Wednesday, November 14, 2012

666 Park Avenue: Downward Spiral (1.7)

With every passing week, there are smaller snapshots of what this show could be. One scene in Downward Spiral specifically jumped out at me: an attractive montage of mutually concerned individuals getting dressed up for a Manhattan gala. Like the atmospheric, action-driven opera scene that opened up the pilot, there's a morbid slinkiness to these moments, something grand and gothic with its classical music score and array of disturbed protagonists looking all shady. If only the rest of 666 Park Avenue capitalized on it, though. This wasn't as strong as last week, but it's becoming clearer that the writers are getting a cleaner focus on what the show is going to represent, and how the fleshed-out backstory of the Drake will guide things. It's not there, yet... at all, but it feels every once in a while like it's on the right track.

Like a game of musical chairs, the rotating supporting cast fluctuate in interest depending on the episode. Here Nona suddenly becomes interesting, inhabiting the kind of role the show has been crying out for in recent weeks -- finally somebody to talk to Jane. Sure, the writers are still insisting on making everything pretty vague and uninteresting, but Jane and Nona make for a double act with a throughline of real honesty. The "you're talking crazy!" thing is a necessary horror trope, but you absolutely need a 'believer' character at the same time, especially on a serialized drama where the initial trope can only be used so often before it grates.

The twists here were a little flat, though. Didn't we already know about Jane's past with the Drake? Or what the ghost represented? Or maybe this wasn't supposed to be a twist for us, and just for her as a character? Meh. She also got herself locked inside an underground spiral staircase, which felt like an annoying rerun of previous cliffhangers.

There's actually a lot of repetition on this show. Too many scenes of Jane wandering around barefoot, too many instances of people being trapped inside things, yet another party getting crashed by a gun-wielding maniac. The show really ought to quit returning to the same well over and over again, primarily because it's creatively lazy, but also because this is only episode seven.

There wasn't a ton more to this week. Henry wants to propose to Jane to keep her in New York, a scheme Gavin and Olivia are keenly involved in, while Enrique Murciano fumes on the sidelines, Olivia poisons Victor Shaw, and Writer Window Wife continue to feel entirely unrelated to anything. It doesn't help that Wife has been off the show for two weeks, making an already lifeless marriage feel even more distant and unrelatable, but Writer's one scene this week not involving Window came off as one of the most artificial 'male bonding' moments I've ever seen. Running, horrible dialogue about marriage and cheating, somebody actually saying that "everybody goes through rough patches". Ugh. This subplot is horrible.

With ABC keeping this on the air solely for financial purposes (why bother pulling it and launching something else when they've already been paid ad time for it?), it's easy to sit back and let 666 wash over you for the most part. It's drab and boring a lot of the time, but the seeds are still there for this to flourish into something interesting... at least while it lasts. B-

Guest stars
Enrique Murciano (Dr. Scott Evans); Nick Chinlund (Victor Shaw); Cotter Smith (Mayor); Misha Kuznetsov (Kandinsky)
Writers Leigh Dana Jackson, Mimi Won Techentin Director J. Miller Tobin

1 comment:

  1. Male artificial bonding was so true. It felt so forced and horrible! Ha! Cracked me up!