SDCC 2012: Pilot Review - The Devil Is Your Landlord In '666 Park Avenue'

The 666 Park Avenue pilot review is part of MTV Geek's ongoing San Diego Comic-Con coverage.

You would think these days, people would read the fine print when something seems too good to be true—especially when that something is a massive, rent-free apartment in Manhattan inside of the towering Drake Apartments on 999 Park Avenue. And you’ll want to be especially careful about what you sign when the person handing you the papers is real estate magnate Gavin Doran (Lost’s Terry O’Quinn).

Doran’s infernal bargains with the residents of the Drake (and the doom comes crashing down on their heads) is the basis of 666 Park Avenue, an intriguing mix of sex, business, politics, and the occult in a building where seemingly everyone can be bought for a price.

The focus of the series, and the new subjects of Gavin’s attentions are new residents Henry (Dave Annable) and Jane (Rachel Taylor), who’ve been hired on as the Drake’s new building managers. This unmarried couple is new to the city—he’s taken a job with the Mayor’s office that might offer Gavin some perks in his nexus of real estate and political dealings, while she’s a student of architecture whose curiosity might shed light on the mysteries of the building.

Oh, that’s right—the Drake is a landmark structure with what emerges as a long, possibly hidden past centering on a disused room in the basement bearing occult symbols. Certainly one of the central mysteries of the series will be how Drake and the building are connected, and whether Jane will be able to survive whatever she discovers. Plus, the other residents of the building have their own ambitions and desires to fill (even ones they don’t know about) and seeing Gavin orchestrate circumstances to make them more pliable for a deal will be another hook to the series.

In a lot of ways, 666 Park puts me in the mind of another spooky building series, An American Horror Story which ramped up the sex and violence while making the piece of architecture at its center a subject of curiosity for the viewer. The pilot doesn’t go to the grotesque peaks (or nadirs) of that show, nor is it really as referential. But neither show is at all coy about their supernatural content, or using an obvious music cue to kick up the tension (the score will swoop and soar with strings and percussion when things are about to get bad), and 666 is happy to trot out a warning spirit or a gateway to hell to keep us invested. There’s even a little girl, Nona (Samantha Logan) who knows more than she’s letting on. And both shows share a preoccupation with the corruptibility of the average person—Jane and Henry are already falling under Gavin’s spell to some extent, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes his pitch for their souls.

Oh, don’t think I’m calling 666 Park Avenue some kind of lift from AHS (which was itself mostly lifts from horror movies)—instead, look at it in terms of how well both are able to draw on a similar pool of subject matter. If this series has a road map leading to some final, compelling mystery (and if Gavin can keep doling out attractive deals with his unwitting occupants), then like its FX counterpart, it’ll easily land an audience.

666 Park Avenue will air Sundays this fall on ABC.

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