Gavin Doran: "It's the essential truth of who we are, we all want something."
Ah, Terry O’Quinn. What we want is more screen time for your devilish, twinkling eyes and mischievous smile. Terry’s Gavin Doran and his sexy wife, Olivia, played by Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives), are two of the big draws of 666 Park Avenue and should be used to greater effect. Know your strengths!
Terry was the spiritual guru of the island on Lost and now he’s the spiritual black hole of the Drake Hotel. So if you need someone to get obsessed with a mysterious, supernatural place, he’s your guy. Unlike John Locke, Gavin Doran is less of a flawed antihero than quite possibly the Antichrist. But will we still root for him, based on the power of his charisma?
Gavin announces his essential truth about everyone wanting something during the pilot of ABC’s 666 Park Avenue, which is loosely based on the novels of the same name by Gabriella Pierce. It’s also loosely based on everything else in the horror genre, from The Devil's Advocate and The Shining to Needful Things, Rosemary’s Baby and even a little of Jack Nicholson’s Daryl Van Horne from The Witches of Eastwick.
The show wants to be a creepy, seductive, upscale, what-will-happen-next thriller tapping into TV’s newly revived love of the macabre (thanks, American Horror Story!) and perennial love for rich people problems and Faustian bargains. Now that the exposition-heavy premiere has introduced the main characters and basic structure, the show can stretch its sexy legs and dive into the details. We left the show curious to see what will happen next and hopeful that the supporting actors will be given a chance to flesh out their roles so we’re invested in their futures. (That said, we're also fine with investing in their roles as eye candy. Talkin' about you, hot playwright with the glasses!)
Meet the managers
It’s clear within the first five minutes that this is a deal-with-the-devil story and the devil in question is Gavin — or working through Gavin. But Gavin isn’t the main character. The chief protagonist is Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor of Grey’s Anatomy) who becomes co-manager of Gavin’s Drake Hotel with her boyfriend Henry Martin (Dave Annable of still another ABC show, Brothers and Sisters). They get their jobs because the last guy’s 10-year contract expired. That guy really wanted to be a talented violinist and made a deal with Gavin to make it happen. But when his time was up, his fingers turned bloody and he — gulp — “went someplace warmer.” (Although, really, he just got sucked into the building. You can check out any time you like...) Jane is the one who gets the couple the manager’s job because she has architectural experience and knows how to save a historic building from a "nasty act of God." Or that’s what they’re led to believe. It quickly becomes obvious that Gavin and Olivia already have plans for the pair — especially for Henry, who was hand-picked by the mayor for his other job in New York City. (And they say the job market is weak!) Since Henry is an ambitious lawyer, perhaps he will literally become the devil’s advocate? After meeting the couple, Olivia tells Gavin that Jane is beautiful and she likes her spirit. Gavin replies, ominously, "She's how we get Henry."
Now prepare to see the managers suffer
Why do they want to get to Henry? How will Jane be their way? Gavin is all about making deals to give people what they want. (He and Once Upon a Time’s Rumplestiltskin would be besties.) What are Jane and Henry going to want that Gavin will provide? When they signed their lease, did they sign for more than they realized or is the true bargain to come? Jane seems to be on the path to being The Woman Who Knows Too Much and will probably face off with Gavin. One of the hotel resident’s, Nona (Samantha Logan), apparently steals trinkets and took Jane’s necklace. She may be clairvoyant, ‘cause she had a vision of Jane tied up in her red dress. Not a happy future. (Unless it’s part of a Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy with Gavin. In that case, hot!) But, no, Jane, you and Henry probably won’t be OK at the Drake. Whatever. Henry needs to get out of the way so Gavin can continue making Jane uncomfortable with his subtle sexual advances. Bald is beautiful, baby!
