Monday, October 1, 2012

'666 Park Avenue' Review: Spooky, Sexy Fun

Would you sell your soul to the Devil to get what you want? Love? Sex? Money? Revenge? It's a question as old as time, and one that's at the center of ABC's spooky new drama, 666 Park Avenue

Terry O'Quinn, so fascinatingly inscrutable on Lost, stars as Gavin Doran, the mysterious owner of The Drake, an upscale apartment building in New York City's ritziest neighborhood.Vanessa Williams plays his wife, Olivia, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more compelling pair of TV veterans. Both stars exude a natural sort of quiet, commanding power, which is perfect when you're playing Mr. and Mrs. Evil.

It's not immediately clear whether Olivia is complicit in Gavin's supernatural dealings, or whether she's also a victim of them. She reveals half-way through the pilot episode that she has a daughter who died many years ago in a car accident, which ads an intriguing potential new facet to her relationship with Gavin. Maybe Olivia made her own binding deal with the Devil on her daughter's behalf? Or maybe her grief sent her over to the dark side. Time will tell. 

Rachael Taylor (freed from the horrors of Charlie's Angels) and Dave Annable (Brothers and Sisters) play Jane and Henry, a pair of wide-eyed Midwesterners who move to NYC with dreams of making it in the big city. She's an out of work architect who dabbles in historical preservation, and he's a lawyer who works for the Mayor. Before you can say "be careful what you wish for," Jane and Henry are hired by Gavin as the new resident managers of The Drake. 

It's clear from the onset that Henry's powerful connections are what Gavin is really after, although it's not revealed why exactly (the Devil has political ambitions, it seems). But it's Jane who seems to get the brunt of the supernatural shenanigans in the666 Park Avenue pilot. She's quickly plagued by spooky dreams, visions of ghosts, and devilish manipulations by Gavin and Olivia. Taylor and Annable are both good in the pilot — believably hopeful and naive, but with enough potential darkness to be interesting as the show progresses. 

The Drake is filled with various other characters that also add to the intrigue: A struggling writer who is jealous of his wife's success and lusts after his gorgeous blond neighbor; an enigmatic teenage girl who steals things from the other residents; a widower who yearns to have his wife back (a murder on Gavin's behalf might just do the trick); and a doorman who was lobbying for the resident manager gig. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. 666 Park Avenue has an open-ended structure that provides for limitless story options — new residents could be revealed or move into the Drake at a moments' notice.

666 Park Avenue has the same DNA as last season's breakout scare-fest, American Horror Story, but the spooks have definitely been toned down for network television. That said, 666still has loads of genuine creepiness. The Drake's basement laundry room is particularly eerie (I might just throw my clothes away and buy nev ones if faced with doing my washing down there), and there's a grisly scene involving a malfunctioning elevator that's definitely nightmare-inducing.

It might not be one of the standout new shows of the season, but there's enough going on in666 Park Avenue to make it worth a watch. It's a well-cast, gorgeous looking slice of sexy, spooky fun that horror fans will likely relish. So make your own date with the Devil and check out 666 Park Avenue


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