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'Mind Games' review: No fun at all

Clark, an expert in human behavior, and his

Clark, an expert in human behavior, and his brother Ross, a former con-artist recently out of prison, open a unique agency where they use psychological manipulation to help solve their client's problems in the pilot for ABC's new series "Mind Games," premiering at 10 p.m. EST Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Credit: ABC / Matt Dinerstein

THE SERIES "Mind Games"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on ABC/7

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The brothers Clark (Steve Zahn) and Ross Edwards (Christian Slater) are starting a company based on this simple premise -- you can make anyone do anything if you can only manipulate or trick their brains into doing it. Tonight, Clark, a highly wired former college professor with OCD (and much more) and Ross, an ex-con who spent two years in jail for securities fraud, help a desperate mother get insurance for her son who is in need of specialized surgery. The plan? Adrenalize the claims adjuster, then turn his mind, so to speak, into "wet cement," onto which suggestions or impressions can then be implanted. In plain English, this process is designed to turn his "no" into a "yes."

MY SAY Watch this and you too will become adrenalized -- and as a result, your brain will turn to wet cement, or perhaps mush, and your memory will also easily be implanted with any suggestion or impulse. In this case, that would primarily be a reminder not to watch again next week.

"Mind Games" is all loosely based on the science of human behavior, and how one act can lead to another, which by the way can all easily be replicated in lab mice (you know, give a mouse a cookie and he's going to want a glass of milk). But mice won't want to watch this show again, either.

Chief among many problems is Zahn, who is a terrific actor under normal circumstances but here is reduced to a character who essentially claws his fingernails across a figurative chalkboard for 44 minutes. There's a key plot reason for this, but knowing that doesn't make the performance any less exasperating. Meanwhile, the show proceeds at gale force, demolishing logic, plot, meaning and (most of all) pleasure in its path. The core irony is amusing -- that these guys who are supposed to be so clever at controlling others can't even begin to control themselves -- but before long you also start to wonder whether it's even intentional.

BOTTOM LINE Mindless games.



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