PASADENA — The new ABC dramedy "Mind Games" looks at a business run by two brothers who guarantee they can influence life-altering situations using science, Jedi mind tricks and subliminal messages.
If the idea sounds a little creepy, you aren't the first to think so.
"That's actually one of the things that they discuss amongst themselves," says Kyle Killen, the creator of "Mind Games." "The whole idea of manipulating people without them knowing it, you're literally taking their fate in your hands. You're making decisions to some extent for them. So that becomes a topic of discussion amongst the team."
The team includes the brothers Ross (Christian Slater) and Clark Edwards (Steve Zahn), along with their underpaid staff at Edwards and Associates. It's clear that building a business around mental tricks to make people do things they don't want to do is little more than a fancy scam by the brothers, who are little more than con men.
"Mind Games" comes with a unique problem. Because the show is built around the complicated nature of how mind manipulation works, there are a lot of talking scenes.
"We don't realize quite how much explanation it's going to take to communicate what it is they're going to do," Killen says. "Steve and Christian do a really good job of taking these sometimes tricky and counterintuitive concepts and explaining it in a way that it feels like you know, it's as if they're explaining it to first-graders."
Zahn jokes that means they are explaining it to people like him. He enjoys playing a genius, especially after spending most of his career playing stoners.
It's his character's brilliance, played off the con-man skills of Slater's role, that is the heart of the show.
"They each have a different sort of toolbox. Christian's character brings, unfortunately, years of experience actually conning people, which while there's not a lot of psychological names for it, it's all based on techniques that actually work to get people to do what you want them to without them knowing you're doing it," Killen says. "And Clark brings the real studied, researched approaches, and what they usually end up with is a combination of those things.
"Clark's character has something that's been done in a lab and an idea how it might function in the real world, but it takes a little bit of what Ross knows about the real world to sort of make it happen out there."
"Mind Games": 10 pm. Tuesday, Feb. 25, on KFSN (Channel 30.1).
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.