Tuesday, July 26, 2016
TV Tuesday: Aquarius
David Duchovny (of X-Files and Californication fame) stars as Detective Sam Hodiak, an L.A. homicide detective who is old-school and plays loose with the rules. One of his co-workers is Brian Shafe, played by Grey Damon, a long-haired cop of the younger generation who is working undercover on a drug case. Claire Holt plays Charmaine Tully, the first female police officer in the precinct, a pretty, young, blonde woman whom no one takes seriously. Hodiak, despite his gruff exterior, sees the potential in both of the young officers, though.
Meanwhile, a 16-year old girl named Emma, played by Emma Dumont, runs away from home and from her parents' constant fighting. She meets a group of other girls her age who bring her to their home. It's basically a hippie commune overseen by a charismatic guy named Charlie Manson. Charlie takes an instant liking to Emma and nicknames her Cherry, and she joins their happy family.
Emma's mother is an old friend (and former girlfriend) of Sam Hodiak's, so she goes to Sam for help in finding their daughter. Her husband has political aspirations, so she wants to keep things out of the news but hopes that Sam will agree to look for their daughter. And that's how Hodiak and Manson first cross paths. Soon Shafe - and later, Charmaine - are going undercover with Manson's group, and trying to find out exactly what is going on at his house. Of course, no one knows at this point just how dangerous Charlie will turn out to be, but they are looking into the drugs and all the runaways he attracts.
The show alternates back and forth between the police officers' work and personal life and what is happening at the Manson house. It's a slow boil. Hodiak is assigned all sorts of cases to work, while he's keeping an eye on Charlie on the side. Manson's followers are growing in number. All of this is set against a perfect 1960's backdrop of fashions, hairstyles, cars, and the civic unrest building in the community over the Vietnam War and race issues.
We have really been enjoying this show, now in the middle of its second season. It's a police drama, in part, but based on a well-known, mystical historical figure at its center. It pulls much of its material from actual history, with the rise of the Blank Panthers, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the growing threat of race riots, and of course, Manson's slow but steady growth and descent into madness. In addition, the main characters' personal lives come into the story, as well. It's an engrossing, fascinating story with excellent writing and acting. Duchovny is especially good in the lead role, as is Gethin Anthony as the scarily charismatic but crazy Manson.
The show is currently in the middle of its second season. Both seasons are available on Amazon Prime for $1.99 an episode or $21.99 a season. The first season is available on Netflix for subscribers. Cable On Demand and the NBC website currently have episodes 4 through 7 of the second season (on ours, episode 4 will be coming off on 7/28). It looks like the second half of season 2 will be starting up on July 28.