NBC’s new Aquarius, about a cop working in Los Angeles at the time of the rise of cult leader Charles Manson, originally was envisioned as a novel series, creator John McNamara said this afternoon. Until Marty Adelstein told him it was a terrible idea, because in a novel you can’t hear the music and music was one of the main characters. “That was 2008 and we’ve been developing it ever since,” McNamara said.
One year ago last month, NBC announced that, following the end of his Showtime series Californication, David Duchovny would reunite with former Showtime topper Bob Greenblatt for the period drama. NBC gave the event series a 13-episode straight-to-series order, marking a return to broadcast TV for Duchovny, who starred in Fox’s hit The X-Files, with which Greenblatt also was involved as a Fox exec at that time.
The series is “not purely about Manson,” McNamara cautioned, calling it a “work of historical fiction.”
The show begins when Duchovny’s police detective character first hears about Manson, who has been arrested for pimping. “Charlie Manson was nothing, until he became Charlie Manson,” Duchovny told reporters during his show’s allotted 15 minutes of speed dating with reporters at NBCU Summer Press Day. The show, he added, is a ” ’60s procedural,” which he found interesting because the police force “doesn’t have access to all this bullshit CSI to solve cases. You have to use your brains and do police work and …we get to crack some heads too. Then we’ve got this guy named Charlie Manson turning into something over here while we’re looking away too much.”
Duchovny, who was the oldest cast member onstage and therefore the only one alive at the time of the Manson Family murders, said the man “has come to represent a look back at the ’60s, as if looking for something – trying to figure out something from the ’60s that we haven’t figured out yet.” The actor theorized Manson pushed the country to the “Reagan… and Bush” right, because the headline-grabbing murder of actress Sharon Tate and others represented to many “what happens when hippies take over — mayhem, madness. As a country we keep coming back to this point,” Duchovny added.
Asked if working on the series had creeped him out, Duchovny responded, “I did The X-Files — nothing creeps me out.”
“Speaking thereof– ” the reporter continued.
“No, no — we’ll do that later, but not now,” Duchovny interrupted, anticipating a question about Fox’s recently announced The X Files reboot as a six episode event series. “I should have said, ‘I did Californication – nothing creeps me out’.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.