Mind Games, the midseason replacement show on ABC, depicts a business practice of manipulating people's decisions (granting an ailing boy surgery, voting on a bill) by use of cues and triggers that affect their mindset. This of course is an ethically questionable area, and the pilot does a nice job and shows a lot of promise in the show by having its characters inquire about those questions and the possible drama of having to blur the line between what's morally acceptable in order to be successful. Unfortunately, as the show goes on, it drops this promising angle, and also reduces the manic, unhinged quality of its lead character Clark, played by Steve Zahn. A political point in an episode seems more important to the writers, and as long as the outcome is what they consider a good one, the moral attributes of the practice are no longer pertinent. If the show can get back to both the quirky nature and interesting moral tightrope of manipulating people's thoughts, it has a lot to offer, but Mind Games could easily sink into being another forgettable episodic procedural that wastes an interesting, unique premise.
FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT.
Mind Games is the new hour-long dramedy from ABC starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn. After watching two episodes, the writing appears to be solid. The pilot episode has a little trouble creating emotional stakes for the characters up until the last fifteen minutes when a few curve ball storylines are thrown in to make the show a little more interesting. The second episode however reigns in the emotional weight, gives our main character Clark (played by Zahn) an emotional monologue in order to connect with the viewer, and cements the procedural element of the show firmly in place. At times the show can try a little too hard to be science-laden or educational, and definitely can suffer from piling on a little too much drama, but overall it's fun and different. Slater gives an unconvincing performance, but Steve Zahn creates a delightfully complex character that gives the show a real resonance.
FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT.
Critically acclaimed but ratings-starved showrunner Kyle Killen is back on TV with his third attempt at a show: Mind Games. The premise of a consulting firm that uses psychological manipulation to help people get what they want is fascinating, and the inclusion of Christian Slater makes it very entertaining. The handling of the lead, Steve Zahn's Clark, and his bipolar disorder is not as strong as I'd like, though I don't know enough about the disorder to properly diagnose the show version, but it appears he spends the majority of his time in a bipolar high, never showing us the lows. The show is shaky, finding its footing in the beautifully shot playground of Chicago, but it has lots of potential. Even its fledgling steps were intriguing. I'm excited to see where it goes, and think that Killen may have finally found his balance between critical success and people actually watching his programs.
FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT!