It’s fair to say that by the end of “Day of the Moon,” there are as many questions left open as there are answered — the identity of the girl in the spacesuit, Amy’s phantom pregnancy — but the Doctor’s first encounter with the Silence is also a chance for a very British television institution to stretch out and work on a more global stage.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for, the next time you watch:
The American setting for this story came out of Doctor Who’s increasing success on BBC America, with Season 5 breaking viewing records in the U.S. It was suggested that some form of co-production could work in Season 6, involving American location shoots as a tip of the hat to U.S. Whovians. Steven Moffat wrote his scripts for both parts of the story with that in mind.
Richard Nixon was not an integral part of the original story. Steven Moffat wanted to use the 1969 moon landing as a key plot point and went to check who was president at the time. He was concerned that Nixon had too much historical baggage to be a useful character in this story, and considered using a fictitious president instead. But on reflection, the historical setting of the story took precedence and Steven decided it would be interesting for the Doctor to work with a leader he had a personal antipathy towards.
There are two references made by the Doctor towards Nixon’s future. There’s the knowing wink to the Watergate scandal in the line, “You have to tape everything that happens in this office. Every word” and the Doctor’s parting shot, in which he says, “Say hello to David Frost,” a reference to the iconic 1977 interview (later dramatically recreated in the movie Frost/Nixon) in which Nixon is made to account for the actions that led to his departure from office.
Steven Moffat had originally titled part one of this story “The Year of the Moon” and part two “Look Behind You,” but both titles went down very poorly with his children.
While a great many of this episode’s scenes were filmed on location in the United States — the Valley of the Gods, Utah; Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona — Canton Delaware’s chase of River Song through the New York City night was, in fact, filmed in central Cardiff.
Other potential locations on American soil include the Golden Gate Bridge — a possible setting for Rory’s final capture by Canton Delaware — and Chicago, where the final regeneration scene would take place.
The Silence base was created using the set that had been built for the spaceship in “The Lodger,” dressed to give it a more ominous tone. To note the similarity, Steven had the Doctor say “Oh, interesting. Very Aickman Road” as he enters.
Drawing gothic inspiration from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Steven named Dr. Renfrew, head of the children’s home, after the character R.M. Renfield, a bloodthirsty inmate of a lunatic asylum.
Matt Smith’s beard, symbolizing the three months the Doctor spent in captivity, was fake, and stuck on exceptionally well. He told Yahoo! News: “I wouldn’t be able to grow a full-on beard like that in time. They had to remove it with a substance smelling like white turps.”
There are two crossovers between Doctor Who and the railway world of Thomas & Friends in this story. Both Kerry Shale (Dr. Renfrew) and Glenn Wrage (Gardner) have played a variety of voice roles across various series of the perennial children’s favorite. As previously noted, Thomas & Friends has played host to a variety of Doctor Who stars over the years, including John Hurt, Olivia Colman, Tracy-Ann Oberman, and Miranda Raison.