Young impressionable girl sneaks out of the family home to attend wild party with the sweet but slightly naughty boyfriend who is trying to impress her, but slightly out of his depth himself. Enter femme fatale who seduces him away with her wiles and so Emma is left alone in a room full of strangers, until two girls and their mysterious,slightlyolder male friend take her under their wing, so far, so formulaic except this older male is Svengali and infamous cult leader and murderer Charlie Manson.
Girl goes missing, enter Fox Mulder... I mean Sam Hodiak of course, lead in the new 60s set reimagining of the Manson Era, Aquarius. A punchbag scene to show Duchovny is still a fine specimen( running scenes and a swimming pool were used to similar effect back in the 90s ) and cry for help from Emma, the girl's mother who has obviously has a past with Sam.The underlying indication is that this is the girl who got away, there was even a frisson here that the child might be his,( but no evidence, just surmising!)
Sam sets out to right some wrongs.. Shame he has lost his car keys though! Finding the errant young whippersnapper, he "asks " the boyfriend some questions and gets some interesting answers after applying some foot pressure to said cocky lad's throat.
Sam has his work cut out of course, these beatnik, drop out types are a wily old bunch and helping "a pig" with his enquiries is not high on their list of things to do. Meanwhile totally oblivious to this, Charlie and his predominantly female entourage sit in circles, playing guitar, getting high on grass and 'Shrooms.
"Charlie has a vision," one says "one day he is going to be more famous than the Beatles"
She's not wrong, but it won't be his prison learnt guitar skills that put him in the public eye.
We also get the actually rather beautiful Grey Damon, an actor I am totally new to, as Brian Shafe, idealistic young undercover drugs officer whose attempt to get riot cops to tread a little softer gets him banged up in the paddy wagon, moments before being partnered with the frankly hackneyed, hit first ask questions later Sam. Shafe's youthfulness and being "down with the kids" deemed useful to the investigation that the powers that be want tucked up before bedtime due to the fact Emma's daddy is a lawyer and political big noise. Of course these two polar opposites butt heads almost straight away and the "Miranda Rights " scene is a delight to behold!
Completing the crime fighting trio is Claire Holt's female beat cop, putting up with the sexist "banter" which today would be classed as harassment. In her first few moments, she showed herself to be moral and gutsy, I liked her. Here kids are being activist over the war, and females arrested in numbers unheard of by police. Her purity of heart makes her perfect to use as bait for our boys as they to try to hunt down "Charlie " and thus Charmaine is thrust into a really seedy underbelly of drugs and questionable sharing of sexual partners. It get's pretty close to the wire there,Shafe acting as go between for one of Manson's men and Charmaine and having to think fast on his feet to save her at the very last minute, but it seems Charmaine is now hooked on undercover work.
They learn of Manson's wholly unsavoury past and make a stunning connection, leading to a final scene which is utterly disturbing and actual is a vivid reminder of just what a nasty piece of work the Real Manson was.
The thirty -nine year old cynic in me is convinced that Manson's "no one understands you like, I understand you " tape would not be so easily believed by the daughter of a well to Lawyer ,but I am utterly impressed with Gethin Anthony, another Brit cutting a swathe for himself in US TV. Am I sure he can carry such snap iconic character through this first series? Well the jury is out, but his demeanour and accent are good enough for me to be rooting for him to do just that.
My mind does not quite buy Mr Duchovny in this role, but he may bed in properly by the end of episode Two, loving Claire Holt too, overall a show with potential.