Wednesday, October 3, 2012

REVIEW: 666 Park Avenue

ABC - Sundays 10/9c

Terry O'Quinn plays his second iteration of the devil (the first being Lost when he was the Man in Black\Smoke Monster\Barry) in this new show that is at times horror and suspense and times morality play.  It has intrigue and sex, which should appeal to a lot of people, but the weird thing is that is uses both of these things in a way that enhances the overall theme of the show:

The Devil is bad and he will make you do bad things.

1.  Does it entertain me?
The Natural Law tells me, among other things, to do good and avoid evil.  The devil in this show, Gavin Doran (O'Quinn), tries to switch this around.  Do evil and avoid good.  He tempts them, he offers them things that they otherwise could not have (one guy becomes concert violinist, one guy gets his dead wife back as long as he continues to murder innocent people).  No matter who the person is, Gavin is convinced that he can bring them over to the dark side.

This sets up all sorts of immoral and illicit behavior.  Murders, beatings, poor golf swings, sex.  You name it, someone has to do it to remain in the devil's good graces.  However, none of these acts are ever presented in a way that the devil doesn't somehow begin.  So while the commercials would lead you to believe that these behaviors are what everyone seeks, they are actually part of a bigger picture: namely that the devil can give you things that you want.

Of course, he says that he gives you things that you need, when in actuality you gives you things you want.  It's similar to Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce.  The devil convinces you that you just don't want this new vice, but that you actually need it, and that you can't live without it.  He is the best salesman in Manhattan.

The show also mixes in all sorts of intrigue, namely that the Drake Hotel (not the one in Chicago, although that could be haunted as well) used to be the center for a cult, and the remnants are still in the basement.  Jane Van Veen (Rachel Taylor) is an architect looking to find out the history of the building.

And this is where the main pull of the show comes from.  Can Jane and the other characters find out the truth of the hotel?  And if so, can they find out that Gavin is the devil?  And if they find this out, can they bring John Constantine by to rid them of their devil problem?

What ABC is banking on is that people will stick around long enough to find all this out.  But I just don't know if there is enough discussion orTheological dialogue to merit a return week after week.  ABC is banking on people returning for the immoral behavior, on finding out people's motivations for committing sin, on seeing who has sold their soul this week.  But I just don't know if people who are interested in the theological nature of the show are willing to sit through all the sex.

2.  Is it realistic?
Your belief in the existence of the devil and the power he wields is going to shape  your answer to this one.  But I for one absolutely believe in things like this, which is why a show like this frightens me so much more than a show about zombies (although that can be equally as difficult to watch.  Thanks Rick).

So if you believe in the devil and his temptational power, then the premise is believable.  That people would be willing to sell their souls to become a concert violinist is also believable.  I'm not sure some of the secondary relationship stories are as believable, but those people will probably be killed at some point.

3.  Are traditional family values upheld?
The whole idea of the show is that people commit sin in order to get what they want.  This will include affairs and extramarital sex.  Families will be destroyed by murder.  So no, the family is not protected.

But it's also not the goal of the show to uphold that.  It's trying to show the flaws of humanity and our desires to have worldly possessions.

Of course, I may be giving the show too much credit here.  There may be no desire to explore the nature of good and evil at all, and in reality, there may just be ratings grabs designed only for entertainment.  Which is fine, people are allowed to write whatever show they want.  We just don't have to watch.

4.  Are immoral actions defended?
By the devil, yes.  But the show doesn't seem to take a stance on good or evil, just that Gavin is in charge, and is clearly making these people to immoral things to get what they want.  I can't imagine the characters support his corrupt beliefs, but you never know.
666 Park Avenue doesn't give the audience who might be looking for some theological discussion enough to stick around.  And it doesn't give those people who are looking for the next sex-infused Desperate Housewives enough sex to stick around.  So it might be stuck in the middle, trying to entice people with a bit of a fright each week, with moving hell-walls and floors.

Grade: C+


  1. “666 Park Avenue” looks like a slow moving train, and since there are so many residences to explore I’m sure it will take its time before it delivers in your face surprise. I liked the first episode and Terry O’Quinn (although I’m not sure he is actually the devil?). I will miss the next episode because of my new work schedule at DISH. My Hopper is set to record this episode, and since there is over 2,000 hours or DVR recording space I decided to record the rest of season. I think this show will deliver and keep its audience in the long run especially if it plans to stick around a while.

  2. This is the pilot that surprised me the most, because I really didn't think it was going to be any good, but it turned out to be somewhat decent. I don't think it's quite earned a spot on my dvr yet, because there's enough to occupy my time as it is, but if the well runs dry I might return.

    If you continue watching, let me know how it plays out and if it's worth my time.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I love this show and i believe in god and Jesus. This show does not corrupt my values or my families.. it's a show a work of fiction not fact!

    1. I agree that this show does not corrupt your values or your families, and I believe I never even hinted at that. The show presents the devil in a dark and evil way, and never tries to claim that his actions are anything but sinful.

      Yes, the show is a work of fiction; but any good fictional show will lead us to comprehend something about the factual world around us.