Day of the Moon
|214b – "Day of the Moon"|
|Doctor Who episode|
Amy Pond's markings determine the presence of the Silence
|Script editor||Caroline Henry|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Length||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|Originally broadcast||30 April 2011|
"Day of the Moon" is the second episode of the sixth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Written by show runner Steven Moffat, and directed by Toby Haynes, the episode was first broadcast on 30 April 2011 on BBC One in the United Kingdom and on BBC America in the United States. The episode is the second of a two-part story that began with "The Impossible Astronaut".
In 1969 America, alien time traveller the Doctor (Matt Smith) attempts, alongside newlyweds Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), companion River Song (Alex Kingston) and FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III (Mark Sheppard), to lead the human race into a revolution against the Silence, a race of aliens who cannot be remembered after they are encountered.
"The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" were designed to be a darker opener to the series and were partially filmed in the United States, a first for the programme. Moffat was keen on incorporating Area 51, the moon landing, and President Richard Nixon (played by Stuart Milligan) into the plot. The episode received final viewing figures of 7.3 million in the UK. It received generally positive reviews from critics, though many worried about the number of questions that had been left unanswered.
In the three months since the end of "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song have been attempting to track the Silence, an alien race who cannot be remembered after they are encountered. Ex-FBI agent Canton Delaware, under the ruse of capturing them as criminals, helps to reunite the group inside a special prison at Area 51 containing the TARDIS. Though they do not yet know the name or motive for the aliens, the Doctor's allies have discovered they exist across the entire planet, and have the ability to place post-hypnotic suggestions in humans they encounter. The Doctor plants a communication device called a nanorecorder in each of the group's hands to record audio of meetings with the Silence. As they travel to Kennedy Space Center shortly before the launch of Apollo 11, Amy tells the Doctor she was mistaken and is not pregnant as she previously had claimed.
While the Doctor alters part of the command module of Apollo 11, Canton and Amy visit a nearby orphanage, hoping to find where the girl in the spacesuit was taken from. Amy discovers a nest of the Silence, and a photograph of her and a baby amongst pictures of the little girl from the space suit. The girl enters with the Silence, and Amy is abducted and taken to their time engine control room. Arriving too late, the Doctor and his allies find Amy's recording device, through which Rory still can hear Amy's voice confessing her love for one of the group. Canton is able to shoot and wound one of the creatures, and from it the Doctor discovers the creatures are the Silence, a group he was warned about by several of his foes in his recent adventures. Analysing the now-empty space suit, River realises that the girl possesses incredible strength to have forced her way out of it, and that the suit's advanced life-support technology would have called the President as the highest authority figure on Earth when the girl got scared. The Doctor realises why the Silence have been controlling humanity — by guiding their technological advances, they have influenced humanity into the Space Race for purposes of building a spacesuit, which must somehow be crucial to their intentions. Meanwhile, Canton interrogates the captured Silent in the Area 51 prison, who mocks humanity for treating him when "...you should kill us all on sight". Canton records this using Amy's mobile phone.
The Doctor uses Amy's communication chip to track her location, and lands the TARDIS in the Silence's control room five days later. As River and Rory hold the Silence at bay, the Doctor shows them the live broadcast of the moon landing. As they watch, the Doctor uses his modification of the Apollo command module to insert Canton's recording of the wounded Silent into the footage of the landing. Because of this message, humans will now turn upon the Silence whenever they see them. The group frees Amy and departs in the TARDIS, while River kills all the Silence in the control room. Amy reassures Rory that the man he overheard her speaking of loving through the communication chip was him, not the Doctor.
River refuses the Doctor's offer to travel with him, returning to her Stormcage prison in order to keep a promise. She kisses the Doctor goodbye, and as the Doctor has never kissed her before she deduces that this will be her last kiss with him. In the TARDIS, Amy appears unable to remember seeing her picture in the orphanage and says that she told the Doctor, rather than Rory, when she believed she was pregnant through fears that travelling in the TARDIS might have affected her child's development. As the trio sets off, the Doctor discreetly uses the TARDIS scanner to attempt to determine if Amy is pregnant.
Six months later, a homeless man in New York City comes across the young girl, previously seen in the astronaut's suit. The girl says she is dying, but can fix it; before the man's eyes, she appears to begin regenerating, a trait only applied to Time Lords.
The Silence's 'time engine' set was previously used in "The Lodger". The Doctor describes it as "very Aickman Road", a reference to the house the ship occupied in that episode. When the Silent reveals his species' name to the Doctor, the Doctor has flash-backs to "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Vampires of Venice", the first mentions of the Silence. The "Eye Patch Lady" (Frances Barber) appears for the first time in this episode, and makes similar appearances in "The Curse of the Black Spot" and "The Rebel Flesh" before her connection to Amy is revealed in "The Almost People". The Doctor uses the TARDIS's scanners to detect Amy's alternating pregnancy state. The Doctor repeats the scan with the same results in "The Curse of the Black Spot" and "The Rebel Flesh".
The Doctor and Rory discuss both being present at the fall of Rome. As an Auton, Rory guarded the Pandorica from the Roman era to the present day in "The Big Bang", and the First Doctor indirectly instigated the Great Fire of Rome in The Romans. The Doctor is held captive in Area 51, which he had visited previously in the Tenth Doctor animated serial Dreamland.
Steven Moffat, head writer of the new series, said before broadcast that this would be one of the darkest openers to a series ever done for Doctor Who. Director Toby Haynes believed that the darker episodes like "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" would allow the series to get into "more dangerous territory." The creation of the Silence was partly inspired by the figure from the Edvard Munch painting The Scream. Introducing the alien villains became a "big challenge" for the producers; it would tie in with the loose "silence will fall" arc that carried through the fifth series. Moffat did not wish to end the arc in the previous series, as he felt it would be "more fun" to continue it. Elsewhere in the episode, Delaware was written to be deceptively antagonistic towards the protagonists, which was based on actor Mark Sheppard's past as villains for his work in American television. Moffat was also keen on the idea of having the Doctor imprisoned with a beard in Area 51. Smith wore a glued-on beard, which was difficult to peel off.
