TV Review: “666 Park Avenue” – Might Be Sent Packing

Written by Jessica Koroll October 04, 2012

With promises of ancient cult activity, mysterious visions, and upper east side glamour and intrigue, the producers of The CW’s “Gossip Girl” and ABC’s “Pretty Little Liars” give us their personal take on horror-inspired television to kick off the Halloween season. While the premise shows some promise and has Terry O’Quinn (of “Lost” fame) in the role of the devilish owner of the hotel, the show’s premiere falls short with its inability to balance storylines or follow through effectively with its horror aspects.

“You signed a binding contract. Now it’s time to saddle up.”

The show follows Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and her boyfriend, Henry Martin (Dave Annable), in their pursuit of the recently opened managerial positions in Manhattan’s 999 Park Avenue hotel. Upon receiving the positions and being given a room in the hotel to accommodate their stay, the young couple is given the responsibility of maintaining the building as well as their budding relationship with the hotel’s owners, Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) and his wife, Olivia Doran (Vanessa Williams). Slowly, however, Jane and Henry begin to realize that what appears to be their dream job may have much darker consequences for them than they first realized. The cast also includes the hotel’s many residents, each with their own secrets and personal desires that seemingly attract the demonic forces that control the hotel.

As a heavily character driven show, “666 Park Avenue” has managed to bring together an interesting mix of backgrounds and personalities. Although their role reeks of predictability (a young couple moves into their first real dream home only to have it turn into a possessed deathtrap), Taylor and Annable are believable and likable in their roles. When Jane stands up to Gavin Doran and proves that her knowledge of architecture and historical preservation would be an asset to the hotel’s future, she’s confident and sure of her abilities, while Henry beams with pride and is quick to back her up. They’re not depicted as completely naive or too in love as many other couples in this role are. They’re young, recent university graduates, who are willing to work their way up the social ladder and I find myself wanting to see them succeed, despite the unfortunate situation they have found themselves in.

“This is New York. Not everyone gets to make it.”

This does, however, lead me to one of the glaring writing pitfalls that make me feel as though I’m watching a sub-par horror movie. In the middle of the episode, Jane unexpectedly meets a resident of the hotel in the underground garage while she’s cleaning up. It’s night time and his hands are covered in blood. While he claims that he accidentally injured himself, there is simply too much blood to temper the unease that Jane feels. When she tries to discuss this incident with Henry, he brushes it off and calls her paranoid. Cause, y’know, it’s completely unreasonable to think that there may be some violent, illegal activity occurring …in New York. There are many moments such as this where I find myself questioning the logic of the characters and am forced out of any immersion the show may have created.

It’s unfortunate, as the few residents we are introduced to in the first episode show potential, but due to the disorganized pacing, we are given very little info on who they are or what they’re position in the show’s plot is. Obviously, there is still a whole season to explore them further. But, as of now, I find myself feeling disconnected from the strange events that are occurring around them and disinterested in whether they survived or not. As mentioned earlier, Terry O’Quinn is the main antagonist of the show and nails every scene he’s in. Throughout the episode, he convincingly treads the line between kind, but firm, business owner and mysterious supernatural persona who is capable of using his power to his own advantage.

The premise is intriguing and, with a strong set of main characters and a unique setting, it has potential. Hopefully, with more time, the mysteries of the hotel will become more apparent and the obstacles that the cast are sure to face will leave a more chilling effect.

My rating: 6.5/10

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About Jessica Koroll

An English student with a taste for the surreal and love for all things science fiction, her thoughts generally linger on Star Trek, lit theory, and recent tv episodes. I'm also @korolline_

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