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“666 Park Avenue” adds horror and highrises to ABC Sunday nights

| television editor

I’m not entirely sure if I will end up wanting to take up a permanent residence at The Drake, but I certainly am intrigued to see what happens next week on ABC’s “666 Park Avenue.”

If you missed the first episode, and you’re interested in watching it, stop reading now and come back afterward. If you’re not interested, keep reading, and I dare you not to go back and watch the pilot.

The pilot opens with a glimpse into the mystery at The Drake. When Henry Martin (Dave Annable) and girlfriend Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) become the new managers of The Drake, a high-class apartment building at 999 Park Avenue, they’re in for a few surprises—namely in the owner of the building, Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn). The couple quickly gets situated in their lavish Upper East Side home: they’re invited by the Dorans to a beautiful gala at the symphony, Henry and Gavin hit balls at the driving range, the couple meets a number of other residents and Jane discovers apparent secrets in the building’s history. But all of this is in the shadow of a very mysterious Gavin Doran and his relationships to a number of 999 Park Avenue’s residents.

As all pilots should, “666 Park Avenue” opens with the death of one of its residents (see the amazing show in the earlier ABC time slot, “Revenge”), allowing Henry and Jane to move in. In the wake of this death, we see firsthand how Gavin Doran promises his residents that he and The Drake can fulfill their burning desires, but always at a cost, of course. Plus, one death isn’t enough—there’s one other—and a serious injury—which will move us smoothly into the next episode.

The biggest question I have now is: who is Gavin Doran, really? His character is thoroughly creepy, but I wonder if O’Quinn could make him even creepier. In the first scene, where the resident violinist is killed off, something is missing. O’Quinn clearly threatens the violinist’s life, but it’s The Drake that actually swallows him whole—literally.

Also, it’s unclear, at least to me, what the role of Gavin’s wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams) is in his schemes—is she aware that he basically kills everyone who doesn’t listen to him? Or does she simply know what he wants from Henry (presumably his government connection to a building Gavin wants to buy)? Williams is perhaps one of the biggest stars on the show, and yet she is currently situated in the backseat of the action. Both her celebrity and her character seem integral to the show, but if she isn’t brought more to the forefront the show may see limited success.

The one character that is really keeping me glued to my seat is Jane. Taylor does a great job playing up Jane’s curiosity over the building’s history as well as her fears as to her future at The Drake. Besides, she already reminds me of Emily on “Revenge” (Emily VanCamp), which is great.

ABC is clearly on its “Revenge”-high, creating another gripping dramatic show with questionable characters. It may find success in “666 Park Avenue,” especially if it keeps up the mystery behind The Drake for as long as possible. But if they keep revealing as many apparently key pieces as they did in the pilot, I’m worried it could fade fast.