Tuesday, October 23, 2012

666 Park Avenue

I thought I knew what this show was going to be about before I started watching. I thought it was going to be Rosemary's Baby meets Desperate Housewives--you know, that kind of slick and over-the-top drama that ABC likes to dish up with a supernatural twist. I thought John Locke (er, Terry O'Quinn) and Wilhelmina Slater (er, Vanessa Williams) were going to tempt various people into selling their souls and be all deliciously evil and bitchy.

It's actually not like that at all. And while I didn't know what I was getting into, the bad news is the writers don't seem able to figure it out either.

Don't start thinking that the show is terrible though--because it isn't. It's just suffering from the typical freshman year problem of not knowing what kind of show it wants to be. Is it a scary story about a haunted apartment building? Is it a tale of innocence lost and how easily men and women can be seduced and corrupted? Or is it a cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for? Right now it's trying to be all of the above, and none of those pieces are really working as well as they should.

But you'd watching him in anything, right?

 Here's the synopsis from the internets:
If you could make one wish, what would it be? And what would you do to get it? At 666 Park Avenue, all of your dreams and burning desires can come true: wealth, sex, love, power, even revenge. But just be careful what you wish for, because the price you pay...could be your soul. Welcome to The Drake, the premiere apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Owned by the mysterious Gavin Doran and his sexy wife Olivia, The Drake is home to dozens of residents who are unaware they're living in the dark embrace of supernatural forces. They think their dreams are all coming true, only to find they've been lured into making, what feels like, a deal with the Devil.

When a young Mid-western couple - Jane Van Veen and Henry Martin- are hired to manage The Drake, they soon discover that evil, obsession, and manipulation has a home. 
I just love putting the network-written descriptions of shows into these reviews because they are completely hilarious and overly dramatic.

I think I get what the show runners are trying to achieve with 666 Park Avenue. In a post-LOST world (there's that term again), if you tried to sell the idea of a show centered around a building where people make deals with the devil, the network is going to come back with, "but what ELSE is going on?" So now we need to make a larger, more twisty mystery with demonic possession and secret rooms and bleeding walls and creepy children and blah blah blah. But right now it doesn't feel like all these pieces of the puzzle are going to come together in any elegant way. We may only be 4 episodes in, but you need to get the feeling that there is a plan behind the madness.

So far, the most effective plot is the one that gets top billing in the synopsis above: people are tempted to sell their souls in exchange for their desires. Ok, got it. And it makes sense that Gavin has some kind of long game plan in store for the new couple in the building, Jane and Henry. But that doesn't actually seem to be the main plot at this point. The main plot is the new building manager, Jane, wandering through the building and discovering all these creepy...well, things, and just wondering to herself what is going on instead of RUNNING AWAY AS FAST AS SHE CAN. I don't know about you, but the first time I see a little girl dressed all in white with skin the color of a slug clutching an old doll and whispering, "don't let him out" I am out of there. Jane's response seems to be going for more unaccompanied nocturnal wanderings in her skimpy PJs to the basement. My point is that for the ostensible heroine, she makes some spectacularly bad decisions.

Oh, HELL NO. See ya wouldn't wanna be ya, bitches.

But again, it's not that the show is bad. The third episode actually had some genuinely scary moments (mostly involving the aforementioned girl and dolls) and I find myself wanting to know what the hell is going at The Drake. So clearly the mysteries are pulling me in...but I can recognize that they are kind of fumbling around at this point.

I'd recommend the show to genre fans, but if you're not really one who enjoys tales of the supernatural variety you might want to skip it. Personally, I have found this is a great show to have on in the background while doing something around the house. It doesn't require your total attention, but has enough of interest to keep me watching...at least for now. I'll give them through November sweeps and then see where we stand.

666 Park Avenue airs Sunday night at 10:00 on ABC.

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