Review: 666 Park Avenue
Here’s a surprising fact about 666 Park Avenue: it’s not set in 666 Park Avenue. It’s set in 999 Park Avenue. And this, folks, is the biggest shock of the show’s pilot episode which aired on ITV2 recently; a rather worrying fact when you consider that this is billed as a supernatural thriller series. Trying to combine the sophistication and glamour of Revenge with a supernatural element sounds like a good idea, but as this episode shows, it's not as easy as it sounds.
Gorgeous couple, Henry (Dave Annable) and Jane (Rachael Taylor), have just been employed as resident managers at the Manhattan apartment block, The Drake. Little do they know that this is a building filled with all sorts of quirky maintenance issues: flickering lights, leaky taps, man-eating walls, malfunctioning lift doors that crush people, etc. etc. The owners of the building, Olivia (Vanessa Williams) and Gavin (Lost's Terry O'Quinn), are a glamorous duo, but appear to know something about these dark happenings and may even be controlling them. A stark reminder that we should all check our housing contracts thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.
Among The Drake’s other kooky residents are the playwright, Brian (Robert Buckley), who is too busy eyeing up his neighbour to actually do any writing, and John, whose wife has recently been resurrected and keeps having nosebleeds. Poor love. The show works on the premise that Gavin offers his residents their deepest desires in return for a deadly price: “I fulfil needs” he often snarls – unfortunately, these needs don’t extend to fixing the dodgy lightbulbs, which means he won’t be winning Landlord of the Year any time soon.
The production of the whole programme is incredibly slick, as you might expect with a cast of this calibre, but the characters lack any real depth that might have you rooting for them. The lead protagonists are just a little bit bland, and Gavin’s demonic disposition didn’t frighten me any more than the packet of custard creams that I was steadily working my way through as I watched. It’s a shame, since if the show didn’t take itself so seriously, the script could potentially offer some comedic moments rather than being unintentionally funny. Take, for instance, when Jane unexpectedly bumps into her neighbour, who has been lurking in the shadows of an empty car park after popping out to do a quick murder that evening. She notices his bloodied hands, but does little more than offer him some hygiene advice as he runs off: “Wash that with soap!”
An abundance of thriller genre tropes – mood lighting, string instrument stabs and the occasional zombie wife – adds little to the suspense, although the CGI effects are used sparingly enough to be impressive and the drama is blissfully easy to follow. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to keep me hooked for more episodes (and since it’s already been cancelled after one season, it seems I’m not the only one to feel that way). For an hour of procrastination television, 666 Park Avenue is an entertaining watch, but I'm not sure I'll be checking back in any time soon.