Ringer: Pilot

"You have the wrong girl!"

It's almost fitting that a show all about identity and duplicity has some of its own identity issues. Pilot episodes are rarely flawless, but I was a little surprised at how Ringer's series premiere was more than a little frayed around the edges. Whether they want to or not, the specter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer hangs over the show. Not so much in trying to keep up with that show's immediate impression, but in the character Sarah Michelle Gellar has chosen for her return to primetime. I was shocked that what seemed to be the main premise of this series wasn't as omnipresent as I had presumed. Bridget and Siobhan are only thinly sketched so far, and despite playing two roles, series creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder don't give Gellar a whole lot to work with.

Around the time of the initial 'switcheroo' with Bridget taking over Siobhan's life, I had the nagging feeling that Ringer would have been so much more fun if Bridget was a little less 'blah'. She appears bruised and CW-level 'trashy', but maintains a dry-humored demeanor and a noble streak. With that in mind, the sketchily drawn explanation for why Bridget switched lives with her sister comes across as more than a little ridiculous. If Bridget were slightly more ruthless and deceitful, the series' premise would be more believable, and the outcome probably a lot more entertaining.

Siobhan, as briefly she appears, seems so far to be the more interesting character. She's stuck in a stunted marriage, is sleeping with her best friend's husband, is at war with her catty stepdaughter, and appears to have cooked-up this entire 'sibling switch' scheme while relaxing in an apartment in Paris. Wouldn't it have been fascinating to see a bitchy, aggressive Bridget stumbling into the life of her sister (somebody she thought was stuffy, repressed and boring), only to discover how dangerous and twisted it in actual fact was?

Away from my hypothetical storyline (which I promise I'll stop talking about), Ringer's pilot was mightily intriguing once you sifted through the blah-ness. While I don't think the premise is exploited as well as it could have been, there are numerous questions posed through the first episode that should be enough to keep you tuning in. The old lady pulled up from the shore, the Mob guy, the hitman, Bridget as a killer, Siobhan's maybe-son... And while there's a lot to take in, it never feels like the show is bombarding you with cliffhangers. The only plot point I had a major issue with was Bridget telling everybody that she's pregnant. Surely from a time-keeping point, it would be far more interesting to see Bridget think it over for a couple of weeks before revealing that she's expecting. In the process making this whole scheme far more complicated than it easily could have been...

Of the cast, Gellar is fine, if underutilized. For an actress so comfortable with playing vastly different characters, she deserved some juicier twins to play. Obviously the show will likely add additional shades to both Bridget and Siobhan, but so far they're pretty flat. Of the supporting cast, Ioan Gruffudd gave a lot of depth to his workaholic husband role, but Kristoffer Polaha was scarily monotonous and I have no idea why they made Tara Summers play her part with an American accent. It dipped in and out during every damn scene.

There's a lot I liked about Ringer. The visual flourishes, the idea itself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. While the pilot was nowhere near as great as I had expected (maybe it's my own responsibility for getting so excited), it would be crazy to say the show doesn't have potential. Regardless of its faults, I'm in it for the long haul.

Notables

- Buffy would never have let that hitman take her down like that!

- Those were some mightily big bitch-shades Siobhan was wearing in the diner sequence.

- The CGI-hell boat sequence got a lot of press the day after this pilot aired. But, to be fair, none of the effects were that impressive. Even the twin-shots looked sort of phony.

- [Transmission notice: I wrote these reviews straight after watching each episode, so there's a lot of theorizing that may not make a whole lot of sense in retrospect.]

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.

3 comments:

HellBlazerRaiser said...

I so wanted to like this show. My beloved Buffy stars in it. But I just can't get into it.

I'm still taping it, so maybe I'll watch them all eventually.

Billie Doux said...

I'm still watching it. Great review, Max. Better than mine, actually.

Suzanne said...

I am still watching it too but only because my young teenaged kids love it. I don't want them watching it without me knowing what it is all about. I don't hate it but it wouldn't be my thing if it weren't the kids. I am huge Buffy fan but this show sure ain't Buffy!