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‘666 Park Avenue’ review: A devil of a deal

By — Hank Stuever,

“666 Park Avenue” (premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on ABC). The potential for haunted-house fun abounds in the Drake, a luxury Upper East Side prewar apartment building that’s owned by a Mephistopheles type (“Lost’s” Terry O’Quinn as Gavin Doran) who claims the souls of unlucky tenants whose terms of lease come due. An ambitious (but broke) young couple (Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable) answer Doran’s want ad for new live-in managers, and they’re instantly thrilled with the square footage, original moldings and free rent.

And here is where the show becomes a handy metaphor for all real estate transactions. Doran and his mysterious wife (Vanessa Williams, nibbling the scenery’s edges with her pearly whites) make it seem as if life in the Drake is heavenly — but the vanishing and otherwise desperate pallor of some of the residents would suggest otherwise. “666 Park Avenue” will have a little of what “American Horror Story” is having, obviously, even if its frights aren’t nearly as jumpy. Still, I think the pilot episode has just enough things going bump in the night. The only bummer is when Taylor’s character, Jane, starts Nancy-Drewin’ in the basement and it becomes clear that the actress (last seen in that god-awful “Charlie’s Angels” reboot) can’t quite carry the load as an interesting lead.

It’s worth waiting for another few episodes to see if the story clicks. If “666 Park Avenue” makes it that far, then expect it to get a whole lot more convoluted. Maybe the Dorans aren’t demons at all, right? Maybe they’re holding off a larger, Manhattan-swallowing evil by sacrificing their tenants one by one? Or something like that? Grade: B

— Hank Stuever

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