In case you were wondering, no, nobody in their right minds would live at a 666 address. The denizens of ABC’s “666 Park Avenue” actually live at 999 Park Ave. But when the light hits the raised numbers on the building exterior just so, the shadow reads “666.”
That out of the way, ABC’s latest serialized drama is pretty much what you wanted FX’s “American Horror Story” to be before you remembered that it’s a Ryan Murphy show, and as such, incapable of restraint. After a violist plays his fingers to bloody pulp, he returns to his apartment in The Drake and hastily packs a bag. Running out the main door and into a storm, he turns around at a noise…and gets sucked through a tiny panel in the front door and into oblivion. Creepy!
Also creepy are the overly confident Jane (Rachael Taylor) and Henry (Ben Annable), an earnest, lovey couple who have driven in from Queens about a job as building manager of The Drake. Henry was handpicked by the mayor to work in the mayor’s office, Jane smugs, while she has a degree in architecture that is currently gathering dust. Building owner Gavin Doran (Terry Quinn) doesn’t seem interested, until Jane rattles off some allegedly impressive questions about retrofitting the old building. Duly impressed, since he apparently knows nothing about how buildings, you know, don’t fall apart, Gavin offers her the job on the spot.
Success! Things are really starting to happen for this young couple! They have great jobs, a giant new apartment (the doorman is only slightly miffed at them for taking the job he’d been angling for), and lots of new neighbors they’re bound to be fast friends with! Like Brian (Robert Buckley), the playwright who may have the chiseled features of a male model (and we know from previous work, an equally chiseled torso to match), but who wears glasses and so is obviously, as his wife Lu says, “geeky cute.” Maybe Brian is a little too into spying on his sexy blonde neighbor across the way, but hey, his computer just happens to face the window. What’s he supposed to do, ignore her? Even when she takes a job as an assistant to his photographer wife? Not this geek!
Or how about Jane and Henry’s other new neighbor, overly accessorized Nona (Samantha Logan)? She helpfully tells new manager Jane about a leaky washer, and warns her about a petty thief roaming the halls. But twist! Nona is the thief! Shocking.
And then, of course, there are Gavin and his lovely wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams, freed from the freefall of late-season “Desperate Housewives”). They invite Jane and Henry to a gala at the symphony! And yeah, maybe Gavin spends a little too much time creepily eyeing the nape of Jane’s neck, and yes, it is slightly inappropriate for Olivia to secretly buy Jane a $4,000 Alexander McQueen gown, but they sure seem nice! Except when Olivia suddenly starts talking about her dead daughter over champagne and shopping, or when Gavin forces a grieving widower in the building to kill people to keep his zombie wife alive. But still! What’s a little necromancy or blackmail compared to the gift of an Alexander McQueen dress?
More importantly, what’s living over the gateway to hell compared with the chance to preserve a piece of genuine historical archirtecture like The Drake? Doing some research in the library (her Wi-Fi wasn’t set up yet, I guess), Jane discovers that the basement has a beautiful dragon mosaic and a door that is now blocked by cement. What could it all mean? I’m sure it’s nothing scary, like the vision Jane has of a former tenant flinging herself over the side of the building, whispering, “They’ll never let you leave.”
That tenant turns out to be the dead wife of the widower. When he’s unable to kill more than once—I thought it got easier with practice?—he loses first his wife and then is flung by Supernatural Forces into the wall of his bedroom, where it seems he’s plant food for the wallpaper vines. Is his apartment on the market yet?
And though Brian may be unable to bring his wife to orgasm (which is just absurd if you look at Buckley with your eyes), he’s not yet ready for the “temperamental” elevators to bash his wife’s head in. She’s hospitalized but it’s only a matter of time before he seeks some younger comfort, right? He just wants to be happy! As happy as Jane and Henry.
The longevity of their happiness is in doubt, however, especially when Nona fingers a necklace of Jane’s that was complimented by every single woman she encountered while wearing it, and has a sudden psychic flash of Jane tied up in the basement, wearing that McQueen, and screaming through a gag. Uh-oh!