NBC’s ‘Aquarius’ takes on 1960s Los Angeles

“Aquarius” episode 1: “Everybody’s Been Burned” on NBC
“Aquarius” episode 1: “Everybody’s Been Burned” on NBC NBC

A little more than three months after the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars on Feb. 14, NBC launches the series “Aquarius.”

David Duchovny trades tracking aliens for chasing mass murders as a Los Angeles detective trying to do his job in a world of free love, long hair, cheap drugs, police brutality, rising crime, protests, Black Power and the Vietnam War.

It’s also during the two years leading to the Tate-LaBianca murders that made Charles Manson a household name. “Game of Thrones” star Gethin Anthony plays convicted killer Manson when he was a budding musician and manipulator.

Anthony thought about reaching out to Manson for research. He did realize that meeting an 80-year-old Manson would not help him that much in playing him as a young man.

His research has given him ideas as to what made Manson become the person he did. Those elements included how Manson spent most of his early life in institution-like homes and some of tips he got from books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

“In prison he would listen to the pimps of how they controlled their women. When he got out of prison there was a lot of liberation in the air,” Anthony says.

Duchovny’s character, Sam Hodiak, gets drawn in when that liberation pulls in the 16-year-old daughter of an old girlfriend. Hodiak agrees to find her with the help of a young, idealistic undercover vice cop.

They have to get past the generational gap conflict to save the young girl after she’s joined the small but growing band of drifters under the sway of Manson, a career criminal with a dream of being a rock star. Season one will not include the murders committed by Manson’s followers.

On “Game of Thrones,” he played Renly Baratheon, the younger son of House Baratheon who was assassinated by a shadow creature created by his brother’s adviser.

He’s excited about “Aquarius,” despite a slightly strange start to filming. The day he arrived on the set, a shaman cleared the aura in his trailer and throughout the set. His only concern was what bad they thought was going to happen if there hadn’t been a blessing.


9 p.m. May 28, NBC. All 13 episodes will be available on other video-on-demand platforms.