666 Park Avenue Series Premiere Review: Creepiness Is Not Enough

666 Park Avenue S01E01: "Pilot"

We live in a post-The Vampire Diaries, post-Battlestar Galactica, post-Revenge, post-Teen Wolf, post-True Blood, post-Breaking Bad world. Sure, some of these series are still airing, but the toothpaste is already out of the tube: GOOD TV MOVES QUICKLY. There is no going back! It is 2012. The only way a network serial can possibly survive is to learn the best lessons from its higher-quality cable competitors: Keep the characters fascinating and the plot points flowing—particularly in the pilot, when the storytelling should be nothing less than habit-forming. Unfortunately the pilot for ABC's new supernatural thriller 666 Park Avenue eschewed both of those elements and settled for being more like the middle section of a particularly uninspired horror film; you know, the part that comes after the terrifying cold open, but before the heroine actually figures out what's going on, where she's just entering dark hallways going, "Hello? Anybody there?" It was THAT for an hour.

Based on a book most of us had never heard of, 666 Park Avenue is from the evil geniuses at Alloy Entertainment. They're the ones who've made an industry out of publishing ghostwritten YA thrillers and adapting them into TV shows (The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, The Lying Game). But this older-skewing premise exercises an astonishing lack of imagination and almost no scares that could reasonably surprise or hook anybody's interest. The premise itself proved to be a bit of a disaster: A young, impossibly attractive couple answered an ad for a new building manager at The Drake, an insanely posh apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Jane (Charlie's Angels' Rachael Taylor) has a background in architecture, while Henry (Brothers & Sisters' Dave Annable) works for the mayor—two qualifications that seemed to impress the building's devilish owner, Gavin Doran (Lost's Terry O'Quinn), and his wife, Olivia (Ugly Betty's Vanessa Williams). So the young couple moved in and that's when weird (and weirdly unoriginal) things started to happen to them and a half-dozen of their unmemorable neighbors. Anyway, the premise's disastrousness is this: Every tenant of the building has somehow sold his or her soul to the devil in order to be there, so what we're dealing with is essentially a haunted-house story in which the characters can't or won't leave. Is there anything less compelling than that? Who cares about the devil's lease agreements? How can we possibly root for characters who stay in a bad situation for more than two episodes, let alone SIX SEASONS? The first season of American Horror Story essentially admitted that the premise can only last for about 12 episodes, and even that felt like a stretch.

To get around this obvious fatal flaw in its premise, 666 Park Avenue will undoubtedly be stretching out the amount of time it takes for Jane and Henry to even realize that Gavin Doran is the devil (basically—it's already clear this show will be backtracking/secularizing the whole satanism thing). But that's the premise's second fatal flaw: It relies on the heroine's ignorance to maintain plausibility, and that's just not how good TV works. Like most main characters, Jane is our audience surrogate, so by definition she should not be as in the dark as we are. Jane spent most of the premiere episode having only tangential encounters with supernatural phenomena, but none of them were serious enough to give her pause or write them off as anything other than stress-related nightmares. In keeping her discoveries restrained and her curiosity minimal, 666 Park Avenue has promised us a feast and served only an appetizer. That's just not acceptable anymore.

This lack of storytelling momentum might be acceptable if 666 Park Avenue had anything original to say or an even remotely scary idea in its head. Truly addictive TV shows all have killer "gotcha" moments just before commercial breaks, but 666 Park Avenue's were straight-up boring. One pre-commercial stinger featured a character we'd just met washing his hands. Boom! Commercial. Another was that same, barely featured character hugging someone we'd never seen before. Boom! Commercial. Even the episode-ending cliffhanger was boring. A teenager in the building had stolen a necklace and suddenly had a VISION of Jane running somewhere. Boom! Credits. Sorry writers, you need to Netflix up some TVD and see how this sort of thing is done, because so far you are failing.

Speaking of TVD: To be fair, its pilot was not its best episode. We know this now. The primary reason for lackluster quality of TVD's first few episodes was that Elena (the audience surrogate) didn't know that vampires existed until about Episode 5. Frustrating! That unforgivable ignorance is happening here, too. But at least the TVD pilot managed to bust out some thrills and twists during its 42-minute runtime, like a truly scary cold open, a brutal "murder" of a character we'd gotten to know (Vicki), and the sudden appearance of a surprise villain/heartthrob (Damon) followed by a brutal vampire fist fight. In 666 Park Avenue a lady got her head stuck in an elevator and later a man got sucked into some wallpaper. Not the most compelling stuff. Probably the biggest shock was when Jane woke up from a nightmare (in which a character she'd never met fell off the roof), only to reveal that her feet were FILTHY. But that didn't so much scare me as remind me I need to Swiffer my floors.

