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Friday, May 29, 2015

PILOT REVIEW: Aquarius

AQUARIUS











Starring: David Duchovny, Grey Damon, Gethin Anthony, Emma Dumont, Claire Holt, with Michaela McManus, and Brian F. O'Byrne

Created by John McNamara
Written by John McNamara, Directed by Jonas Pate

THE PREMISE: Aquarius is a period drama set in 1967 Los Angeles where veteran police sergeant Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) teams up with an undercover cop, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) in the hippie world in an attempt to find the missing Emma Karn (Emma Dumont). What they don't know at the outset is that Emma has actually joined up with a young Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). Rounding out the main cast are Emma's parents, Grace and Ken (Michaela McManus and Brian F. O'Byrne). Grace has a past with Hodiak while Ken is connected to Manson.

THE GOOD: I love the period setting (as I always do) and I like the idea of a backstory to a story that everyone knows quite well. David Duchovny is the strongest part of the cast, coming off as the veteran that he is in the cast. Grey Damon is solid as the undercover cop while Emma Dumont is interesting in her role. The show manages to bring in some other 60s elements like the Civil Rights movement

THE BAD: The biggest problem I have with Aquarius is Gethin Anthony as Charles Manson. He doesn't do a horrible job but he's not nearly as dynamic as I feel like he needs to be. He's underplaying it too much. There's nothing wrong with doing a show where you know the ending but if you're going to do that, you need dynamic performances. When there's a character as notorious as Charles Manson, you better make sure you have someone who can just dominate every scene he's in. And Gethin Anthony does not. Whether the story is always about him or not, he needs to be the biggest presence in the show. I don't know a ton about the real Charles Manson but he was a cult leader so there has to be an element of charisma and I don't see that here. The pilot was also a little slow moving at times.

BOTTOM LINE: NBC is trying a new programming approach but putting the entire season of Aquarius online right after airing the pilot. But unfortunately there was nothing here that made me want to binge the season. It's not bad, but it's not compelling enough. That's not to say that I may not give it another shot, but it's not appointment TV.

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