Bad things happen to people who don’t live up to their ends of the deal
In case we didn’t get it with the guy and his violin, we learn Gavin had a Drake resident named John Barlow kill a judge to bring back his wife, Mary, who died in an “psych ward suicide.” John thought he only had to kill one person to keep his wife alive, but Gavin wanted a second death — a guy we saw briefly, named Daniel Stone, who hates Gavin and wouldn’t sell his real estate to him. John said no to second murder. So Mary went "back where she belongs" and John disappeared through the wall in a cool bit of horror magic. (All those hands! So creepy!) So we know Gavin is not lenient about time frames — when your contract is up, there’s no renewal — but he’s willing to change his rules as he goes, when he wants you to do something else that suits him. Not the best boss.
What’s up with nerdy-cute Brian, his annoying wife, and the sexpot next door?
The pilot had a whole extra subplot about the Drake’s resident playwright Brian (Robert Buckley of One Tree Hill), his pushy photographer wife Louise (Mercedes Masohn of The Finder) and Alexis (Helena Mattsson, also of Desperate Housewives), the bodacious blonde who lives across the street. Louise called her bespectacled husband “nerdy-cute” but he’s a straight-up hottie with a capital H. If the whole show were about Brian, we wouldn’t complain. But as it is, it’s hard to see exactly how his story will fit in with Jane and Henry and Gavin and Olivia. Brian seems like a patient and supportive husband, at first, but when he’s supposed to be working on his script, called “Disappearing Ink,” he stares across the street to watch Alexis get undressed. When Louise loses her assistant, she ends up hiring Alexis. After that, Alexis stares Brian down while she strips for him across the street. (Isn’t she worried other people can see her too?) A whole peeping tom flirtation story develops, and just when it looks like what Brian will “want” is for something to happen to his wife so he can be with The Girl Next Door, Louise conveniently gets caught in what Gavin had already warned were “temperamental” elevators. Louise is crushed and ends up in the hospital. Will she survive? Who knows. Did Brian want that to happen to her as part of some kind of bargain with Gavin? Not sure yet. The story feels a little rushed at this point, but it’s intriguing — and Alexis and Brian already have smokin’ chemistry.
The front desk guy may be trouble
Tony the front desk guy (Erik Palladino) said he was also going for the manager’s job that Jane and Henry got. He wanted their sweet apartment too. His jealousy could be an issue later. We’ll see.
What else does Nona know?
Neighbor Nona took Jane’s necklace and she may have taken Henry’s missing cufflinks too. What will she see in his future? What else does she know about what’s happened in the hotel and what’s to come? What’s her own story? How come we didn’t follow her around as much as Brian, or John with his undead wife?
Other burning questions
What’s the story with Gavin and Olivia? They are the most intriguing characters so far and there’s a lot to explore with them. Vanessa Williams compared the Dorans to a supernatural Bernie and Ruth Madoff. More of that, please. Gavin told Henry he bought the Drake in ‘86. Did he mean 1986 or another ‘86? What’s his backstory? What’s Olivia’s story? And what happened to their daughter, Sasha? When Olivia was pushing a $4,000 McQueen dress on Jane, she mentioned red was the late Sasha’s favorite color. Sasha supposedly died in a car accident, but when? How? Why couldn’t they “save” her or bring her back like the undead Mary? And what’s up with the Order of the Dragon? Will Jane end up going behind the sealed-up door? Is that how she’ll end up getting tied up and in trouble? Is there more to the story of the fire in 1923 where two were “lauded” and 13 were injured? Is there more to the Drake and its inhabitants — are some of them already dead? Is Terry O’Quinn now on another show where a major question is “Are they in purgatory?”
Do you think we’ll get answers? The show seems to be moving pretty fast so far, but you know how these things go — they string us along for season after season. Or, worse, they string us along and then the show is canceled without all the ends tied up. Let’s hope ABC and the producers take 666 Park Avenue to a place either seriously hot or seriously cool. Just don’t leave us in purgatory!
What did you think of the premiere?
666 Park Avenue airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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