One consequence of having been out of town last week is that I missed a lot of important television. Now I have quite a bit of catching up to do. Last Tuesday, ‘Buffy’ star Sarah Michelle Gellar returned to The CW with the new mystery thriller ‘Ringer’, which the network has been promoting as a more “adult” or “mature” alternative to its usual teen-oriented programming. Does the show live up to that promise, and is this the second coming of Buffy Summers?
Nah, of course not. You didn’t really expect otherwise, did you?
We’re first introduced to SMG in the ‘Pilot’ episode as Bridget, a former stripper and recovering drug addict who has consented to work with the FBI and testify against a mob boss. Because she fears for her life, Bridget slips away from her FBI handler (Nestor Carbonell) and runs off to the Hamptons to meet up with her estranged identical twin sister Siobhan, who is a wealthy socialite. The sisters have some weirdness between them, and it’s suggested that junkie Bridget had something to do with the death of Siobhan’s young daughter years earlier. Siobhan has not told anyone, even her new husband (Ioan Gruffudd) that she has a sister at all, much less an identical one.
Soon after Bridget arrives, Siobhan suggests that they go boating. Bridget falls asleep on the boat, and when she awakes, Siobhan is gone. Signs point to suicide. Not knowing what to do, and still fearing for her life, Bridget returns to shore and promptly takes up Siobhan’s identity. As she attempts the difficult task of fitting in to her sister’s very different life, Bridget starts to uncover Siobhan’s secrets, such as the fact that she’s been having an affair with her best friend’s husband and is pregnant.
Towards the end of the ‘Pilot’, Bridget barely survives an attack by an assassin who’d been sent to take out Siobhan. In the final twist, we learn that Siobhan is in fact alive and well in Paris, and may have hired the assassin herself to kill her sister, thus faking her own death.
The show has a pretty clever premise, but the execution is… well, it’s about what you’d expect from The CW. The episode is both too glossy for its own good (complete with an awful pop song montage in the middle) and painfully cheesy at times. The green-screen effects during the boat scenes are embarrassingly fake-looking.
The acting is also pretty flat. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Buffy’ was one of my favorite shows of all time – but that had little to do with Gellar’s acting. Even though she’s a producer on ‘Ringer’, which was developed specifically for her, she feels miscast. First off, what’s with both of her characters having such Irish names? I don’t buy Gellar as Irish at all. I also don’t buy her as a junkie stripper. She’s better as the conniving socialite, which seems like a grown-up version of her ‘Cruel Intentions’ character, but Siobhan has very little screen time in the episode. Perhaps that will change in the future?
Does the series have potential? Maybe. I’ll give it another episode or two to see if it gets better.