Incorporating Nixon into the plot was accidental; Moffat wanted to set the story during the moon landing and looked up the United States president during the time. He was initially disappointed that it was such a "rubbish one" and briefly considered using a generic, unnamed president, such as the one seen in "The Sound of Drums". However, he thought it "didn't feel right for a story partly about real events" and realized it could be fun to use Nixon. He believed there was something "comically awkward" about him, and it would be interesting for the Doctor to have to work with someone he did not like. The episode makes references to the Watergate scandal and David Frost.
Many of the opening scenes of the episode were filmed on location in the United States. The sequence where Delaware chases Amy was shot in the Valley of the Gods in Utah. Gillan found it difficult to run because of the altitude. The scene in which Amy confronts Canton was originally watched by three Silence in the script, but this did not make it to the film version. The sequence where Delaware chases Rory was shot at the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona. The Dam sequence was the final scene to be shot in the States. "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" marked the first time that Doctor Who has filmed principal photography footage within the United States. The sequence where Delaware chases River in New York was in fact shot in central Cardiff. A set was later constructed in a studio for the jump sequence, and Kingston was replaced by a stunt woman to perform the jump. The scenes set in Area 51 were filmed in a large disused hangar in South Wales.
The Florida orphanage was filmed at the abandoned Troy House in Monmouthshire. To add the effect that a storm is outside the building, the production crew placed rain machines outdoors and flashing lights to simulate lightning. The Silence were portrayed by Marnix van den Broeke and other performers. The masks caused vision difficulties for the performers, who had to be guided by two people when they had to walk. Van den Broeke did not provide the voices of the Silence, as it was replaced during post-production. The control room set used from "The Lodger" was used again for this episode. Moffat wanted the set to be used again, feeling it would be a suitable Silence base. The set was adapted to give it a darker, evil feel.
Broadcast and reception
"Day of the Moon" was first broadcast on BBC One on 30 April 2011 at 6 pm and on the same date on BBC America in the United States. Initial overnight ratings showed that the episode had been watched by 5.4 million viewers, a decrease of 1.1 million from the previous week. The episode received final ratings of 7.3 million viewers on BBC One, seventh for the week on that channel. It received an Appreciation Index of 87, considered "excellent".
The episode was met with generally positive reviews from television critics. Dan Martin of The Guardian praised the episode for its "action, tension, horror and River Song in a business suit," but felt it "sags a little around the middle." Martin believed the scenes with Amy and Delaware in the orphanage were the "fear factor" of the episode. He later rated it the fourth best episode of the series, though the finale was not included in the list. Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy stated "after the sensational opening gambit that kicked off the series premiere, it's perhaps unsurprising that 'Day of the Moon' starts with a similarly thrilling onslaught of action." Jeffery was positive towards the nano-recorder, which provided the episode with "a number of unsettling moments in which characters listen back to their own terrified exclamations about the Silents." However, Jeffery felt the final scenes "expose this episode's chief flaw — quite simply, too much is left unresolved." In conclusion, the reviewer stated "While 'The Impossible Astronaut' aced the set-up, 'Day of the Moon' falters slightly in providing the resolution." Jeffery rated the episode four stars out of five.
Tom Phillips of Metro stated that "Amy and Canton's sojourn to the orphanage was not just a high-mark for sheer skin-crawling horror on recent mainstream telly — that image of The Silence nesting on the ceiling like cadaverous bat-people will live on in the nightmares of many, many children — but also genuinely, properly weird." Dave Golder from SFX thought that although the series was "shaping up to be like no other before it, as the show moves even further away from its traditional series of sequential standalone stories format and more towards Lost style storytelling", that the episode "is no mere exercise in delayed gratification. You want fun? You want creepy? You want action? You've got it – all not-so-neatly tied up with a neat bow tie." Golder went on to state that "once again we're treated to some outstanding direction, glorious performances, near flawless FX and gorgeous locations ... "Day Of The Moon" is huge fun, effortlessly entertaining, beguilingly bat's-arse and blessed with a cliffhanger so jawdroppingly unexpected it's bound to keep viewers hooked". He gave the episode a rating of four out of five stars.
IGN reviewer Matt Risley rated the episode 9 out of 10, saying it "maintained the thrills, chills and scalp-scratching plot twists of "The Impossible Astronaut", whilst somehow tweaking its predecessor's thundering pace into 45 minutes of near-perfectly plotted TV." When comparing it to "The Impossible Astronaut", he said it was "scarier, creepier...and more action packed in every way...[and] also managed to leave things on a suitably epic, mythos-expanding note." He concluded, "the show as a whole has a brand new energy, and we can't wait to see where Who goes from here."
Gavin Fuller of The Daily Telegraph was more critical with the episode, stating, "having set up an interesting cliffhanger last week, it was a tad annoying that Steven Moffat did his trick again of taking a swerve with the pre-credits section of this week's episode, and more supposed shock value with the shootings of Amy and Rory," but also more annoyed "that what exactly was going on here, and how it was influenced by the events of the previous episode, were never exactly explained, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks." Fuller believed that the plot and ending "only raised more questions than answers," believing that the overarching storyline would "require the audience's concentration over many weeks; any casual viewer tuning in this week, and I suspect not a few fans, will have been left baffled by the goings-on," but still felt the episode "was interesting and showed just how, when the writers use their imagination, Doctor Who can tell stories in a way little else on television can."
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