ABC veterans Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives) move into 666 Park Avenue this fall. The network’s newest neighborhood, which ABC teased at Comic Con on Friday, looks like it might be stranger than a disappearing island and more cutthroat than Wisteria Lane.
O’Quinn and Williams joined Rachael Taylor (Charlie’s Angels), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters), executive producer Matthew Miller (Chuck) and writer David Wilcox (Fringe) for an informative panel and special Q-and-A session. But first, we were able to see the pilot in full.
It’s ominous. And sinister. And spooky, in several parts. 666 Park Avenue promises a primetime soap opera by way of the Book of Revelations … and depending on whom you believe, O’Quinn could be playing Satan.
For now, we know him as Gavin, mysterious owner of the Drake, a luxury high-rise on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The pilot finds Gavin hiring poor but beautiful Jane (Taylor) and her boyfriend, Henry (Annable) as his new resident managers. As they settle in, we meet the Drake’s tenants – all of whom seem to have struck “binding contracts” with their bald landlord. There’s a violinist eager to leave the building, even though his contract is up. There’s a peeping Tom of a playwright whose beautiful wife suffers the business end of an elevator door. And then there’s John Barlow, a man who lost his wife a year ago and desperately wants to do something to change that unfortunate event.
From the moment the pilot shows the program’s title treatment (a shadow of the building’s address, 999 Park Avenue, shows us the mark of the Devil), it’s clear we’re drifting into Heaven and Hell territory. The bellhop makes a joke about a departed resident moving “someplace warmer.” That got a good laugh. And O’Quinn earns nervous laughter when he lets the phrase “nasty act of God” roll around his tongue. The fact that he adds “Heaven forbid” afterwards injects the right amount of nastiness.
The panel members dropped hints without revealing too much. “They’re saying nothing, you guys,” Taylor jokes.
Maybe because they haven’t seen enough of the show beyond the pilot. O’Quinn says of Gavin that he hasn’t figured him out as of yet. “The short answer is ‘No,’” the actor says, adding that he has the same questions we do about the character’s motivations, and he looks forward to finding out the answers with us.
But he confirms that Gavin’s evil. “He would not slow down in the road for a child in a baby carriage,” O’Quinn observes. Wilcox then interjects, “He is not who we expect.” Well, I expect him to be Satan, so maybe I’m wrong. O’Quinn takes one last stab at elaborating on whether he’s playing the Devil, saying, “Apparently we’ve met. If I’m not him, we’ve spoken. We’ve emailed.”
666 loosely bases its premise on a book, though Wilcox says they’ve deviated from the novel already and they have no plans of following it to a tee. (Don’t expect witches, in other words.) “We don’t go back to the book,” he said. “This is a different show.”
Each episode likely will be a self-contained storyline, introducing new residents of the Drake who’ve made deals with Gavin. Miller actually does utter the phrase “deal with the Devil” during the panel, but again, I think that’s a misdirection. And each episode, while likely standalone in nature, will feed into the bigger questions of the show’s mythology: Who is Gavin? Why does he want Henry? What will he do with Jane?
As the panel closed, the moderator pointed out that O’Quinn would be celebrating a birthday in two days, so the crowd in Room 6 serenaded the Lost star as he opened a skull-and-crossbones birthday card from his cast members. “I have my own deal with the Devil,” a clearly bemused O’Quinn joked. “I’m going to be 127 years old.”
666 Park Avenue will be on ABC this fall, airing Sunday nights at 10 p.m.