666 Park Avenue

666 Park Avenue
Sunday | 10:00 pm | ABC

I had big expectations for 666 Park Avenue, simply given its time slot behind two of ABC’s most successful shows last fall. I was hoping that the show would be some combo of the fun fantasy aspects of Once Upon a Time and the frothy evil of Revenge. It falls short of those expectations, not in a terrible way, just kind of in a blah way. It’s easy to see how it could be deemed American Horror Story Lite instead.

The plot follows Henry Martin (Dave Annable) and Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor, being rewarded as the only Charlie’s Angel not phoning it in last year), a young couple newly hired to manage opulent The Drake Hotel on the Upper East Side. It’s owned by Gavin and Olivia Doran (Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams), who are evil. One of the things I did like about the pilot was that it set this up relatively straight-forwardly. We don’t know what or who exactly the Leonards are doing this, but they are legit evil, no ominous music and beating around the bush for multiple episodes.

Brian may be the devil, a devil, or just have a direct line to hell, but he’s working with some kind of serious mojo. One resident bargains for the return of his dead wife with the death of another person. When he doesn’t read the fine print, and learns he has to keep murdering people to keep her, she goes poof and he gets sucked into the wall by some creepy hands for his trouble. There’s also Brian Leonard, a playwright that’s spends a lot of time staring at the girl next door out the window, until she turns up as his wife’s new assistant, and his wife turns up almost being Final Destination‘d by an elevator. There’s a klepto girl who seems to be using her stash with some kind of psychic ability, a very creepy basement (mysterious seal, hidden door, flickering lights, etc.), and a whiny doorman. Erik Palladino, never change!

All of that has the potential to be really creepy, but it’s not really there yet. The pilot didn’t scare me once (provided, I didn’t help it by watching it during the day, surrounded by lots of indifferent people) but I think if it works a little harder it could have a great atmospheric tone. It would probably be a lot better on cable, as the AHS dig suggests. Still, the late miniseries The River and Harper’s Island did horror much more successfully on ABC and CBS respectively. This is a different sub-genre, I suppose, so we’ll see if it can ratchet up the eerie from week to week.

Long Term Prediction:
Sunday is jam-packed with quality programming so I doubt 666 Park Avenue will ever make the must-watch cut. Still, it’s one I’ll add to my weekly time-shifting schedule, if only to yell at Terry O’Quinn.

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