First of all, I have been a Doctor Who fan for all of my life. I remember watching the original series on PBS every Saturday afternoon/evening when I was growing up. I suppose it is one of the reasons I became a writer of Science Fiction in particular. The fantastic idea of time travel and outer space adventures was ingrained into me from birth.
What a relief it was to watch the first few episodes. My fears were quickly quelled, as the stories turned out to be better than ever before. I have to say, this is quite literally Doctor Who at its best, and Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor may just be my new favorite! I've been a long-time William Hartnell (1st Doctor) fan, and he'll always be held in high esteem, but Smith is just too good, and he has the advantage of modern production dollars to make his portrayal come off even better.
As I mentioned, the stories this year were exceptional, some of the best Doctor Who has ever had. They had more of a Sci-Fi feel to them, where previous years seemed to put greater emphasis on Horror. Of course, there are always both elements in any Doctor Who story, but things certainly seemed more "fantastic" in Series 5, which is a big plus in my book.
The only thing I wasn't completely sold on was the new Tardis console. I think they went a little too far with it, made it a bit too wacky. Other than that, it was a pretty perfect season. I even liked the Dalek episode that a lot of people have criticized.
Another thing I loved about Series 5 is that it turned Doctor Who into a truly family friendly show again. Call me old-fashioned, but I found the previous years of the new show to be a little too sexualized at times for young children (I'd rather not have my 4 year old watch Captain Jack hitting on every man, woman, and alien he sees, thank you). The 5th Series has virtually no sexuality in it, which brings it back to the kind of show it was originally designed to be.
With great production values, intelligent stories, and great acting, I am giving this one a full 5-star rating. This is Doctor Who at its best! (Yes, I said that previously, but you can't say it enough!)
If you've never seen the show before, this is a great DVD set to pick up. You can watch these episodes and fully enjoy them without a working knowledge of the greater universe. There are a few old themes and foes that pop up, but you don't need an extensive background in the series to understand what's going on.