MIND GAMES, Doomed By Being Too Smart

ABC's Mind Games premiered last week and though it was a bit hectic up front, turned into an incredibly smart episode.  And the series started off with a fair thump in the Nielsen ratings.

But as I watched the show, I had a bad feeling about it.

It's a show based on a group of people that sell their services to folks who need someone in their lives coerced into making a decision about them.  In last week's case, it was about a boy who needed special surgery, but the hospital it needed to be done at, would not foot the bill.

In comes Christian Slater's team, deploying sophisticated ploys, acts and tactics to engage their target.  All their ploys, based deeply on modern marketing psychology.

The show took a daring road, depending on highly intelligent or complicated psychological practices that are used on TV viewers by advertisers, showing how Christian's team engaged the head of the hospital, making him feel bad about himself in one moment, just in time to feel like he could redeem himself, as he finds our patient-x in his office, waiting for him.

So he took the case, but then the board of directors dissed the case.

Then Slater's team held an illegal press conference saying the hospital took the case.  This engaged the hospital BoD, but then they realized with all the media and hoopla generated by the fake press conference, they could not back out, plus, it was good media.

After watching the episode last week, I turned to my wife and said that even though I had a tough time following it, I fully enjoyed the complexities of the story.  I had a hard time following Steve Zahn's character, but in the end, it was a very, very smart TV series.

And then I said, it's too smart for our Nielsen families.  Like other shows just as complicated, they'll bail on this one and doom it and Slater (yet again) to an early death.

That was last week.

This week, well, the ratings slid 45%, and may very well be making a bit if TV history, tying Killer Women for the category of lowest rated, hour-long series.  Though it's a shame to compare the two.  One is too smart, the other, too stupid.

So be it as it may, complicated, fast moving, and engaging, duplicitous characters, Mind Games made its stamp to too complicated of a story and will fade away into the sunset of other smart shows.

(DISCLAIMER: ABC has NOT indicated they are cancelling the show.  But with numbers like this, they don't need to.)

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