I'm tempted to admit that 666 Park Avenue has potential to improve, but the characters are all so boring and the premise so maddening that I really doubt it. You're telling me the subplot where the writer spies on his neighbor is going anywhere interesting? Or the backstory of Olivia's deceased daughter? Or the psychic teen? No, I do not care about these people and I am not curious about the mosaic in the basement, either. I just don't see this happening. Good scares (and even dream sequences) are only effective when there's real tension, real stakes, and we genuinely care about the characters involved. None of these three elements were present in the pilot. Right now the only interesting thing about 666 Park Avenue is that it had the audacity to have the sign of the beast in its title. It's a great title! Unfortunately it makes a promise that the show just doesn't keep.

666 Park Avenue Series Premiere Photos




What did YOU think of 666 Park Avenue's series premiere?






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The review is a little unfair, not to mention rushed. I've watched all three episodes and I find it entertaining, scary to a satisfying degree, atmospheric and the actors are great (esp. Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams). There are a lot of interesting plotlines and apart from the pilot which after all, was the pilot, the other episodes didn't get boring for a minute. Sure it's not a new premise, and the ideas aren't original, but the point is how the whole thing is being handled. An original horror show would be short of a miracle, literally everything has been said and done in this genre. As long as there's atmosphere, creepiness and good scripts, I'm signing on.
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I completely agree with this review!
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I think this review is very much wrong! I've watched all episodes that have aired so far and it's only getting better. When you compare it to all the other crap they've tried (V, Terra Nova, Alkatraz, etc) this is far above those. I do agree that the beginning premise of how they were able to get the job at the hotel was a little weak, but besides that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself so far!
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I actually enjoyed this show. I think this review was needlessly harsh
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well I'm not sure what show this reviewer was watching but I found it different and refreshing to the usual garbage we get subjected to, supernatural, vampire diary's and all those other pathetic attempts at least this show has an interesting story to tell, it doesn't mask what is going on yet leaves you wondering how it will all unfold. We are long overdue something good on TV instead of being subjected to reality TV shows constantly. But this being said it will probably get cancelled before we get a chance to real get to grips with it like most shows now makes me wonder why the networks even bother making new shows only to cancel them half way through the firs season completely pointless, yet garbage still gets aired.
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This show is so lightweight compared to the other fantasy and mystery shows. One season max.
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I watched 4 episodes of The Vampire Diaries (first four of first season) and I thought it was Smallville with vampires which I didn't like. Maybe the show has evolved beyond what I had the impression of, but comparing this show to TVD is wrong. I think this show has more substance than what it showed us in the pilot.



Just look at shows like Fringe. The pilot episode, although interesting, it never showcased the amazing show that it was about to start. So I will give this show a chance.
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You captured it all in one word: uninspired. I had the same initial reaction, only I wasn't so nice about it.

