'666 Park Avenue' Decants Decadence
But may need to pick up the pace to stay relevant
ABC’s sinister and sexy new drama 666 Park Avenue has made it quite clear that decadence for this fall is on the menu — and the Upper East Side is serving it up generously. Based on Gabriella Pierce’s eponymous novel, 666 gives viewers a glimpse into Park Avenue's fictional building, The Drake. But the frightful twist may present a problem for those who are expecting a Gossip Girl experience. The pricey high rise holds a dark past that viewers are trying to make sense of right out of the gate. The first few minutes of the pilot begin with a violinist on edge trying to escape a deal that cannot be met, only to be magically dragged back through the doorway to an implied baneful end. Though the interest of some viewers may have wavered up to this point, the old bait-and-switch method hooks you for good just minutes into the opening sequence.
Let’s not deny that a hurrah is necessary, if only for the choice production and casting. Production company Alloy Entertainment of Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries teams up with executive producers David Wilcox (Fringe) and Leslie Morgenstien (Gossip Girl) to ensure a racy result. But let’s not kid ourselves: it’s only the season premiere, and smart television audiences cannot be won over so easily. Yes, Terry O’Quinn (Lost) superbly plays our satanic villain Gavin Doran and, yes, Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives) plays his Machiavellian wife Olivia, but even so it would be wise to suspend our glee and wait to see how this show fares over time.
We are first introduced to a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed couple, formed by Jane (Rachael Taylor) and Henry (Dave Annable). These are perfect names suggesting such convenient naivete that, when they eventually sign documents in acceptance to the position as co managers of the building, we know that they are in for a hell of a contract — literally. Although Henry is a lawyer working for the Mayor and Jane is an unemployed but savvy architect, neither seem to give their papers the once over that might spare them future costs. As the innocent couple familiarize themselves with the building and its constituents, we soon realize inquisition always makes for good storyline progression. A dragon-crested secret society dating back to the early 1900’s, a cleptomaniac with a supernatural gift for seeing into the future, a murderer who only kills to make his wife live again, and a peeping tom of a writer who lusts after his neighbor while she undresses all frame the deliciously shady mystery of 666 Park Avenue. It’s safe to say that these elements of mystery orbit around the Durans: devilish owners who enjoy pernicious dealings and claim retribution when their clients cannot meet deadlines. The Durans have claimed particular interest in Henry, which may subsequently speak to their possible interest in politics. By focusing on Jane in order get to Henry, Olivia has snaked her way into a dubious friendship.
Thus, our televised modern day Adam and Eve are placed before us. Lust, greed, wrath, and pride have already turned out for this party of iniquity in the series premiere. Let’s see if the other three deadly sins will make an appearance in the second episode. Already, Jane poses an architectural interest in the building and is bound to dig up some unpleasantries through her research and dangerous curiosity. And yet, though the intrigue factor is there, something seems to be missing. The storyline tends to lag a bit in the middle where it should crescendo and, in order for viewers to maintain interest, the maze of malevolence needs to start its twists and turns very soon. Proposing a mash up of Steven King’s The Shining and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, 666 has set itself high expectations; the jury is still out on whether it can meet them, but for now, it seems highly improbable. If upcoming episodes don't pick up the pace, this series may be doomed to damnation.