A pair of brand new supernatural dramas had their debut on Friday night - 666 Park Avenue on TV2, Beauty And The Beast on Prime - and, despite the fact that both have suffered from negative reviews (in addition to 666 Park Avenue being cancelled after just thirteen episodes), I thought I would give both a chance to impress.
(Spoilers from the first episodes of 666 Park Avenue and Beauty And The Beast follow.)
Before I'd seen a minute of it, I thought 666 Park Avenue had the potential to at least be entertaining on a regular basis. The premise - a young couple notice something is up after taking over as the new managers at a posh apartment building where residents are given their hearts desire by making Faustian bargains with the building owner, either Satan himself (or a high ranking minion) - makes the show sound like a cross between drama-soap Revenge and horror favourite Supernatural.
The opening scene played into that expectation, with a violin player cutting his fingers on his strings at an orchestral performance, before being violently sucked back into the building through a small hole in the front door when he tried to leave without giving the devil his due.
However, things went downhill at an astronomical rate, as any semblance of clever writing and unique story-telling got lost in a jumble of clichéd jump-scare scenes revealing things we already knew ("you shouldn't have come here," one undead character explains before throwing herself off the side of a building) and half-hearted, painfully predictable subplots (the "nerdy cute" guy whose object of temptation suddenly enters his life, for example).
It doesn't help that, with the exception from Lost's Terry O'Quinn as Gavin Doran (who may or may not be the devil), the show is woefully, horribly cast. As the co-managers, Rachael Taylor and Dave Annable seem way out of their depth, while Vanessa Williams is even more unbearable in her few minutes here than she was during her run on Ugly Betty. Or, at least, she would be, if I was willing to admit that I ever watched an episode of Ugly Betty.
By contrast, my hopes for Beauty And The Beast could not possibly have been lower. Based very loosely on the late-1980s series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, the show looked like it would combine a pretty standard police procedural with a longer mythology around who the beast is and how he got that way - and that is essentially what we've got.
This is a supernatural police drama for The Vampire Diaries crowd, full of good-looking people and new cars in a flashy, highly stylized setting, replete with moody stares into the distance and vaguely romantic underpinnings to every scene between our leads, Kristin Kreuk and local star Jay Ryan. Sure, the beast isn't really a beast (a scar isn't a life-wrecking deformity), but that's only because the show was made for a youthful, predominantly female audience (it airs on The CW, the channel responsible for eye-candy like Gossip Girl and upcoming Sex & The City prequel The Carrie Diaries).
Uninteresting though it might be, and uninspired as the performances of Kreuk - somewhat experienced on this kind of show, after a run on Smallville - and Ryan were, I have to say that Beauty And The Beast wasn't as bad as I was expecting. And it's hard to blame it for some of the most glaring flaws, given who the show is made by and for.
Which of these shows will I be sticking with? I'll give both a few episodes to try and change my mind, as per my three-episode rule, but I can't imagine sticking with either for much longer than that. As of right now, I would guess that 666 Park Avenue is the one that might keep me tuning in, if only because I'm a fan of Supernatural and it appeals to that part of my taste. Even then, the knowledge that it has already been cancelled is a huge obstacle for it to overcome.
But enough from me - I'm interested in what you think ...
Did you watch either 666 Park Avenue or Beauty And The Beast on Friday? What did you think? Or if you're watching one of these shows through other methods - is it worth sticking around? (Remember, no spoilers.)