http://soulsuckingapathy.blogspot.com/2012/10/666-blah-avenue.html

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The show clearly has potential and the cast is pretty decent. That being said the pilot was far from perfect and tried to hard to be creepy. I quite enjoyed the episode nonetheless but I fear it wont be on TV for much longer.
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Totally disagree with you review....I read it before viewing the pilot, so I watched thinking it would be weak and silly.....it was actually quite the opposite, the pace is fast but not too fast....otherwise they'll run out of material....the cast was good, the chemistry was good...I think it has potential if they manage it carefully....will definitely watch more episodes!!
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I think it has a lot of potential, based on your review I thought it was going to suck majorly but I found it alright haha, so I'll keep watching it for a few more eps see how it pans out =)
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Completely disagree with this review. I thought it had a lot of promise and was well-paced. Certainly better than most new shows this season.
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Boring! I will give it another week or two, because of Terry O'Quinn! I read 666 Park Ave and the sequel. They were interesting books, so, what the heck is this mess the network has come up with , it has nothing to do with the book besides the name and a few characters names. After reading the book I was excited and wondered how they were going to turn it into a TV show with all the witches, warlocks, and only one large extended family living in the apt complex. I see, they decided to throw out the entire book, so, why name it 666 Park Ave. People who read hate when TV shows do this. TB gets away with it because most of the time the story lines are interesting, they do keep some basics of the books and the male leads are yummy! My prediction this is not going to last long!
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I stopped watching after he was sucked back into the building. Oh so boring show!!
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I think perhaps you don't like the genre? What did you expect would happen, blood and dismembered corpses would start flying out your TV screen?
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Wasn't that in the first five minutes? The show hadn't even started yet!
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Wasn't that in the first five minutes? The show hadn't even started yet!
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I thought this show was excellent. my family and I liked it a lot. I am tierd a people bashing good shows or now even giving them a chance
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I'll watch it just for Vanessa Williams. Kinda tacky show with predicable storyline but it helps to settle my food after dinner. Yada yada.
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I wish this show were worthy of me berating Price for overrating TVD in comparison but it's not.
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Boring, but I'm still going to watch for a bit longer. I kind of feel like this is going to be one of those shows where all of the characters ultimately turn out to be assholes so you end up not caring whether any of them survive. The only person I thought wasn't an asshole was the guy who murdered someone to bring back his wife and then couldn't do it again. Then he got eaten by a wall, so I guess that was the end of that.
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It's pretty clear that a network tv show can't quite present a horror story like AHS. But the executives and showrunner must be aware of that. You can't make a water down, washed out horror film/tv show. That's an oxymoron. So why bother? It's like greenlighting a story about a serial killer without showing any actual killing (just imagine a network version of dexter). I agree with you that Jane would be much more interesting if she had her own agenda of sorts and would not just be uncovering what we already speculate. Just imagine Jane looking at an old photograph of her and someone else in front of the Drake or something like that. Boom. Credits. Now she knows more then us and we want to find out what.
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Umm...yeah, sounds about right. I can support this. Both the review and the show ironically enough. It's the pilot so pilots can be brutal. I love Vanessa Williams so I want to see where her character goes and how she develops. She's the one character I really didn't get a feel for. It's darker than what I typically go for...well, at least it's trying to be anyway, but I'll tune in again.
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I thought this was one of the better fall premieres and I'm surprised you don't like it more. I disagree with a lot of your opinions which don't really add up. I thought the episode was beautifully crafted from start to finish. The symphony playing while things are happening was awesome, the characters are PERFECT in their roles and there is TONS of potential and I like the fact that this show is DIFFERENT then many other similar genre shows. I felt like this is the tv show version of The Devils Advocate or The Ninth Gate etc.... I certainly look forward to more!
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i liked it a lot!! it has potentials and a really great cast! especially terry o'quinn and vanessa williams were excellent! I really liked it and i will continue watching it!

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I liked it, first 2 minutes really got my atention, I'll keep watching. The girl is not really expressive thou
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Oh, also, I found it pretty refreshing that we learned from Episode 1 who is who. After lost, every other show gave only a hint every two episodes of who is who, and tried to surprise the audience after like Episode 6 or 7. Here we know from start that Gavin makes deal, that his wife is in it, that after 10 years you're sent to hell (Supernatural might sue on plagiarism here, what is this? A crossroads demon?) etc etc.
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I think you are too hursh, Price. Basically, half your critic is about "unoriginality" and the rest is about...not giving the audience the same cliches other supernatural shows gave? Huh? You're confusing me.



In any case, it was not a superb pilot, but I came with a little expectation and went off willing to give it 2-3 more episodes. Surely more interesting than Revolution.



Also, please, someone...let me know of the music played by the orchestra near the end, during the sponsors' event. I'm sure I've heard it before in some well known movie or well known tv show and I can't get my memory to work. Where have I heard that before?
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It was the (beginning of the) allegretto from Beethoven's 7th. Enjoy!
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If it was the same music the orchestra was playing at the beginning of the show when you see them seated at the concert it is...Vivaldi- Concerto for Two Cellos Orchestra and Basso- Continuo in G Minor, R, 531, l. Allegro Prague Chamber Orchestra. Ty Shazam! :) Went right for my phone the music started. Loved the music , love Terry. Not impressed with the show , maybe because I read the books review above. Enjoy the music!
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the music at the beginning was different...Vivaldi (baroque) whereas later it was Beethoven (classical-romantic).
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I agree with GirishStewart...i have to watch first a couple episodes ( if they survive that long) before i can tell what i exactly like about it, but i don't hate it....I loved Jane already in Charlie's Angels...so just let wait...
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This is obviously a show which will build itself up slowly, I'll give it the 4-episode test before judging too harshly. Definitely wasn't first episode material, but it was alright.
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ABC must be aware this is one of the shows that build up slow.. The question is, will the audience have a reason to tune in further down the road?!
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It has a very Steven King feel to me, and I'm good with that. I like the idea that Terry O may just be the devil, and the hotel is possible the gateway to Hell?
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You have actually mentioned Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad in the same sentence with Vampire Diaries , Teen Woolf and Revenge ?!



