All in all, it’s fair to say that David Duchovny has quite the positive track record when it comes to the small-screen. He followed up a well-received early 90s guest stint on cult phenomenon Twin Peaks with the iconic role of Fox Mulder on The X-Files, and just a few years after that series ended, Duchvony transitioned over to the comedic realm with Showtime’s long-running hit Californication. He has of course since triumphantly returned to The X-Files, with more episodes likely to come.
Amidst all that success awkwardly sits 2015 effort Aquarius, an NBC police procedural/crime drama set in the late 1960s. Duchovny stars as Detective Sam Hodiak, a grizzled LAPD veteran with a low tolerance for B.S., and a quickly apparent willingness to bend or even break the law in pursuit of acheiving what he perceives to be the correct outcome. On the other side of the spectrum is Aquarius’ primary antagonist, (a fictionalized version of) notorious murder cult leader Charles Manson (played by Game of Thrones’ Gethin Anthony). Taking free love to the extreme, Manson’s charismatic charms seem to work on just about everybody, regardless of gender.
While Aquarius’ main narrative focus was sold as being Hodiak and company’s pursuit for Manson, the series really isn’t about that, all told. Aquarius was more about dramatizing the overall societal pressures and conflicts of the 60s as a whole, and simply used Manson’s reign of terror as a touchstone for audiences to connect with. Sadly, those audiences never really appeared, and NBC has now opted to cancel the show after two 13-episode seasons.
From its very premiere, Aquarius was an unusual show, as NBC made the bold move of releasing the entirety of season 1 online simultaneously, for free. While new episodes continued to air weekly, they drew a rather pathetic 0.5 average in the desired 18-49 viewer demographic. Still, despite its equally poorly rated lead-out Hannibal subsequently getting canceled, Aquarius was somewhat inexplicably renewed for season 2, reportedly based on good streaming numbers.
Season 2 premiered this past summer, this time airing on a normal weekly schedule. Unfortunately, this did nothing to improve things, with Aquarius quickly getting booted off to the Saturday night death slot, and its seasonal average dipping to an insanely low (for NBC) 0.3. At that point, the writing was pretty much on the wall for the continuing adventures of Sam Hodiak and Charles Manson. As of today, it is truly the ending of the age of Aquarius.