ABC is riding very high right now. The commercial success of Revenge and Once Upon a Time, along with the critical success of Modern Family and Happy Endings have put the network in a position of cultural relevance they haven’t been in since the premiere of Lost and Desperate Housewives. With all of this popularity and goodwill, they could make any show in the world. Instead we get Park Avenue 666.
Starring Lost’s Terry O’Quinn and Ugly Betty’s Vanessa Williams, PA666 manages to accomplish the impossible; it feels like it could be aired in both 2005 and 2012 and somehow be outdated in both years. The show combines the campiness of American Horror Story with the over-the-top self importance of Smash, and yet is more fun than both of those shows.
The show follows Gavin and Olivia Doran (O’Quinn and Williams) as the owners of The Drake, a swanky uptown apartment complex that may or may not be a home for those who sold their soul to Satan. Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable) play a couple who get hired manage the apartment, and after a few bizarre encounters, such as meeting a man covered in blood and a petty thief, Jane begins investigate the history of the building. She discovers that the building was rooted in the occult and mobsters, yet no one seems to believe her.
Along with the Dorans and Jane & Henry, other tenants of the Drake include a peeping tom playwright and his photographer wife and a man who murders high figures to revive his dead wife. However the most mysterious is a character with no name, a teenager who sneaks into people’s rooms to steal belongings. While all of the characters are very one dimensional, she seems to have slightly more depth.
Park Avenue 666 transcends bad television, to be a beautiful mess of camp with a lack of self-awareness. The show relies on far too many jump scares that you see coming ten miles away, CGI effects that are hopefully unfinished, and the acting is beyond wooden, though Williams is obviously having a ball. Strangely though, I enjoyed watching this pilot just because of the ridiculously over-the-top nature of itself. I had a good time with its flaws. If something is going to be bad, be it a TV show or movie or an album, it should go all out and embrace its flaws.
This is just a pilot, so the show obviously has a lot of room to grow, however the basic concept of the show doesn’t have much wiggle room. The show is so close to realizing how over the top it is, and if the show stepped back and had fun with itself, people would watch Park Avenue 666 genuinely, instead of hate-watching it like I feel a large portion of this show’s audience will.