Mind Control with Derren Brown -- An early look
There are a lot of so-called "psychics" and "mediums" on television, but very few of them admit they're full of crap.
That's why I like Derren Brown. Using a mix of psychology and manipulation, he gets ordinary folks to do things they wouldn't normally do. Brown does not claim to be psychic, or to possess supernatural abilities, he simply has a knack for getting inside a person's head.
He's already made a name for himself in his native U.K., performing such stunts as playing Russian roulette on live television and convincing one person they had been transported into a zombie video game.
Mind Control with Derren Brown, the U.S. version of his U.K. series Derren Brown: Mind Control, debuts on SciFi tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. In the first episode, Brown gets people on the street to willingly hand over their valuables to him, pays for food and jewelry with blank sheets of paper, gets a crowd of people in a shopping mall to all raise their hands simultaneously, and appears to read the minds of two employees of the Saatchi and Saatchi ad agency.
Mind Control offers something that has been sorely missing from similar series and specials: someone who freely admits that everything he does is a trick. That may seem to extract some of the "magic" from the situation, but I think it makes it even more fascinating. The idea that a normal person can "control" others in this manner is far more amazing to me than someone who attributes their trickery to some kind of mystical, outside force.
Also refreshing is Brown himself, who doesn't gussy himself up like some kind of evil magician or waste a lot of time with melodrama. He looks and acts just like everyone else and lets his demonstrations speak for themselves. It's fun to see how giddy he can become when one of his tricks work out. The smile on his face when the crowd at the mall suddenly stop and raise their hands is priceless. When you can conjure up the kind of moments Brown does, you don't need a lot of fanfare.