David Duchovny To Hunt Charles Manson For NBC In Aquarius

Episode 504

We may be saying goodbye to the character of Hank Moody, as Californication heads into its seventh and final season on Showtime from April 13, but David Duchovny himself is simply channel-hopping. The iconic TV star will headline the new NBC drama, Aquarius.

The show is set in the late 1960s, and will star Duchovny as an LA police sergeant on the trail of a low-level criminal named Charles Manson. With aspirations toward becoming a cult leader, Manson is recruiting young women to his ‘cause,’ and keeping law enforcement agencies guessing. Referring to the project as “an event series”, NBC ordered the show straight to a 13 episode season, before ever seeing a pilot. Announcing their show, the network said:

“The twists and turns of a complicated undercover operation will lead Duchovny’s character and his young partner to the brink of Manson’s crimes, that will eventually lead to the Tate-LaBianca murders in subsequent seasons.”

The infamous Charles Manson evolved as a dangerous criminal through the late 1960s, to lead a cult known as the Manson Family. His cult was founded on his belief in what he termed ‘Helter Skelter’ – named after the Beatles song. He used the term to refer to an impending apocalyptic race war, which he eventually felt would be expedited by directing his followers to commit certain murders – including five people at the home of Sharon Tate (wife of director Roman Polanski), and a married couple named LaBianca. In 1971, Manson was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, and was sentenced to death. This was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972, when the state’s death penalty was temporarily eliminated, and he is currently held in Corcoran State Prison.

In the usual Hollywood tradition of doing everything in competition, the announcement of a 13 episode order of Aquarius comes hot on the heels of news that a Charles Manson project is being developed at Fox by Rob Zombie and Bret Easton Ellis. That project has yet to receive a greenlight, however, so we will certainly be seeing Aquarius first, with star David Duchovny and writer John McNamara among its executive producers.

This project feels like a very bold move on the part of NBC – to commission a show that essentially bases dramatic TV entertainment on very real, horrific murders. However, in the right hands, this has the potential for brilliance. With David Duchovny in the lead role, we will hopefully see excellent and complex characterisation set against the backdrop of the police investigation into the Manson Family. The key to real success will lie with the wider cast, as even the most incredible central performance doesn’t work without strong supporting turns.

Hopefully, further Aquarius announcements will be made soon, and then we can turn our excitement levels up to 11.