Monday, July 14, 2014
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'Tomorrow People,' 'Full Circle': Eerie kids, gabby grownups

"The Tomorrow People," which premieres Wednesday on the CW, stars (from left) Robbie Amell as Stephen, Aaron Woo as Russell, Luke Mitchell as John, and Peyton List as Cara. (Barbara Nitke / The CW)
"The Tomorrow People," which premieres Wednesday on the CW, stars (from left) Robbie Amell as Stephen, Aaron Woo as Russell, Luke Mitchell as John, and Peyton List as Cara. (Barbara Nitke / The CW)
"The Tomorrow People," which premieres Wednesday on the CW, stars (from left) Robbie Amell as Stephen, Aaron Woo as Russell, Luke Mitchell as John, and Peyton List as Cara. (Barbara Nitke / The CW) Gallery: 'Tomorrow People,' 'Full Circle': Eerie kids, gabby grownups

Television is a stage where beautiful people do awful things.

That axiom holds for the two series premiering on Wednesday, although they are nearly antithetical in tone and content.

Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) is your typical teen in The Tomorrow People (9 p.m. on the CW57): moody, alienated and overmedicated.

"Maybe I should save everybody trouble and check into a loony bin," he moans to a strikingly mature classmate (Madeleine Mantock).

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  • Relax, kid. You only feel like you don't fit in because you're not human. As we quickly discover, Amell belongs to an evolved species with spooky powers, a breed being ruthlessly hunted down by an evil government agency.

    (Actually Amell's cousin Stephen, the superstudly star of the CW's Arrow, looks far more like a product of genetic advancement.)

    The show borrows sci-fi elements from The Matrix, X-Men, and especially Jumper, a ghastly 2008 film with Hayden Christensen. The cast includes Luke Mitchell, Aaron Yoo, and Peyton List, who played Jane, Roger Sterling's perky ex, on Mad Men.

    What almost makes it work is the scintillating performance of Mark Pellegrino as villainous Dr. Jedikiah Price. (You may recall Pellegrino as one of the squabbling island deities on Lost.) He drips malevolence here.

    Like all the CW series, The Tomorrow People has a gorgeous, young ensemble and a fresh (though not original) premise. But it's going to have to significantly broaden the scope of the story and the size of the cast if it hopes to succeed as an episodic.

    There are no supernatural bells and sirens on Full Circle, a very intimate and intense drama on DirecTV's Ch. 239 (Wednesday at 9 p.m.).

    The eight-part original series written by playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute (Your Friends & Neighbors) is essentially a succession of overlapping couples, sharing verbose, usually awkward meals in the same restaurant.

    It's like My Dinner With Andre meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the serpentine narrative, each installment tips into the next like dominoes falling.

    Full Circle has a number of bold and energetic performances from a cast that includes Kate Walsh, Billy Campbell, Julian McMahon, Minka Kelly, Tom Felton, and David Boreanaz.

    It sheds light on a number of interpersonal issues, for instance that the closer people are, the more they can hurt each other (although LaBute's characters do a fair amount of damage from a distance as well).

    It's a stark reminder that we can talk ourselves to death without ever really communicating. But will somebody please shoot the piano player (Cheyenne Jackson)?

    This is programming that will strike you as either prestigious or pretentious. The dialogue, as is often the case with LaBute, seems notably natural at times, terribly scripted at others.

    Be sure to start at the beginning, because the series grows more contrived as it evolves and as the relationships grow more outlandish.

    But for those with DirecTV, it's worth a shot. Full Circle is raw and emotional in a way that TV rarely is.

     


    TV REVIEW

    The Tomorrow People

    9 p.m. Wednesday on

    the CW57

    Full Circle

    9 p.m. Wednesday on DirecTV, Ch. 239


    dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

    215-854-4552 @daveondemand_tv

    David Hiltbrand Inquirer TV Critic
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