Tuesday's at 9pm on The CW
As a devoted Buffy fan, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s starring vehicle Ringer, was my most anticipated new show of the fall season. There’s been an overwhelming amount of buzz from the media and I’ve read some conflicting reviews recently. No one seemed to think the show was brilliant, but many called it solid and were intrigued by the premise and the execution. Others really, really HATED the pilot, calling it an awful mess.
-Bridget Kelly, a former stripper and drug addict, who is the only witness in a grizzly murder case. She agrees to testify to avoid prosecution on possession and prostitution charges.
-Victor Machado, a federal agent, desperately searching for Bridget after she disappears.
- Malcolm Howard, Bridget’s AA sponsor, potential love interest and confidante.
-Siobhan Martin, Bridget’s wealthy socialite twin sister, who is still grieving a tragic loss and juggling more men than she can handle. She’s hasn’t seen Bridget in 6 years.
-Andrew Martin, Siobhan’s icy husband, who is concerned with keeping up appearances. He has an unruly teenage daughter from a previous marriage.
-Gemma Gallagher, Siobhan’s best friend and penthouse designer, who questions her husband’s fidelity.
-Henry Butler, Gemma’s novelist husband, who is indeed cheating on her…with Siobhan!
The pilot opens with Bridget in AA, trying to get her life back together. She’s living in a hotel and being guarded day and night by federal agents. As part of her recovery process, Bridget decides to reach out to her sister after 6 years of estrangement. When she receives an invitation to reconnect she flees Wyoming (and federal custody) to hide out with Siobhan at her Hampton’s vacation home. But a pleasant afternoon of boating turns tragic when Bridget awakes from a nap to find herself floating alone in the middle of the ocean. Siobhan has vanished from the boat, leaving only her wedding ring behind.
Assuming that her sister committed suicide, Bridget sees a way out and takes it. She leaves the Hampton’s clad in Siobhan’s conservative wardrobe and arrives in New York to slip straight into her twin’s life. Now she just has to keep up the ruse with all of the people in Siobhan’s life, while avoiding Agent Machado, who is hot on her trail. Bridget soon discovers that Siobhan’s seemingly perfect life isn’t quite so swell and she has serious trouble of her own.
I wanted to love this show so badly, but it really fell flat for me.
There is so little difference between the mannerisms of Bridget and Siobhan that whenever they shared the screen that it felt like SMG was talking to herself (which of course she actually was). I just didn’t buy that she was playing two distinct characters.
The physical differences were hokey and laughable. Bridget wears jeans, Siobhan enjoys pant-suits. Bridget says things like ‘cool’ and Siobhan would never use such language! And are we really supposed to believe that Siobhan never takes her hair out of that damn bun? But therein lies the problem because without the superficial quirks there was nothing to distinguish them. It annoyed me how everyone kept pointing out that Bridget as Siobhan had lost weight. It seemed like a cheap device to remind us of the switcheroo.
Maybe I’m just missing my Buffy banter, but all of the dialogue felt stinted and strained. And my god there was a lot of staring going on! I think they were shooting for mysterious, but landed on empty instead. After a 60-minute episode, I can’t think of one significant thing I learned about any of the characters. Their actions…yes, but actual details about WHO they are and WHY they were behaving a certain way…no. So why should I be invested in their fates?
Ringer is a highly stylized show but the content doesn’t live up to the image. The CW kept reminding me that I was watching a film noir - nice try, but saying it doesn’t make it so. SPOILER ALERT: the last scene of the pilot was an infuriating example. Siobhan is revealed to be in Paris, lounging and smoking on a sofa. She receives a phone call and an unidentified voice says “Siobhan, we have a problem.” She hangs up, gazes into a mirror and brushes her fingertips against the surface. Lovely visual…great reveal. Just one problem Siobhan – your mystery caller never actually told you what the problem was! Why on earth would you answer the phone and hang up before you actually got any information?! Unless of course the whole scene was designed to let the audience hear your name and soak up the image of you alive and well. Practicality be damned. Ugh.
Will I watch this again: Of course I will! I may whine and complain, but it’s going to take more than 1 episode to turn me off SMG.
Ratings: 2.74 million viewers, significantly more than the premiere of 90210 (1.63 million) garnered in the 8pm hour. It’s not quite the 3 million + that Nikita or the The Vampire Diaries delivered in premiere week last year, but viewership on the CW is down across the board.