Oh man, the pilot episode of ABC's Satanic apartment building drama 666 Park Avenue debuted last night. And it is silly. How silly? We're talking Passions levels of hilariousness.
Seriously, in the opening five minutes, a violinist who sold his soul for musical talent tries to welch on his demonic contract. He's sucked back into the building like a goddamn bubble tea tapioca pearl.
It's supposed to be a creepy Twilight Zone-channeling moment, but you're instead left with the observation, "Okay, this is about an Upper East Side rental building that eats people. 10-4, John Locke."
(Speaking of which, the best thing about the pilot is Terry O'Quinn — who plays the building's owner, Vanessa Williams' fictional husband, and maybe the Devil/maybe the Devil's liaison/maybe someone who will inevitably be defeated with a giant cork. He's effortlessly menacing.)
With its "fresh-faced couple moves into secret Manhattan hellhole" trappings, 666 Park Avenue is definitely gunning for modern, metropolitan chills on par with Rosemary's Baby. But a few things are holding it back — namely the show's penchant for one-ton foreshadowing dialogue, the fact that this is a 30-minute Tales from the Crypt plot masquerading as an entire TV series, and that all of the building's residents are seemingly caught up in Faustian chicanery.
Seriously, a struggling playwright begins peeping on the lady across the way and suddenly his photographer wife is eaten by the elevator (above). I mean, there was an entire Dutch horror movie about this plot point. Later, another guy who reneges on his pact is ferreted away to points unknown by creepy wallpaper hands. Finally, the blandly affable protagonist (in her dreams) stumbles upon an occult balcony that is probably rented out to the United Brotherhood of Vinz Clortho on the weekends. Make no bones about it, 666 Park Avenue is campy, but in spite of all this silliness, I want 666 Park Avenue to run for 90 seasons so that the powers that be are forced to squeeze every last drop of narrative juice out of its "a nice apartment in New York will cost you your soul hyuk-hyuk" supernatural premise.
I want wendigos infesting the laundry room and the Grim Reaper's daughter trying to sell residents nightshade-laced Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. I want this show to do so well ABC has to change its initials to "A 666 Park Avenue Broadcasting Company." Why? Because if you can't root for the show that was green-lit the day the network heads had the flu and a confused FedEx guy had to approve the fall line-up, why bother watching television?