HD Heads-Up: June 13-19

TV1 will use the final season of The Mentalist to launch a new David Duchovny drama that’s just gone to air in the US.

Aquarius will air 9.30 Tuesdays from June 16, only two-and-a-half weeks after the US and off the back of season seven of The Mentalist, which TVNZ’s already screened on-demand.

It stars Duchovny as a cop in 1960s LA whose investigation of a missing person turns out to have a Charles Manson link two years before the Tate-LaBianca slayings.

The Washington Post thought it “a cleverly imagined and handsomely realised tale of an old-school, inherently corrupt police force feeling the rumblings of several social tremors at once” that envisions Manson (Game of Thrones’ Renly Breton) as “both a tyrant and delusional buffoon, surrounded by mean-spirited female acolytes who commit crimes under his psychosexual spell”.

The New York Times said the series views the psychedelic Summer of Love through the “smoky filter” of a film noir and “blends contemporary mores with 1940s movie mystique to paint a disturbing — and compelling — portrait of the peace and love generation …

“The cinematography is especially counterintuitive — interiors are moodily dark, and colours are so drained that at times Aquarius looks like a black-and-white movie.

“Even at midday, the California sun looks dim: Some exterior scenes look as if they were shot through the gray-green glass of a vintage Coca-Cola bottle.”

But The Hollywood Reporter damned it as “a patchwork pastiche of 1960s clichés” while Variety likened it to  “a poor man’s LA Confidential in its revisionist look at the LAPD in a tumultuous earlier time”.

In any event, it sounds more promising than its lead-in and lightweight procedurals like the show it replaces, Unforgettable.

In the US, NBC took the unusual step for a network of releasing all 13 episodes online Netflicks-style to collect sought-after binge-watching data that will be more valuable to the network than Aquarius’ on-air ratings.

Says Variety: “Aquarius will be a test case for just how compelling the binge opportunity is. There’s a lot of hype around this viewing phenomenon in the age of Netflix, perhaps too much so.

“As much attention as the people who watch multiple episodes in a single sitting get, they may not necessarily be that significant a portion of a given show’s total audience.”

Speaking of ratings, TV2 will be hoping the Monday night “winter season” of hour-long Shortland Street episodes, which starts later than usual this year, on June 15, will help to revive its popularity in the wake of on-air, or linear, viewership slumping to unprecedented lows.

The season opens with Ferndale’s worst kept secret finally being revealed and will get a promotional boost with TV2’s network premiere of The Hangover Part III 24 hours earlier.

The rest of the week’s coming attractions in HD are:

  • Adventures in Zambezi (TV2, 7.00 Saturday)
  • Ocean’s Twelve (TV2, 8.40 Saturday)
  • Killer Joe (TV2, 11.05 Saturday)
  • The Virginity Hit (TV2, 1.05am Sunday)
  • The Girl (TV2, 2.45am Sunday)
  • The Smurfs 2 (TV2, 6.30 Sunday)
  • Win Win (TV3, 10.30 Sunday)
  • Taken (TV3, 8.45 Wednesday)
  • Conan the Barbarian (TV2, 8.30 Friday).

Other HD highlights for the week include the return of Botched Up Bodies (TV3, 9.30 Thursday), and the premieres of House Hunt (TV1, 8.00 Sunday), in which a cross-section of Kiwis try to buy their first home, and Reality Trip (TV3, 9.30 Monday), in which young New Zealanders visit Asia to experience first-hand the casualties of their consumerism.

Notable guest stints include Cybill Shepherd and Jeffrey Tambor on SVU (TV3, 9.30 Saturday), and Samuel L Jackson, Stephen Merchant and Amy Schumer on The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30 Friday).

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