The Age of David Duchovny (or Aquarius and really does it matter? Why are the names of these episodes so long?)....
I just binge watched Aquarius on Hulu and while it is fresh in my brain I have a few thoughts running through said brain.
First, it was a given that I was gonna watch this. I love me some David Duchovny and he is back in a suit looking all dapper and serious. Oh, sigh.... Second, I have been fascinated with the whole Manson cult thing since I was a little kid and my brother used to scare the shit out of me with stories about Helter Skelter, Revelations, etc. Like, I wasn't sure half the time if the Devil would come for me, or if Charlie himself would. But...
SOMETHING.WAS.OUT.THERE. Ya know? So, basically, this show follows the lives of some law enforcement people during the tumultuous late 1960's. Detectives, a young under-cover guy, a female uniformed officer... It also follows the possible (seriously hyped up for entertainment purposes) beginnings of one young Charles Manson and his band of incredibly messed up followers. The story of Charlie is always in the background, but there are other stories and cases that stand alone for most episodes.
Duchovny plays detective Sam Hodiak, who has his share of issues that generally make navigating his professional life a little more complicated than not. Sam has problems with women. And booze. And, well, mostly women and booze. He has an ex-wife that hates him, an ex-girlfriend that still loves him (sometimes, when she isn't screaming at him and telling him what a loser he is, which she generally does to her husband as well only her husband truly IS a loser but not for the reasons she is constantly telling him he is). Needless to say, Grace is the real loser, but I'm jumping ahead. Sam also finds himself helping various females in trouble along the way and sometimes he even acts like a stand-up guy. Except for when he doesn't.
As a crime drama I found this show to be OK. I mean, I watch a lot of crime dramas so....there is a standard sort of way they play out. What makes it interesting is the time period when it takes place. I actually found the Manson storyline to be less interesting than the storylines that were supposed to be the backdrop. I find it fascinating how far we have come in just less than 50 years. There is a good deal of dialogue regarding racial inequality, sex inequality - one of the supporting characters (Charmain Tully) gets berated daily by her "superior" officers, told to file, go get coffee, etc. Hodiak's partner Brian Shafe is married to an African American and they have a child. There is a storyline regarding their harassment at home that includes destruction of property, threats, etc. The 60's were not all peace and love is the point. We tend to forget that I think.
I did find most of the main characters to be more than one-dimensional. I like that in a show because we are all, of course, layer upon layer of personality. No one is always "good" or "likable" and the writing was reflective of that. Sam presents as a deeply complicated man who seems pretty straight-forward on the surface. He is an old-ish cop, not quite there in terms of retirement but definitely very seasoned. He tends to lean toward the physical but has the true capability of being deeper than your average brute. He has a drinking problem and he knows he does. He knows it makes him mean (his ex-wife refers to a spousal abuse incident at one point) and there is a point when he turns back to it that there is an obvious self loathing. But, a comfort and familiarity. We all gravitate toward comfort and familiar ground. Drinking and physical force are Sam's.
Brian seems like a perfect sort of young man at the beginning but this character too is multi-layered. The best digging into Brian's being comes when, as someone who experiences prejudice on a daily basis, he reveals a severe prejudice himself while working undercover. Brian's prejudice is against homosexuals. Sam, having grown up in the world of racial inequity, leans uncomfortably toward those tendencies, yet to Brian says something along the lines of - who cares who people love or how they love? in response to his partner's rant on the matter. I like the complexity of the main characters in this show. I like how they seem real and completely imperfect.
The women, unfortunately, are not given the same amount of depth. Although in this first season, I'll give the show a pass on this. They are establishing characters. Charmain is the most likely to emerge as a multi-dimensional role. Emma. with her twisted loyalties, may evolve either way. Grace is cold and stereotypical and that bothers me, but, it is a stereotype that DOES really exist. When she asks Sam at one point what happened to us? it is difficult to not talk to the TV in response because bitch I know EXACTLY what happened to you, you privileged brat...LOL. The Manson girls....well, we all know what happens with them.
Gethin Anthony does a great young Manson and it was cool to see him transform closer to THE Charlie as the season progressed. There is a ton of made-up stuff in the storyline and we know it is just there for entertainment purposes but, hey, that's the biz.
Oh, and those episode titles - all songs, song lyrics or actual Manson song writings from the 60s.
All in all, good stuff.
Escaping reality - one movie, book, fantasy at a time :)