Charles Manson steals David Duchovny’s friends in Aquarius

aq4David Duchovny stars in the latest melodrama from NBC, and it sure feels tedious.  I don’t mean to start the review that way, but this television show is really concerned about inspiring nostalgia.  It has the 60s environments, costumes, and haircuts especially right.  The first ten minutes of the opening episode have no less than a half-dozen songs from the sixties, and it has songs created to sound like sounds from the sixties too.  That’s what this television show is; a creation meant to inspire nostalgia without any foot in reality.

It sounds like I’m saying this television show is crap, but it has good production value and David Duchovny puts on a great performance.  He’s back on standard network television instead of off in paid-cable-land, so I can finally watch his work again.  The last time I caught his act was in the second X-Files movie sequel, and I haven’t heard much from him since then.  It’s somewhat surprising that he’s back with a vengeance, delivering Aquarius this year and another X-Files reunion later on.

Duchovny is surrounded by good actors, and most of them do some good work.  Most of the best scenes involve conflict between the characters, but otherwise, the show just feels cluttered.  We’re treated to endless dialogue through police procedures and witness interrogations, then there’s about four or five subplots going on.  Many of these scenes just go on and on, and I was beginning to wonder if Duchovny was going to ever get around to interacting with the actor who is playing Charles Manson, Gethin Anthony.

aq3At first, I thought this show was going to be a police procedural, with Duchovny hot on the trail of Manson and his cult.  But then, the show began to focus on Manson and his lawyer, then the lawyer’s daughter Emma for a while, then the show explores a case about race relations.  Duchovny then takes on a sidekick and the show becomes a buddy drama for a while, as they play good cop-bad cop tracking down Emma’s location, after she runs away with Manson.  My point is, this show is anything but focused.  What is it then?  Who knows.  It isn’t any one thing, so it loses most of the emphasis on what it is trying to do.  And what is it trying to do?  I don’t even know after watching two episodes.

aq1I will say that David Duchovny can possibly make this show worth watching.  If they are able to focus it a little bit more, I can see Duchovny carrying the ball, like he did on The X-Files.  He was in virtually every minute of that show and it did alright.  I’m not arguing for that extreme, but they don’t need to try so hard to be a period drama, because lathering on the nostalgia gets tiring after a while.  Duchovny needs time to do his thing, but the show veers all over the place searching for what it is.  Hopefully, it finds its way.