For those of you wondering -- yes, it really was filmed in Manhattan; yes, the "angels" mentioned in the title refer to the Weeping Angels, which are, perhaps not so coincidentally, Gillan’s favorite villains on the show; and yes, the farewell to the Ponds will most likely make you cry. "They kept having to buy me more tissues," said the effervescent Gillan, when asked about shooting her final scenes during the Q&A that took place in New York this past weekend after an advance screening of "Asylum of the Daleks," the first episode of the seventh season. She added, "I am sad to be leaving, I mean, I was crying back there," in reference to what she was feeling while watching the episode along with the 1,100 Whovians (the name fans of Doctor Who have adopted for themselves) who paid the exceedingly economical price of $2.22 per ticket to attend the screening at the Ziegfeld Theater.
"The show is all about change, and that’s what it’s been like for the past 50 years," Gillan said with a sense of finality that was more enthusiastic about what’s to come than sad about what she is leaving behind.
But just because Gillan feels a bittersweet sense of peace for her exit doesn’t mean everyone else does. "I don’t think anyone’s prepared to really get their heads around what it means for Arthur and Karen not to be in the TARDIS," said producer Caroline Skinner. And indeed, it seems that the "Doctor Who" Powers-That-Be are not ready to let the Ponds go quite yet. Beginning today, the web series “Pond Life,” a five-episode season prequel that showcases what the Ponds are up to when they’re not traversing space and time with The Doctor, will be released online daily leading up to the seventh season premiere on Saturday, September 1 at 9pm on BBC America.
Although it's easy to focus on the impending departure of the Ponds and what that means for the fans, this also means that huge changes are in store for The Doctor, and for Matt Smith, who is changing companions for the first time since taking on the role of The Doctor in 2009. "I think if you look at the history and heritage of the show, it’s always changing, and as Steven [Moffat] always says, it can never be predictable. It can never be cozy on 'Doctor Who,' it’s got to feel like it's marking new territory every season,” said Smith, who, it should be noted, is a guy who wears black and white polka-dotted socks, and publicly announces things like, “Just adjusting my trousers!” in his boisterous, friendly voice as he, indeed, adjusts his trousers.
Smith, on the other hand, was a little cheekier in his response. “If you look at the history of the man, he just picks up hot chicks over and over again.”
But before the Who-verse meets Clara, there are five episodes full of the Ponds still to come. “[These episodes] are five big blockbuster movies every week,” said Skinner. “Steven [Moffat] has always been incredibly clear that [this season] should always be coming back and feeling very different than the much more serialized stuff he did last year. He really gave every writer, and himself, the challenge of picking big genre pieces and then doing an enormous Doctor Who spin on that."
"New York City," said Skinner, "is so perfect for a story that wanted that level of atmosphere and scale. I think once Steven decided that the Weeping Angels were the right monster for Arthur and Karen’s final story that it all came together really beautifully."
During the filming of "The Angels Take Manhattan," fans flocked to the locations in Tudor City and Central Park, a phenomenon that doesn’t always happen while on the typical set in Cardiff, Wales. "The enthusiasm and support is really amazing," said Smith, who later added, "I’d make every single episode here if I could."
"Hey, 'Doctor Who' is bigger than Carrie Bradshaw!” Skinner exclaimed, before adding, "It’s not 'Doctor Who,' that-show-that’s-come-from-the-UK anymore. It’s just 'Doctor Who' over here, and that’s really fantastic. I just don’t think we could have picked a more beautiful or epic city to tell the story of Amy and Rory’s final adventure with the Doctor.”