Mind Games – New ABC-TV Series – Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Mind Games is a new ABC-TV series. Starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn, the series is about two brothers, one Clark Edwards (Zahn) is a bi-polar ex-college professor, and the other, Ross Edwards (Slater), is an ex-con who did a two-year stint in a minimum security federal lock-up for securities fraud. What is it that they will do is the question that’s probably forming, right?

They have opened a business called Edwards & Associates. They specialize, as they describe it, in getting people to change their minds without them having any idea that they been manipulated – or in the parlance of the show – mind games have been run on them without them knowing it.

ABC itself says: a little bit of science, a dash of con-artistry, plus a smattering of Jedi mind tricks, enable brothers Ross and Clark Edwards to tailor a plan to influence any life-altering situation.

The net effect is that their clients get the results they want or need, and the problem has found a solution. The brothers believe that people’s decisions are influenced by their environment in ways they’re haven’t considered. Which really means that they will tweak the situations, based on their own nearly sixty years of studying human behavior.

If you’ve checked out the pilot which aired on Tuesday night (Feb 25th), then you have a pretty good sense of the show. If you haven’t checked it out yet – think of TV fare like Leverage, or Psych, or in more cinematic terms – Mind Games settles in somewhere between Jedi magic Tricks (Star Wars) and Mission Impossible – only without the light-swords, interplanetary travel, C3PO, Glocks, fast cars, and so far , we’ve not seen any latex masks.

It’s all about misdirection and manipulation; and lets not forget dirty tricks with borderline illegality. The show will toss in a more than a few scientific terms, or more accurately psychiatric/psychological buzz words like memory activation or adrenalized implimentation. But it still boils down to fooling somebody.

Okay, as this is a broadcast network offering, we can expect a few trailing subplots involving ex-wives, ex-girl friends, money issues and so forth. But the meat and potatoes will be a new case each week that requires a good old arm twisting – only with out the physical twisting. In short, Mind Games.

The leads, Christian Slater and Steve Zahn bear a similar look and size. Which means we won’t have to suspend disbelief to think of them as brothers. However, in the pilot, for most of the first 15 minutes, we got mostly a lot of bickering, and busted game plans between them, and a failed pitch to a corporate biggie played by Ron Rifkin. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best opening.


Soon enough a client comes in – a single mom with a teenage son who required recurring heart surgeries or could undergo a surgery that would or could provide a permanent solution. Only the medical insurer has denied it, claiming cost, uncertainty, and the fact that it was still considered ‘experimental’.

As this client is poor, and would not be able to afford a hefty fee, a decision is made to take on this case pro-bono. Edwards et all really haven’t any alternatives because as a start-up, they have no other clients, and paying the rent or facing eviction looms.

The problem isn’t too hard to solve. They need to make the insurance claims manager dude to start thinking of himself as someone who can make life-altering decisions. meaning that he will see himself as something of a hero. So these Edwards guys and associates put on one of their staged productions – and lo and behold – they get a favorable decision. Which vanishes almost as soon as they get it as the insurance company, at the corporate level, wants further discussions, so the case is kicked upstairs to senior management – who promptly says NO.

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A Night of Music at The Hong Kong Cultural Center

Day 9 in Hong Kong drifted by. I’ve already written a post on Java Java, and the Shun Tak Center otherwise known as where to get a ferry to Macau. As I said, I’ve seen airports with smaller terminals..

Dinner was at iSquare, once the site of the Hyatt Hotel on Nathan Road, now a shopping mecca. In fact there is an escalator that you can grab right in the MTR Station below. Takes you right up to the third floor of the shopping center. So it makes it easy to shop = even when it rains – and no worries about parking.

Dinner was set for 6:30 at Shanghai Po Po 336. I had some time – So I nipped in to HMV in search of a couple of DVD’s to bring home. When last in Hong Kong in 2011, I had seen Hong Kong’s best director, Johnnie To‘s latest and newest film at the time in a movie theater. That film was called Life Without Principle (click the link for my review).

This time I wanted to pick up the DVDs for Drug War (directed by Johnnie To in 2012) with Louis Koo as the star. The other was Blind Detective which came out just a few months ago in July. Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng were the headliners. But it wasn’t to be. HMV was sold out of both titles.

dvd combo

So back to dinner. It was billed as a Shanghai Noodle house and it was just okay. No restaurant review today readers.

But the big event of the night was at The Hong Kong Cultural Center (above), which is HK’s equivalent of New York’s Lincoln Center. It was a double bill – The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (about 77 performers for this show), and a Taiwanese Drum Ensemble called The Chio-Tian Folk Drums & Arts Troupe..

We were in the third row. The good seats. Not quite the front row, but more than close enough to hear and feel the powerful drums. The Majestic Drums was about a dozen or drummers – just one woman. The came out in full martial costumes including one of a kind hair styles, war-like make-up, and each were heavily tattooed on the right arm and shoulders.

They were high energy. Not only did they have to memorize the complete drum and percussion music, but every thing was syncopated, and choreographed. From the large hanging gong, to the man with cymbals, to the rolling drums when the brakes were off, it was simply amazing. Each beat of the drum had a certain arm movement, as well as a specific arm in use. The timing was exquisite.

Beside the make-up, the tattoos, the costumes, they were intense and seemingly war like as in competing. Four on this side, four on that side, a featured performer in the center, plus the two side men – the gong and the cymbals. There were loud war cries like screams as well as the booming drums.

They did four lengthy numbers, and then there was break. At this point, the stage hands had to set up for the entire orchestra. Seats, music stands, and all properly angled to be able read the music and keep an eye on the maestro as well.

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