We’re willing to acknowledge that a great apartment in New York City is a desirable commodity. But is it enough to make a Faustian bargain for?
“666 Park Avenue,” the new supernatural drama premiering at 10 p.m. on Sunday on ABC, would have us believe that in 2012, a seemingly smart young Midwestern couple with multiple degrees and boatloads of ambition would be so desperate to land a job managing a historic apartment building on the Upper East Side that they would sign a contract for said job with barely a glance at the fine print, despite their distinct sense of unease.
But that’s just how seductive the Drake is meant to be.
Lorded over by the paternally menacing and wildly wealthy Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn, master of the form) and his fabulously haughty-but-nice wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams, with not enough to do in the premiere), the building lures in those with burning desires, unwittingly signing on to make some kind of sacrifice.
In Sunday’s pilot episode we don’t yet know what it will be for young Jane and Henry — Rachael Taylor (“Charlie’s Angels”) and Dave Annable (“Brothers & Sisters”) — but we learn of the not-so-happy fates of a few other tenants who made the mistake of trying to get more than they bargained for with Doran.
Add to the plot the building’s dark history — budding architect/historian Jane uncovers a creepy monster mosaic in the (naturally) poorly lit basement — and several other troubled tenants, including a nosy/thieving/potentially psychic teen girl, and you have what should be the makings of suspense and horror.
Except nothing much happens. Sure, there’s some sort of pallid spirit, some blood, an ooky resurrection, some funky camera filters, and things that go bump in the night. But even when the soundtrack tells us portentous and shocking stuff is happening, it all feels very low key.
What really feels eeeeevil is a boring subplot involving politics, real estate, and “environmental regs.”
At one point, Doran tells Henry and Jane that desire is an essential truth of who we are. “We all want something,” he says. I want “666 Park Avenue” to be scarier and more interesting. The presence of the normally reliable and entertaining O’Quinn and Williams and the pedigree of creator David Wilcox (“Fringe,” “Life on Mars”) makes me willing to stick around for a little while to see if the show can become as scary as it wants to be.Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.