Ringer: It Just Got Normal

"I've been acting like a different person and it doesn't make sense."

After middling reviews, dwindling ratings and an extended hiatus, I had expected Ringer's return to be a lot more auspicious than it actually was. Taking the show off the air for two months usually results in a little bit of behind-the-scenes tinkering, but annoyingly It Just Got Normal was more of the same. While I wasn't exactly any less enthused than I was back in November, there didn't seem to be many attempts here to forward the show's momentum, especially when most of the stories have barely lurched on from where we last left them. Considering the CW plugged the hell out of Ringer's comeback, it's a little disappointing.

The only true moments of interest, like always, came from Bridget and Siobhan. It's still frustrating to see Bridget appear so stagnant and passive as a character, but Siobhan's arrival in New York provoked some minor sparks. She's already folding into the double-cross narrative here, happy to portray her own twin sister playing her, as well as stalking Bridget as she gets intimate with her hubbie. Meanwhile, she's risking it all by being so gratuitously romantic with Henry, only adding to his confusion since Bridget remains cold towards him. Sure, none of this exactly equaled the explosive sparkage better shows would have probably launched into, but it's not exactly boring.

Unfortunately, the same overriding problems permeate the rest of Ringer. Outside of the twin hoodoo, the ensemble cast are almost universally weak. Juliet's rape drama continues to play out in an amusingly mundane form as she gets drunk again, cuts herself off from her family and later tells Bridget what happened -- leading to brief a charity gala smackdown. Zoey Deutch is giving it her all, but the story is weak, and I hate whenever we're supposed to question whether a rape victim is telling the truth or not. It unintentionally provokes a 'victim-blaming' subtext, and it makes for awkward television when it's not even written convincingly at that.

Similarly, both Malcolm and Agent Machado remain ciphers. While Malcolm does get himself a job at Andrew's company, it feels a little strained in order to keep him around. Agent Machado's subplot remains so alienated in its own little bubble that you really feel for Nestor Carbonell and wonder why the writers haven't even attempted to draw him closer to Bridget and Siobhan. Either make him more integral to the Siobhan scheme in some way, or remove him from the show entirely. Right now he feels redundant.

"It Just Got Normal" is perfectly fine as a random Ringer episode, but it's concerning that no effort appears to have been made to improve the show and fix some of its major flaws. Siobhan's deeper involvement in the show is promising, but they can't keep relying on Sarah Michelle Gellar's natural charisma to salvage the series, especially when even she appears a little lost right now.

Notables

- It feels a little awkward posting reviews that so few people read, but I always said that I'm in it for the long haul, and I have absolutely no problem finishing out the season.

- Madchen Amick's guest spot is another example of promising ideas that end up falling flat. This could have been a biting little subplot, but it turned out to be pretty unassuming.

- Let's not talk about that broke-down wig Sarah was sporting for most of the episode. Eek.

- If the whole acting thing doesn't work out, the girl playing the diner waitress could moonlight as a dog whistle. What a shrill voice...

Quotage

Juliet: My stepmom used to hate me, and sometimes I think my dad did, too. But lately things are, like, not awful between us. It just got normal. And I kind of want it to stay that way.

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.

12 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I had really hoped Sarah Michelle Gellar would get a better vehicle than this, because you're right, Max -- her talent is formidable but she can't carry an entire show with it. But hey, you certainly lucked out with American Horror Story! Who knew it would be such a hit?

Anonymous said...

I really do love this show, though sometimes I can't figure out why. I just keep reminding that the first season and a half of Buffy was in no way indicative of how awesome the series would become.

Anonymous said...

The show is a big "meh" for me, but I really want to love it and I'm sticking with it out of BtVS loyalty. Fingers crossed that the writers will have a flash of inspiration and this show will get exciting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review Max. I also have a problem with the portrayal of the rape. That story is all over the place. I also want to love this show, but can't. Bridget is too good. Siobhan is inconsistent.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I was really disappointed with this episode. It had some okay moments but it was too disjointed for it's own good. Have you tried Revenge?

Anonymous said...

Ah, Revenge..delicious soapy goodness. I want Ringer to be that good, but sadly it isn't. Thanks for reviewing the show anyhow. Maybe it'll improve.
Anna

Suzanne said...

I was also hoping for an upgrade after the hiatus, but it was not to be. I wouldn't be watching if it weren't for my kids who are in their early teens wanting to watch it. I spend time with them while watching but sometimes it is incredibly boring.

SMG is still a good actress, but they aren't giving her much to work with. Her chemistry with the other dull characters is the antithesis of what it was with the other characters on Buffy. There just isn't any chemistry or spark on this show. I am very disappointed.

Thanks for the great review, though!

danielcw said...

"It feels a little awkward posting reviews that so few people read"

So not many people read them?
Compared to other reviews on this site, or in general?

I never noticed a counter on the site, that we, the readers can see.

Olga said...

"It feels a little awkward posting reviews that so few people read"

Don't think you have to worry about that - we DO read! :) I think the problem is that it keeps being so disappointing (the show, not your reviews :) that most of times there isn't much to say.

I'm still wondering why is it I watch, but I'm planning on dragging this 'pleasure' out till the end!

So, thanks for reviewing it, it makes this whole 'ringer' experience bearable.

maxpower03 said...

Thanks for all the comments, guys. I wasn't expecting such a big turn-out.

To reply to a couple of points:

- There does seem to be a generally "meh" attitude among this show's audience, and I think that absolutely reflects what's been on-screen. Ringer is by no means a terrible show, but it's certainly not a good one. It's just very, very bland, and I think most people are sticking with it out of both loyalty to SMG as well as hope that the show will turn itself around at some point.

- Love Revenge! Best soap on TV right now, and far cleverer and more exciting than Ringer.

- Maybe SMG does need a strong group around her? Buffy was her show, sure, but she had an incredible ensemble alongside her. Ringer is very much 'Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ioan Gruffudd and a couple of other guys'. They need to make these dudes more interesting.

- About my comment about readership, I guess it was just a mid-season dry-spell, maybe? A lot of people were saying they were abandoning the show, and reader numbers went down a little (there's a counter on our Blogger dashboard). But it's really rewarding to see so many people commenting this time around. At the same time, though, I understand that there's sometimes little to talk about with this show. Even though it's a soap opera, there's a surprising lack of "Holy crap!" moments that make you perk up every week. It's been pretty flat throughout these eleven episodes, so the inspiration isn't there to necessarily write about it.

Again, thanks guys :)

Anonymous said...

I agree that the show is only meh and that it´s way over the top and sometimes cheesy but I love watching this, it´s hilarious. I end every episode just laughing my ass off and with a huge smile on my face. The show makes little sense but it´s a great cure for when you´re having a bad day or even just to have a big laugh and spend the rest of the day happy.

Dustin said...

My vote is that Juliet made up the rape story, but it's an overused cliched plotline and needs to be over.

Watching the show is starting to feel more like a chore than fun. These reviews and the comments are the most enjoyable part of watching each episode.

Revenge - now there's a soap I look forward to each week. The only way it could be improved is if it was reviewed here too. ;-)