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TV review: ‘Mind Games’ is all high concepts and mundane execution

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Yet another procedural. Because Christian Slater!

Two stars

Mixology Tuesdays, 10 p.m., ABC.

The main characters on Mind Games spend an entire scene early in the first episode trying to explain the concept of their business, and the show never quite succeeds where they fail. Brothers Ross (Christian Slater) and Clark (Steve Zahn) have put together a sort of consulting firm that relies on Clark’s knowledge of behavioral psychology and Ross’ skills at corporate manipulation to help people create desired outcomes in various situations. Basically, they’re scam artists who help people, and the show has a similar tone to the recently departed TNT drama Leverage, although Ross and Clark conduct their business with ostensible legality.

In practice, this means Mind Games is another procedural, taking on cases that might fit into a legal drama or detective show but approaching them with oblique solutions couched in heavy jargon. Creator Kyle Killen married high concepts to mundane executions in his short-lived series Lone Star and Awake, and he does the same here. The relationship between Ross and Clark should drive the show, but it lurches between biting sarcasm and treacly sentiment, with Zahn giving an irritatingly manic performance. The rest of the cast doesn’t make much of an impression, leaving the show as muddled and disappointing as its protagonists’ business venture.

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  • Not interested in saying or doing anything contentious, the flick is purely celebratory.

  • Bradley Cooper demonstrates the greatest range of his career ... as a genetically modified raccoon.

  • A desperate tone, disingenuous life lessons and recycled, outdated jokes. Sounds about right.

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