Mul­der ver­sus Man­son

David Du­chovny’s new dawn in Aquarius

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

IF he didn’t al­ready have a de­voted fe­male fol­low­ing, David Du­chovny is do­ing a con­vinc­ing sales pitch of him­self as in­tel­lec­tual cat­nip, as he makes an ar­gu­ment against the lazy ex­ploita­tion of women on tele­vi­sion.

He’s talk­ing to TV Guide about his latest se­ries, Aquarius, which he says grap­pled with its treat­ment of some heavy sex­ual themes – not to men­tion vi­o­lence – tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion, as it does, from the mur­der­ous life and deaths story of Charles Man­son.

Orig­i­nally com­mis­sioned for broad­cast tele­vi­sion, with all the nu­dity and lan­guage of a ca­ble pro­gram, Chan­nel Seven’s new crime drama was a brave experiment for a main­stream US net­work to take on.

As free-to-air net­works around the world fight to keep au­di­ences from mi­grat­ing to more risqué, niche dra­mas on stream­ing ser­vices, NBC took a chance on this se­ries, not only be­cause of its con­fronting sto­ry­lines but in of­fer­ing it to view­ers as a fullsea­son down­load (made avail­able here on Fox­tel and Seven’s joint ven­ture Presto).

While that may all be tech­ni­cal white noise to most TV fans, the ca­ble model al­lows pro­duc­tions to push the en­ve­lope in terms of plot and per­for­mances. And it’s a new age Du­chovny was ex­cited to em­brace.

“I just felt it was strong and a re­ally great se­ries, so very dif­fer­ent from any­thing else on net­work TV here in the States that I couldn’t be prouder of it,” Du­chovny says.

Play­ing homi­cide de­tec­tive Sam Ho­diak, who goes un­der­cover to ex­pose Man­son and his “fam­ily” cult two years be­fore his in­fa­mous Hel­ter Skel­ter killings, the Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion star says “the show that we are mak­ing is ex­actly the same show” he was pitched be­fore the scripts found a net­work home.

Ini­tially wor­ried the broad­cast rules might com­pro­mise the se­ries, he says the pro­duc­tion was “forced to be even bet­ter within those stric­tures be­cause you can’t just rely on curs­ing or show­ing a naked body … you re­ally have to tell the story”.

While his own char­ac­ter is “pretty well suited up, I was think­ing more about the fast and loose use of fe­male naked bod­ies which is what a lot of tele­vi­sion shows do … not that my own per­sonal naked body is a draw here.” Sorry, ladies.

Crit­ics may have chipped the show’s writ­ers over the lib­er­ties taken on the fac­tual de­tail sur­round­ing the Man­son mur­ders, Du­chovny says the cast and crew had a lot of fun teas­ing out the con­tem­po­rary is­sues which still res­onate from this 1960s story.

“I think it’s ob­vi­ous when we look back su­per­fi­cially the clothes, the hair and the mu­sic that a lot of new stuff was go­ing on,” he says.

“But for me, what’s in­ter­est­ing about the ’60s was that we have, in our show, we have all these dif­fer­ent move­ments … the hip­pies, Black Power, Chi­cano power in LA, gay rights, anti-Viet­nam, anti-war move­ment. You have this re­ally po­tent brew of so­cial ac­tiv­ity, of for­ward-look­ing so­cial ac­tiv­ity and it all comes to a screech­ing halt in many ways and Man­son is held up at the end of the ’60s, by the media, as the cau­tion­ary tale of what’s go­ing to hap­pen if the kids keep get­ting to do what the kids want to do, which is lis­ten to their mu­sic, take their drugs and have their sex.”

On a less se­ri­ous note, the 55-yearold re­calls the wide-eyed re­sponses from his younger cast mates such as Grey Damon (who stars op­po­site as Brian Shafe, a long-haired, vice squad rookie as­signed to help Ho­diak in­fil­trate the Man­son cult).

In one scene, which Du­chovny ad­mits mir­rored his dy­namic with Damon off cam­era, Ho­diak mocks the cocky Shafe, say­ing: “You kids … you think you in­vented ev­ery­thing.”

“It was ac­tu­ally funny watch­ing some­body [Damon] have to re­search the ’60s,” Du­chovny says.

“I was like, ‘I don’t have to re­search it, I lived it’. He was like, ‘Man, this is cool, look at all this cool stuff that was hap­pen­ing’, and I was like, ‘What? You didn’t know that?’ and they don’t. But maybe now they will.”

AQUARIUS

WED­NES­DAY, 8.30PM, SEVEN

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