'Aquarius' Canceled at NBC

'Aquarius' – ITV Global Studios Entertainment

Californication star David Duchovny returns to broadcast television with this period cop drama, which Tomorrow Studios is producing for NBC. Set in the late 1960s, it features Duchovny as an L.A. police sergeant who starts tracking a suspicious small time criminal called Charles Manson.

NBC's Aquarius experiment has come to an end.

The network has canceled the summer Charles Manson drama starring David Duchovny, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The project from creator John McNamara was originally picked up straight to series with Duchovny attached. NBC launched the show in summer 2015, with the period drama becoming the first broadcast show to be streamed in its entirety following its premiere. NBC put all 12 episodes online for four weeks following its series debut.

Aquarius bowed May 28 and, when factoring in seven days of delayed viewing, rose 91 percent from its paltry 1.05 rating among adults 18-49 to a 2.01 across all platforms. The network moved the low-rated series from Thursdays to Saturdays to finish up its run after handing out a surprising early renewal.

NBC again experimented with the drama's season-two premiere, giving it a rare ad-free debut for its two-hour bow on Thursday, June 16. It collected 2.7 million total viewers and a weak 0.4 rating among adults 18-49. Week two slipped even further, drawing only 1.7 million total viewers and a stable 0.4 in the demo, with the latter holding in week three. The latter figure was down a tenth from the final three episodes of season one — which aired on Saturdays — last season. After hitting pause for the Olympics after seven episodes, the drama was moved to Saturdays starting Aug. 27 where it finished its season-two run. The Sept. 10 season finale, now the series finale, drew 1.2 million viewers and a 0.2 rating.

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke told reporters at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in August that the chances for a renewal for the drama were "tough." 

The decision to end the drama comes after showrunner McNamara told THR ahead of its series debut that he envisioned the drama running for six seasons. "I planned out the show in terms of six seasons, and every season is approximately six months," he said. "If you Wikipedia Manson, he was doing stuff, some of which we portray in the show, and some of which we are making leaps and connecting dots ourselves. He was not inactive. He’s a psychopath and we do not shy away from that. I don’t believe you’re going to finish watching episode 13 and say, 'Wow, that was a big jerk-off — he didn’t do anything!' He goes there. It’s not going to have a happy ending — we all know that, but that actually informs the suspense nicely in a way that I feel allowed us occasionally to slow down the storytelling a little bit."

The cancelation, however, frees up Duchovny for possible new installments of The X-Files. The six-episode revival drew big ratings for Fox last winter and entertainment president David Madden told reporters at TCA in August that the network is “in significant talks with the three principals” — those being Duchovny, fellow star Gillian Anderson and creator Chris Carter — for more. A day later, Duchovny wished his longtime co-star a happy birthday on Twitter and expressed optimism about another onscreen reunion for Mulder and Scully. "If you see Dana, tell her Fox says she might wanna polish up the ol’ badge soon-ish,” he wrote.

The news also comes after a triumphant premiere week showing for NBC, thanks to solid starts for new series The Good Place and This Is Us, the latter which received a full-season pickup after just one episode. While the network has struggled to find similar success with scripted series during the summer, it boasts several unscripted performers such as America's Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior and Better Late Than Never, all of which have been renewed.