One of the great things about Comic-Con is the opportunity to check out movies and TV shows before they are shown to the general public. On preview night, before Comic-Con 2012 even officially opens, I and about 2,000 of my closest friends are checking out some TV pilots. The first, 666 Park Avenue, concerns a very tony apartment building in New York City that just happens to be owned by an agent of the devil.
The series kicks off with a lovely young couple, Jane and Henry, taking the job of apartment managers so they can live at the fashionable address rent free in exchange for routine maintenance. It's a pretty good deal, except I'm pretty sure the upwardly striving duo will ultimately be asked to pay a much larger price than Manhattan rents.
The couple's new boss, Gavin Durant, is played with understated menace by Terry O'Quinn, who you'll recognize from Lost. Durant is a seemingly friendly businessman who plays hardball with both money and other people's souls. He's in the business of giving people what they want, whether it's a loved one brought back to life or a career as a concert violinist, but he's no altruist. When payback comes for the hapless residents of 666 Park, it's a bitch.
Like the first act of a horror movie, the pilot for 666 Park introduces us to a cast of likable characters and a seemingly normal setting, with just enough wisps of horror to keep you tuned in for the rest. The heat is gradually turned up as we learn more about the sinister history of the apartment building, and begin to get a feeling for the diabolical goings-on that are just under the surface of the residents' lives.
The titular building plays such a huge part in the story, it's practically a character itself. Known as The Drake, the oppressively opulent building comes complete with 1920s architectural flourishes, spacious apartments, a steam boiler, a malevolent elevator, and a ghost-girl in the basement, as well as a dark history. The Drake has seen a lot of tragedy -- suicides, murders and even darker things-- a mysterious group called the order of the dragon has sealed off part of the basements for an unknown reason.
The vibe of 666 Park is classy, grown-up horror, akin to Rosemary's Baby or The Shining, and, for the most part, it works. It will be interesting to see if 666 Park can keep it up over the course of a whole season -- that's a pretty small target to hit. I'll have my TiVo set on "Season Pass" for this one when it premieres on ABC this fall.