelia Pond:
When you wake up, you'll have a mum and dad, and you won't even remember me.  Well, you'll remember me a little.  I'll be a story in your head.  But that's okay.  We're all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one, eh?  Because it was, you know.  It was the best.  The daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away.  Did I ever tell you that I stole it?  Well, I borrowed it.  I was always going to take it back.  Oh, that box.  Amy, you'll dream about that box.  It'll never leave you.  Big and little at the same time.  Brand new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever.  And the times we had, eh?  Would have had.  Never...  In your dreams, they'll still be there.  The Doctor and Amy Pond, and the days that never came.

But then that's one of the great things about Doctor Who in general, and this story in particular: the gigantic and the intimate can exist side-by-side, each enhancing the other.  "The Pandorica Opens" / "The Big Bang" is about huge events, but it never gets so wrapped up in being epic that it forgets to be personal as well.  It strikes the perfect balance, and the final result is impressive.

It also marks the end of series 5, the first series with Matt Smith as the Doctor and Steven Moffat as the showrunner, and it's been a very strong run.  As I noted before, we get the sense that Steven Moffat has been thinking about this for a long time and so has had a lot of time to work it out.  This means that we get an impressively coherent and balanced series this year, with only one real disappointment ("Victory of the Daleks") in the whole run.  Part of this success is because Moffat has (either by accident or design) given us a varied series that feels naturally polished, as if it were always meant to be this way.  The emphasis has shifted subtly from Davies' era (Eccleston and Tennant in particular often felt like the romantic hero, while Smith is more like a mad uncle), but it hasn't shifted so far as to be unrecognizable to fans of the previous era -- this is still definitely the same show.

But another part of the success of series 5 is the performances from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.  Matt Smith impresses from the start, with a timeless quality about his performance that suggests that he's both very young and very old at the same time, but nevertheless constantly experiencing things with a sense of child-like wonder.  Karen Gillan, meanwhile, provides a feisty companion in Amy Pond -- occasionally too brash and shouty, but always complementing Smith's Doctor extremely well.  And while Arthur Darvill isn't in this series the entire time as Rory, when he is he provides the balance between these two extremes.  The result is a genuine pleasure to watch.

A great set of stories, a fabulous new TARDIS team, and a show brimming with confidence in both the audience and itself: where will they head next?


214 Thus complicating Earth's history enormously for anyone trying to work these things out, as, while the Doctor thinks the Ark was built in the late 29th/early 30th century, fandom had generally assumed that either a) the Doctor is just way off-base with his guess, or b) the Ark was in service as Nerva Beacon (Revenge of the Cybermen) for a long time before it was converted into an ark to avoid the solar flares and that the beacon was built in the 29th century, as placing the solar flare event in the late 29th century tends to cause massive problems for anyone trying to square this with all the other things we know about this time period (such as The Mutants, which is set in the late 30th century and explicitly describes the Earth as "Land and sea alike, all grey.  Grey cities linked by grey highways across grey deserts").  But now that they've reinforced the date, I suppose we're stuck with it, and we just have to explain why they're still on Starship UK in the 34th century, despite things like The Mutants and Terror of the Vervoids seeming to contradict this.
215 This therefore being the crash of the Byzantium River mentions in "Silence in the Library".
217 You want proof?  Take a look at The Trial of a Time Lord, which actually does seem to pose this question -- except that it's clear from the beginning that the Valeyard (who's the one asking the questions) is meant to be a villain and thus we shouldn't take his view of events remotely seriously.  That the story ends with the Valeyard revealed to have engineered the whole trial for his own nefarious ends (rather than because he thought the question had serious merit) and the Doctor completely exonerated reinforces this.
220 The Doctor here describes them as Homo reptilia, which on the one hand simply means "reptile man", but on the other hand suggests the actual genus Homo, of which humans are a part.  Of course, this would mean that this group of Silurians are descended from primates rather than reptiles (which are a different class from mammals), and thus the "primitive apes" are their distant relatives.  While it would explain why the new Silurians' faces look so human, it throws up so many other awkward questions (such as the cold-blooded thing) that it's probably best to assume the Doctor simply meant the "reptile man" meaning.