666 Park Avenue: TV Review
10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30 (ABC)
Rachael Taylor, Dave Annable, Terry O'Quinn, Vanessa Williams
ABC's new horror drama starring Rachael Taylor and Vanessa Williams, can't even make the devil seem frightening.
It could be that ABC’s new drama 666 Park Avenue will come down to two questions you’ll need to answer after you watch the pilot: “Is that all there is?” and “What more could I want?”
The first question is raised because this series seems so incredibly simple that it feels like the writers forgot to put in a bigger mystery -- or thought they’d reveal it right away and go from there. The show is about an Upper East Side apartment building that appears to be run by the devil, whose name here is Gavin (Terry O’Quinn), and the devil’s wife, Olivia (Vanessa Williams). It appears that you get to move into this incredibly awesome apartment and have your greatest desire(s) fulfilled in exchange for your soul -- or somehow doing the devil’s dirty work.
That might be a red herring. Maybe Gavin is not the devil. Maybe he’s, like, let’s see, the devil’s second- or third-in-command. He acts like the devil, though: When it’s time to pay up, you do -- or terrible things that are not particularly frightening will happen to you.
In any case, the apartment complex he runs is called The Drake. Into this den of supposed horrors comes the Midwestern couple Jane (Rachael Taylor) and Henry (Dave Annable), who can’t believe their good fortune -- the first sign something’s wrong. They not only get an apartment there, but also Gavin makes them the managers, so their apartment is super-awesome. Henry works at the mayor’s office, so he’s a smart guy who should know better. There must be something in the fine print, like, “In exchange for your super-awesome apartment, you both owe me your souls.”
The problem with 666 is there’s not much mystery to it. If there are greater mysteries -- and there are hints a few exist -- then they’re probably not bigger than the one we already know: The devil runs this apartment, and if you make a deal with him, it will end badly.
That brings us to the second question. For some viewers, knowing the premise so clearly and early on might not be a problem. Each week could provide any number of intriguing reveals about the residents; we see at least three in the pilot. However, they all kind of follow the same pattern: Do the devil’s bidding, stay alive. Try to move out or otherwise renege on your deal, watch the hell out.
On the plus side, it’s easy to watch O’Quinn do anything. He always looks evil, even when he’s not supposed to. There’s not enough for Williams to do in the pilot, but the camera always has loved her, so there’s that, at least until she busts out her character’s evil side.
Taylor and Annable also are likable, but you can’t shake the fact that they should know this is too good to be true; it’s tough to buy they’d be so easily duped. Perhaps the worst offense by 666 is that it’s not even an ounce scary. Maybe if the couple had moved into the complex and Gavin and Olivia were not so blatantly menacing, etc., weird things could have started happening slowly and more creepily, a la The Shining. Eventually the freak-out scare factor would rise, then maybe in the season finale we’d find out -- gasp -- he’s the devil! Who knows. But the show has chosen another path.