Rich Heldenfels

The new season finds that ABC has concocted a curious lineup for 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday, with two fantasy shows bracketing a soap opera, but an increasing level of tension as the night goes along.

I’m in for the 8 p.m. hour, when the intriguing and colorful Once Upon a Time begins its second season, then heading elsewhere at 9 p.m., since I never developed a taste for Revenge. Then, at 10 p.m., I am on the fence about a new arrival, 666 Park Avenue, which has two actors who know how to unnerve an audience, but a premise that seems too familiar.

666 involves the Drake, a fancy New York apartment building whose residents have seen their dreams fulfilled — but will eventually pay a price. And the collection price on view in the series’ premiere on Sunday is not pretty.

Is it possible to live at 666 Park without falling into trouble? That’s one of the questions behind the show, particularly concerning Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), a Midwestern couple moving to New York City and not only moving into the Drake but offered a chance to manage it. They have other plans — Jane as an architect, Henry as a political staffer — but the apartment is not only appealing but also downright seductive.

So are, in their way, the Drake’s owners, Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn) and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams). Both are very well connected in city business and society, and neither seems entirely trustworthy. O’Quinn and Williams have long ago demonstrated their ability to play people who are charismatic but not free of suspicion, and their performances make the show far better than its script does.

That script, after all, seems to have borrowed bits of Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and even Poltergeist — although ABC may be figuring that the relatively young audience it wants for this show is unaware of those vintage thrillers. It tosses a lot of potential mysteries and twists into the premiere — only I am not convinced the show’s makers know where it will all lead, especially if the story has to be drawn out for a season or more. I may give it a second look, but I was less than thrilled by the first.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.