You man are a joke :D
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I agree with him. Love BSG as much as The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf (Season 2)!
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I liked it and I think it has potential.I didn't find the characters boring and the elevator scene did scare me (partly b/c it reminded me of the elevator scene in 'Resident Evil' *shiver*).I will tune in next week.

As for your TVD reference;For me, TVD was not as thrilling as it was in s1 and 2 and definitely it wasn't the fast paced show it used to be.

P.S. I hateit that you don't like the show,Price, but I'm glad that you're the one who's reviewing it.
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Maybe it's not for everyone. I for one, liked it just fine, the setting leaves a lot of options to develop storylines and interactions between characters. The building itself is creepy and has an Overlook Hotel atmosphere to it. Good cast, I'm sure it will pick up the pace and become a winner.
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A show with lots of potential. Do not expect gallons of blood, it is a mystery drama in the likes of The Shining or the classic Rosemary Baby and so on.
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I think your all on crack. i thought the pilot was amazing. well written. great acting. perfect amount of suspense. looking forward to episode 2.
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Did you read the books? Maybe if they gave it another name and not linked it to the books I might not have gone in with any expectations of it having anything to do with the book! The books are female heroine and villain based!
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Not a very strong pilot but it seems that this series has a lot of potential. Looking forward for the next episode
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It looks as if they're making the show a serialized story instead of making it episodic. The story with the photographer and the writer should have been concluded in a single episode, although it's possible that the pilot was treated as a two-part movie and that later episodes will be more episodic. And the story with the man who wanted to bring his wife back was wrapped up in a single episode. But the whole advantage of having a building filled with rooms is so that it would allow for each room to be used for a different story.

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Well, it wasn't as good as my initial expectations, and it wasn't as bad as my more recent expectations after watching a couple previews and commercials. It's not particularly fun, it's not too boring. There's a lot of beautiful people, but none of them are particularly interesting. I guess it just means that it feels very average.

I'll give the second episode a watch, but I'm leaning towards giving up on it after that. It just doesn't feel like it'll interest me much.
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It was a very interesting episode, reminds me of great movies like The Shining and The Devil's Advocate. I think it has some parts from this two movies, like the soon to be psychotic Brian, crazy dreams that are not and of course Terry O'Quinn's performance is just going to get better. People stop waiting for a flashy and action packed pilot, start looking at the story and the development of characters, that's gonna be something. Well at least I hope they don't screw it up.
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I had serious reservations about 666, mainly because it's AHS on network TV. I was so bored throughout the entire episode that I practically cheered when the credits began to roll.

The only thing 666 has working for it, is it's cast: Terry O Quinn (Lost), Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty/Desperate Housewives), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters) and even Rachel Taylor (from her recurring on Grey's not Charlie's Angels) are incredibly capable actors but are given the worst most awful material that I began wondering why any of them signed on to do this show.

I'm hoping it gets better but I'm not going to stick around to find out. I'll just keep my eyes peeled for good reviews and then maybe I'll come back.
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Love Teen Wolf especially season 2. I love FRINGE. I will give this the 3 week test, maybe four if it picks up.
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The only thing I'm intrigued by is why thief-girl told blondie that there's things being stolen when it's HER that's doing the stealing, and that thief girl has visions with her stolen goods.



Since I didn't watch Brothers & Sisters, I don't recognize the young husband - was he the target of the hitman trying to keep his dead wife alive? If not, bummer, because that would have intrigued me too.
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The target was something of a legal acquaintance of the young husband who had a property business issue with Terry O'Quinn. The young husband was concerned that it would be illegal for him to have any discussions with him, but O'Quinn seemed to know that anyway. O'Quinn wanted the man out of the way to pursue his ambitions. Not sure yet how the husband factors in to that, but guessing O'Quinn is going to use him now for that purpose.
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I didn't think it was bad but there was a distinct lack of horror and interesting stuff to keep me coming back. I MIGHT watch it next week, if I do and it's as uninspiring as the pilot episode I won't keep watching it. However most pilots are slow, I've never cared about the characters in a pilot, that kind of connection takes time and so does engaging plot. That's when the dialog becomes crucial, however this had mediocre dialog. I'm willing to give it a another chance, but only one.
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Just saw 666 tonight and didn't think too bad or all that boring. it was slow, but interesting enough to see how it goes.

