‘666 Park Avenue’ Pilot Recap: “This Place Will Keep You on Your Toes”

As a rule, I’m wary of any show that a network tries to promote as a “guilty pleasure.” That’s usually code for: “We know this stinks, but we hope you’ll think that’s intentional so that you can laugh at it ironically.” Nevertheless, ABC has had some success taking this approach with shows like ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Revenge’, and would very much like to lump the new supernatural soap opera ‘666 Park Avenue’ in that category.

Here’s the deal: The series is basically ‘Melrose Place’ meets ‘Fantasy Island’ meets ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Young married couple Henry and Jane (Dave Annable from ‘Brothers & Sisters’ and Rachael Taylor from last year’s failed ‘Charlie’s Angels’ reboot) are hired as the new managers of the fabulous Drake Apartments, a high-end luxury building with a mysterious past. (For the record, its address is actually supposed to be 999 Park Ave., but the numbers flip upside down or something.) The place is owned by Gavin and Olivia Doran (Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams), and everything about it seems too good to be true, except for the fact that Gavin is apparently the Devil. He’ll grant the building residents their greatest desires – money, career success, the return of a deceased loved one, etc. – and all they have to do is sign over their souls.

Should anyone fail to meet the terms and conditions of Doran’s contract, they’ll get swallowed by the building. For example, in the ‘Pilot’ episode, Doran forces a man named John to murder a judge in return for the resurrection of his dead wife. John goes through with it, and his wife comes back, but her body will deteriorate until he murders someone else of Doran’s choosing. When John refuses, the wife is taken away and he’s sucked into a portal to hell through the wallpaper in his apartment.

Henry and Jane are oblivious to this, of course, but Jane is nosy. After she finds a dragon mosaic on the floor of the basement, she does some research and discovers that the building used to be the headquarters of a secret society that held rituals down there. Undoubtedly, this will come back around again later.

The show pulls out most of the familiar and expected haunted house tropes: flickering lights, spooky noises, mysterious shadowy figures in the background of scenes, etc. A young girl who steals trinkets from the apartments is almost certainly the ghost of Olivia Doran’s dead daughter.

As far as all that goes, this is no ‘American Horror Story’. The scary bits are pretty tame and network safe. This is really more of a glossy soap with a mild horror spin. It has some cheesy aspects (including the show’s title), but is at least modestly entertaining. O’Quinn and Williams are both ideally cast and fairly fun, but the young couple is bland and uninteresting. I have a hard time identifying with or caring about them.

I didn’t dislike the pilot, but by the same token, I wasn’t totally convinced that I need to watch again. Considering the premiere episode’s lousy ratings, it’s probably for the best that I don’t get too attached to it. The show will be very lucky to stay on the air long enough to complete the season.

1 comment

  1. Chaz

    Yeah I hadnt even heard of it till it premiered, so what does that tell you? It sounds like it could be fun, but with American Horror Story: Asylum coming soon, I could really care less 🙂

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