In "Mind Games," a new
"We change people's minds without them knowing we did it," is how brother Clark Edwards (Zahn) describes their work, which takes "little observations" about human behavior "that had just been lying around in academic journals" and turns them into "powerful tools" to achieve desired outcomes. There is reference also to Jedi mind tricks.
If it is not the Steve Zahn series the fan club might have desired after the death of HBO's
The pilot finds Clark more consistently manic than is practicable — he is off his meds because "drugs stop the music" and "music is where all the ideas come from" — both for the business he is trying to start and perhaps for the viewer at home. Every so often he tosses the furniture around, either out of frustration or in the name of scientific feng shui, or both. In a later episode available for review, he calms down a bit.
As brother Ross, who has served time for securities fraud — he is the more practical brother, in other words — Slater is not far from his last television outing, as a thief-turned-security-consultant on Fox's
His new show also needs to find its voice. Still, if there is something in its premise that recalls the straining-for-effect, too-clever-to-start setups of series like USA's
The show it most resembles is another basic-cable series,
"Sudden negative reinforcement alleviates reluctance," Clark says after he has told an associate to quit whining.
"I'm familiar with yelling at people," Ross says. "You don't need to explain it."
Like "Leverage," and every caper-ish entertainment that stakes its payoff on human beings behaving like atomic particles, "Mind Games" does require an ongoing suspension of disbelief. It is less scientific than it is "scientific."
And yet one also senses that Clark and Ross and their customarily motley crew have less control over things than they imagine. Much goes wrong, or goes right unpredictably. The show's salvation, creatively at least, may be in such occasional failures more than in the mandated victories.
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Rating: TV-PG-L (may be unsuitable for young children with an advisory for coarse language)