Friday, February 28, 2014

Pilot Talk 2014: Mind Games

Every TV season, networks bring out a new crop of shows, in hopes that they'll be the next big hit.  Pilot Talk is devoted to figuring out whether these shows are worth your time based on the first episode.

Tuesdays at 10:00 PM on ABC

Maybe this could be the one for Kyle Killen.  His star launched just four years ago, when his pilot for Lone Star premiered on Fox to rave reviews.  It was indeed an excellent show, but one with a premise that viewers just couldn't latch onto, and was cancelled after airing only two episodes.  Two years later he returned with NBC's Awake, which had an even better pilot, but was similarly high-concept in a way that wasn't conducive to high network viewership, and got axed after one 13-episode season.  Following that trajectory, Mind Games might have a shot of seeing a second season.

It certainly is more network-friendly than Killen's other two shows, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's dumbed down.  As far as pilots go, it's not nearly as good as Awake or Lone Star, but it's still a step above the common network procedural.  It helps that Killen is such a great writer, imbuing the script with a sense of life and energy you don't see in these kinds of shows.  But the cast is also game too, ably bouncing off of each at a brisk pace.  If you were one of those people who found Steve Zahn annoying on Treme -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- then you're likely to find him grating here too.  But I think he and Christian Slater are very interesting and believable as brothers and business partners.  There's a surprising amount of depth in the dynamic between the two of them and Wynn Everett, who plays Slater's ex-wife, but also has a close relationship with Zahn.

Of course, this being a Killen show, I have no idea how this premise can sustain itself.  Basically Zahn and Slater play characters who run a business firm that helps people get their way by subtly manipulating others?  It's like Inception without spinning tops and layers of dreams.  The way they do this in the pilot is snappy and fun, but I can't imagine how they're going to come up with new ways to play out this idea over the course of the series.  However, I'll leave that kind of worrying to the writers.  For now, Mind Games is a zippy show with a great cast and a bonkers premise.  What more can you ask for?

Grade: B

No comments:

Post a Comment