One of the producers of Law & Order and the US Life on Mars creates a new horror series, albeit one that feels intensely familiar. You can check it, but will you continue to check it out?
666 Park Avenue seems to show its hand very early. Set in an upscale Manhattan apartment building called The Drake, the tenants have all made pacts with the devil or at least some mysterious demonic force. Or perhaps not so mysterious as the case may be, with Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) calling in one of his debts from a violinist before the credits roll. It’s a high-concept that you would expect from one of the co-execs on J.J. Abrams’s Fringe, although in this pilot it feels a little too heavily influenced by twisty shows of days gone by. You can almost imagine the boardroom meeting in which “The Twilight Zone meets Rosemary’s Baby” was pitched. As lights hit the ritzy sign for 999 Park Avenue, a shadow is cast that reads out the titular “666 Park Avenue”, and that’s about as subtle as we get.
Ambitious couple Jane Van Veen (Australia’s Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable) subsequently answer an ad to be the residential co-managers of The Drake, and it seems their luck has finally changed. Jane impresses Doran and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams) with her mastery of architectural terms, and they begin living in a luxurious apartment overlooking the city. Yet as Jane begins to investigate the building, she suspects that it wasn’t always used for residential purposes. An eclectic set of tenants – including frustrated playwright Brian (Robert Buckley) and his wife Louise (Mercedes Masohn) – populate the building, along with the young Nona Clarke (Samantha Logan), who possesses unique gifts.
It’s terrific to see that a new horror drama series that involves neither vampires or werewolves, at least not yet. This show could literally go anywhere, and perhaps that is at least partly the problem with this pilot. There are at least half a dozen plot points set up for future directions of the series, but there is no clear line through to grab onto. Jane and Henry, ostensibly our heroes of the piece, are likeable enough albeit somewhat hamstrung by not having a hell of a lot to do in their debut outing. Yet we seem to already have our villains firmly established, so hopefully it will be a case of fleshing them out rather than being a ‘monster of the week’ series.
Forthcoming weeks promise that The Drake will unveil its secrets, and Whoopi Goldberg will appear in an upcoming episode. Her appearance in genre show Star Trek: The Next Generation signalled the start of good things for that series, so hopefully her presence earlier in the run of 666 Park Avenue will mean a rapid rise in quality. There’s enough here to keep us viewing for at least a few more episodes, but like the woman who lives across the street from playwright Brian, we hope it does more than tease.
666 Park Avenue airs on Sundays at 10:00 pm Eastern/9:00 pm Central in the US, and on Mondays at 9:20pm in Australia on Fox 8.