You’ve seen it on your subways. You’ve seen it on your taxis. You’ve seen it on your Twitter feed. And last night, it finally made its prime-time debut. That’s right, folks. 666 Park Avenue – the most ad-hyped new fall show by a mile – premiered in ABC’s 10-spot last night. Being the dutiful consumers that we are here at NYU Local, we had to check it out.
The premise is as follows: Jane and Henry are a beautiful but broke young couple that moves to Manhattan when Henry gets a job in the mayor’s office. Upon looking for an apartment, they stumble upon a management gig that allows them to live in The Drake, a historic and elegant apartment building owned by Gavin Doran and his wife Olivia. As the couple starts to detect some sinister, supernatural characteristics in The Drake, its owners and its residents, the two find that their setup is in fact too good to be true.
Riding the coattails of the FX’s American Horror Story and its hugely popular first season, this new horror-drama seems to have a promising concept. But in effect, the execution of 666 is so poor that the show is almost unwatchable.
The biggest problem with 666 Park Avenue – which debuted right after the return of the spring hit Revenge – is that its intended theme isn’t conveyed clearly at all. Judging from the show’s website, Gavin Doran (Lost’s creepy Terry O’Quinn) is supposed to be similar to Saw’s Jigsaw in that he tortures and kills his residents via mind games for a greater purpose: in this case, to see how far people will go to get what they truly desire. But because there is so much focus on the show’s protagonists Jane (Rachael Taylor) and Henry (Dave Annable), who don’t seem to desire much at all, Doran comes off as a static monster.
On top of that, 666’s cast is so pretty that it’s hard to take the horror seriously. Besides O’Quinn, everyone in the series could pull off popular kid in high school a little too well: from their chiseled cheek and jawbones to their gorgeous hair. What makes this type of horror effective is its ability to suspend your disbelief, and when you’re staring two handfuls of Barbie dolls, that’s a difficult task.
Although 666’s pilot does have one or two sincerely frightening moments, it seems as if ABC was afraid to fully commit to the horror aspect – regardless of whether or not it would be believable. The vast majority of the pilot consists of typical ABC drama scenes: buying a dress, spying on a neighbor while she undresses and chatting at the driving range. And with the direct competition of not only American Horror Story but also AMC’s The Walking Dead, 666 comes off as a timid knockoff.
To boot, the show is just plain tacky. Case in point: In one scene in 666’s pilot, a man gets eaten by a wall in his bedroom. Literally a wall.
So, if you missed 666 Park Avenue’s premiere last night, I have two things to say to you: kudos for evading the reach of ABC’s ad team, and don’t waste your time with this show.