Film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men," "Your Friends & Neighbors") brings his furiously dour worldview to television Wednesday with "Full Circle," a new series on
Each of the 10 half-hour episodes features two characters interacting over dinner in the same sleek and modern restaurant. As in Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde," each character appears in two consecutive episodes, so "Tim and Bridgette" is followed by "Bridgette and Stanley," which, in turn, is followed by "Stanley and Jace," and so on.
But where "La Ronde" used the interlocking device to explore the different permutations of sexual love and how it crisscrossed social borders, "Full Circle" seems more intent on showcasing male anger and self-entitled posturing. Or so it seems from the five episodes made available for review, two of which are available to DirecTV customers online already.
In the first, Minka Kelly's Bridgette is saying goodbye to her young lover Tim (
In Episode 2, Bridgette attempts to break up with her husband (
By turns apoplectic and menacing, Stanley is less in need of dessert (each episode is broken into appetizer, main course and dessert) than he is of having a restraining order taken out against him; a half-hour in his presence is more than enough.
Yet he is a model of restraint compared to his next dinner partner, Jace (
Buried in the profanity and general misogyny may lurk a morality tale about tolerance — in the next episode Jace meets the sister of the young man in question — but honestly, who cares?
The turn and turn again structure is definitely appealing, albeit a bit self-conscious. The cast is terrific and LaBute knows his way around dialogue, favoring the quick quip and jackhammer cadence made famous by David Mamet.
But watching guys hand-feed their inner cavemen from the table — another episode involves a man going nine rounds with the piano player while (mendaciously) assuring his wife he isn't cheating — is not nearly as much fun as LaBute seems to think it is. The women are left to either call the men out, shift nervously in their seats or burst into tears.
With no one to root for and no real story to follow, there's also no compelling reason, beyond the sheer trick of the thing, to follow this full circle even halfway.
Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)