[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show:"666 Park Avenue" (ABC)
The Pitch: "Rosemary's Luxury Apartment Complex" or "Don't Trust the Demons in 666 Park Avenue" or "Dirty Satanic Money." Take your pick, really.
Quick Response: ABC's "666 Park Avenue" isn't a great pilot and it's unlikely to become a particularly good show, but it has a reasonably high quotient of proficiently handled goofiness and, at least for the first 44 minutes, I was content to giggle along with the derivative lunacy. On one hand, there's something to be said for mystery, mythology and obfuscation, but TV audience have been burnt so many times recently by TV shows that promise answers, but never get the chance to get out of the gate. With "666 Park Avenue" we establish within seconds that Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams own a ritz Manhattan apartment and also possess a skillset of powers that almost certainly come either directly or variably indirectly from Satan or his Mexican Non-Union Equivalent [Either El Diablo or Senor Satano, I suppose]. It's "Needful Things" with Manhattan rent control and you don't waste time trying to get to the meat of the narrative. O'Quinn is, in particular, having a fantastic time with the lack of subterfuge. If he isn't twirling his mustache, it's only because creator Dan Wilcox wanted to leave some manifestations of malevolence to unfold in subsequent episodes. From Rachael Taylor to Dave Annable to Mercedes Masohn to Robert Buckley, the supporting cast is just full of actors and actresses whose strengths and limitations are perfectly designed for what is basically a real estate porn-driven supernatural soap opera. They all look terrific, but none of them is being asked to upstage the interior and exterior design, which get the true star treatment from pilot director Alex Graves. The address is the A-lister here and it's treated with every bit of the subtlety as its numeric associations imply. The "666 Park Avenue" pilot isn't full of genuine scares, but there are creepy things afoot. I guess my biggest reservation before crowning this as the season's best new guilty pleasure is that too much of what transpires will be familiar to anybody who has seen "Rosemary's Baby" or any of the countless films that have aped it over the years ["Devil's Advocate" would be a clear influence if "Devil's Advocate" weren't just a rehash of "Rosemary's Baby" itself]. The pilot is a *little* crazy, but I want it to be absolutely berserker. I want "666 Park Avenue" to follow the "Vampire Diaries" formula of eight-to-10 jaw-dropping surprises every episode. I want everything that transpires to make me go, "Did they really just do THAT?" as opposed to "Well sure. Of course that happened. Not bad." Even NBC's "Revolution," which I probably liked less than "666 Park Avenue" overall, had more moments that surprised me.
Desire To Watch Again: I think "666 Park Avenue" makes for a very compatible night of ABC programming with "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge" and I'll say, without hesitation, that I preferred this pilot to last fall's "Revenge" pilot. It lacks the self-seriousness and literary pretense that irked me when "Revenge" rolled out. This is probably trash TV, but I think it ought to be fun trash and barring a real drop from the pilot, I'm assuming this'll be a Season Pass for me.
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries