Tube Talk: NBC enters a new age

By Paula Hendrickson
Television Columnist

The debut of NBC’s new 13-episode summer series, Aquarius, is getting attention for two things: 1) it marks David Duchovny’s return to broadcast TV since the end of The X-Files (his more recent series Californication ended its run on premium cable’s Showtime in 2014); and 2) NBC plans to test the Netflix model and release all 13 episodes for streaming after the “linear premiere” of the two-hour pilot.

If the latter is successful – and doesn’t cannibalize the ratings of Aquarius’s weekly episodes – this distribution method may change the way broadcast networks, well, broadcast. And binge viewers will rejoice because they won’t have to wait between new episodes.

A third, but equally notable, bit of trivia? Not only is Duchovny starring in Aquarius this summer, next winter he and his former co-star Gillian Anderson will reprise their iconic roles as Mulder and Scully in a much anticipated X-Files miniseries on Fox.

Anderson may be even busier than the double-duty Duchovny these days. Not only does she return as Dr. Du Maurier on NBC’s Hannibal (Thursday, June 4, after Aquarius), she’ll also be back as police detective Stella Gibson for the third season of the hit British drama, The Fall, which can be seen here on Netflix.

While anticipating the next chapter of Mulder and Scully’s ongoing search for the truth (which is apparently still out there), X-Files fans may just spend the summer flocking to NBC on Thursday nights to watch Duchovny on Aquarius at 8 p.m. and Anderson on Hannibal at 9 p.m.

Aquarius is a period drama set in 1967. Duchovny plays police detective Sam Hodiak, who is searching to find a friend’s missing teenage daughter (Bunheads’ Emma Dumont) thought to be living among hippies. Because free-loving, drug-using hippies wouldn’t trust a cop, let alone a middle-aged World War II vet like Hodiak, a younger undercover vice cop (Friday Night Lights’ Grey Damon) joins the hunt. Along the way they encounter the as yet unknown Charles Manson (Game of Thrones’ Gethin Anthony).

Hannibal is the delightfully creepy prequel story of Silence of the Lambs’ eccentric and manipulative serial killer Hannibal Lecter (exquisitely played here by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen). In prior seasons, Anderson’s Du Maurier was both Lecter’s professional peer and the psychiatrist who knows more of his dirty secrets than anyone else probably does. In the third season, she and Hannibal will be living the high life in Europe, where he has fled to escape capture. Is she playing along with his charade out of duress? Is she a willing participant? Or has she been manipulating him all along? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

While it’s yet to be seen if NBC’s plan to stream the entire season of Aquarius after the pilot airs will succeed or not, you’ve got to hand it to the network’s programmers who decided to run The X-Files stars’ new series back-to-back.

Programming notes

Aquarius airs Thursdays on NBC at 8 p.m., starting with a two-hour series premiere May 28, after which all episodes will be available for streaming at and other outlets.

Hannibal returns for a third season Thursday, June 4 at 9 p.m. on NBC.


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