Thursday, November 29, 2012

666 Park Avenue: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1.8)

It's always fun spotting the moment when the writers sit up and realize they've gotten poop all over their hands. Just from what happened on the show this week, I'm assuming What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was the first episode written within a month or so of the show airing, meaning the folks behind the scenes were able to see what elements were working and what elements needed to be pulled back or exaggerated. It was pretty clear all over, from the seemingly concrete proof of Gavin's real identity, to the restructuring of various character dynamics. Being 666 Park Avenue, none of it was that great, but it's clear the show is changing in one way or another, instead of merely phoning it in for this last run of episodes.

So Gavin is the Devil? It certainly seems that way, with the spiffy church bit and Sympathy for the Devil (or, you know, some shitty, watered-down, acoustic female version) playing on the soundtrack. Plus his hallucinatory thing with Victor Shaw. Honestly, though, it's a little underwhelming to see Shaw so easily taken care of. His introduction seemed like a real step up for this show, only for it all to unravel with some light torture two weeks later. Meh. He still has the "undead daughter" card to play, but his credibility has been diminished regardless. Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams worked their butts off this week, though, particularly during their big confrontation scene, and it's nice seeing this story resurface. 666 works better when the story arcs expose the vulnerabilities of its cast of characters, instead of just tossing spooky stuff at us.

Jane's trip down the spiral staircase dropped her into what felt like an emergency re-write, suddenly turning up in Times Square and then a mental ward straight out of the 1950's. Is she hallucinating it all? The hospital seemed too specifically nutty to be truly real. At least she has a second believer in Teddy Sears' police detective. It's another plot move that leaves Henry out in the cold as a character, though. It's probably not a great decision to grant such a blank protagonist even less material... but meh.

Elsewhere, Wife returned from a secret stint in rehab, something so jarring that it took a while for me to remember that the last time we saw her she was downing pills like they were M&Ms. We also discovered that Window is working for Gavin, and Writer can only write when physically near Window. Snore. It's deserving of some kind of accolade, however, that this is consistently one of the dumbest stories on network television. What kind of married woman would remain close friends with a hot blonde she's just met who tells her that she's sleeping with a married man and doesn't care about it because her lover's wife is a "bitch"? And Wife is all, "Hmm, juicy! Tell me more..." Gah. So silly.

Like most of 666 Park Avenue in recent weeks, it's easy to spot where the writers are trying to improve things. Jane's mission is becoming a little more intriguing, Gavin and Olivia remain strong, and both Nona and Detective Cooper have gained additional dimensions as characters... but the show is still stuck in "generally blah" mode. And it really should have gained a kind of identity this far in, instead of being mostly flat and unassuming. C+

Guest stars
Teddy Sears (Detective Hayden Cooper); Nick Chinlund (Victor Shaw); Kerry O'Malley (Nurse Potter); Misha Kuznetsov (Kandinsky); Rocco Sisto (Dr. Claude Anton)
Writer Josh Pate Director Dean White

1 comment:

  1. Haha not much to say except the Wife paragraph you wrote is comedy genius. Oh lord this show... Sorry I'm not saying much but this show sucks the life out of me sometimes. I still want it to be awesome!