I didn't care much for O'Quinn in this. Then again, I am not as fanatic about him as many seem to be. I always think of him as the Stepfather from films of same name, not Locke, too. It could be he's become one show too popular and/or typecast. Vanessa Williams did seem out of place here too.

That writer's story was more interesting than anything else, but sort of didn't go anywhere yet, if at all, and not sure why his girlfriend/wife was beaten up by the elevator. Oddly, she brought the most energy to the episode.

Nothing was eerie or creepy or scary, just mildly intriguing. The most curious thing was the dragon mosaic business and the hidden door. The spookiest scene, if you can call it that, was the girl in the shadows while the light bulb was being adjusted.

If it develops as a deal with the devil with its guest stars each week that brings in twists and turns, both good an bad, maybe it will work out, but if it's just going to focus on the core cast and a plodding mystery that never seems to get answered while tenants get absorbed by the building, the show could easily die.
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I thing the writer's wife was hurt so there is room for an affair with the new assistant. The building/Gavin seem to push people to sin
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I found it to be serviceable but not as good as I'd have hoped with the premise and cast. The pacing was pretty off, and a lot of it lacked punch. I've seen worse pilots turn into good shows so I will stick with it for the 4 episode test. Can't say my hopes are too high, but there is potential there.
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I thought the pilot was... Ok... For a pilot

My only real disagreement though wi the review is the surrogate character. The surrogate character typically has the same amount of knowledge OR less than the viewer about their new environment at the start of their role.

Jon Crichton from Farscape. Jack Carter from Eureka. Rose fm the Doctor Who revival. All went in with blank slates, got introduced to the backstory at the same time as us. And reacted as WE would to the strangeness
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I totally can't stand TVD. Vampire stories have been literally told to death. And I'm deeply glad that there are no teenagers in 666 so far.



While I agree that the pilot was a bit too shallow and slow, and I can''t feel anything for the many characters either, I still somehow liked it. It's for sure not a horror movie, neither was it scary. But I DO like to know more about the building, the dragon mosaic and G. Doran (DraGon).



However, I can't see how to fill a full season with this premise - not to speak of some seasons - either. If the story develops TOO slow, and judging from the pilot that's very likely to happen, I'm probably out. But I give it a try to see how it develops.



Probably I'm even more curious about how they will keep up the tension after Jane finds out what is happening in the building than about the story itself.
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Nice one, that G.Doran thing. Cool spotting
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Based on the review and supporting comments, I will happily pass. Thanks for taking one for the team, y'all.
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The reviewer is spot on. This is awful. It has a Dallas feel about it and it's about as scary as JR Ewing. Give me something decent to watch...

How can shows like Flash Forward get cancelled and shows like this get airtime?
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I agree with all the other comments, it was far too slow.

I demand all the answers NOW so that there is no more story to tell during the rest of the episodes.

People just don't "get" slow burn TV anymore and need instant answers due to having the attention spans of goldfish.
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The day people start looking at TVD as good TV is a sad, sad day. I mean, I watch TVD too, but everybody knows that it's pure and utter faeces though, right? TVD has to be one of the worst things on TV and the only thing it has going for it is it's pace and the little surprise endings. If it wasn't for the quasi-suspense it manages somehow to build up (and a cast list with Somerhalder and Morgan) nobody would be watching it at all.

So what if 666 isn't the fastest moving 40 mins ever? I actually enjoyed the pacing. I like the whole stephen king vibe they're going for. People say they weren't scared, but I don't think the show was actually trying to scare you at any point. To me, it seems that the show will be more about the main characters gradual descent into a horrible scary situation and I'm cool with that. For example, even though there was nothing horrible about it, that entire event of Jane dress-shopping with V. Williams and Williams buying the dress anyway, that was really well done. The golf scene too, Terry rocked that. Quinn and Williams are rocking this. And the Jane girl isn't bad. I care enough about her to not want to see her get sucked into the walls at least.



I hope they keep it nice and slow and cultured, instead of going for cheap week to week thrills.
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Don't forget Nina Dobrev! Half of my friends (including me) watch just for her even if the episodes suck!
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Can anyone tell me what is so special about Nina? I find her just..average. Not bad but nothing special.
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