Ringer: It's Easy to Cry, When This Much Cash Is Involved

"Somebody's trying to kill me."

Ringer is a series that works well in bits and pieces, but struggles to be much at all when put together as a whole episode. This was very much an episode of varying subplots being thrown at us all at once -- some that haven't been seen for weeks, some that are painful in their predictability, and others that essentially feel like a bombardment of uninteresting information. The latter is obviously occurring with Bridget who, for the second week in a row, gets driven around Manhattan picking up clues in ridiculous places. It's another waste of the character, somebody stuck in stumble-mode where she conveniently walks right into the path of another clue, all the while completely ignorant to the fact that her sister is so obviously alive. It's ludicrous that she hasn't even theorized that Siobhan's suicide was faked.

I guess the big shocker this week (and I use the word 'shocker' in it's most un-shocking sense) was the reveal that somebody on the writing staff watched Wild Things and presumably thought that it would make for great television if all the nudity, orgies, cat-fights and campy dialogue were cut right out. The whole allure of that movie was the overt Aaron Spelling soft-porn quality to it, and watching the exact same story unfold on Ringer only makes that movie seem so much more fun. It's also a subplot that already feels at odds with the characters as we know them. Juliet has been growing as a person for the far majority of the season, and yet we're supposed to believe that she's been cooking up this scheme for all that time? Mr. Carpenter and Tessa both remain ciphers at this point, too, so the obvious routes the story will undoubtedly run down (Tessa's removal from the plot, the burgeoning love triangle) will have considerably less affect than they otherwise could have had. We knew Neve Campbell's trailer trash wannabe, Denise Richards' rich seductress and Matt Dillon's pervy teacher. Here we don't even understand Juliet at this point, let alone these two other folks. Eh.

Elsewhere, I finally feel as if Sarah Michelle Gellar is playing two distinctively different characters, especially in Siobhan's scenes with Henry. She had a cold detachment through a lot of her screentime here, especially when she confronted him about picking up her video call, and later in their final scene together. She's finally putting across a ruthless vibe, even if her business-ruining scheme doesn't make for great television. It's all laptops and button-pushing, and soap operas need something a little more visceral.

This episode was, like so many Ringer hours, just 'okay'. It's a show that feels a lot like candy, something that completely works for you in the moment, but ultimately leaves you still hungry right after you've swallowed. Most of the events here (Olivia's blackmail, trust fund scandals, presumably dead kid) are fine on paper, but they feel so detached and vacant on-screen -- a show that just constantly misfires when moved from script to camera.

Notables

- If I remember correctly, wasn't Olivia's blackmail photograph a lot more PG-13 when it was glimpsed before? The one seen here was all nudity and bed-sharing. Contrivance, please.

- It's lucky that Siobhan is involved with so many stupid men. "The naked dude in my bed? Totally my brother". Aagghh!

- This is pretty unrelated to anything, but I can't understand why anybody would want to watch a show like this again -- on DVD or when it's re-run. Networks rely on future profits in syndication and merchandise, and Ringer is absolutely the epitome of a show that only mildly works one time around, yet would drive you to insanity if watched any more than that. Well-written serialized shows have something each week that would make you want to watch it over again at some point down the line. Like Revenge or vintage Lost. Not just one long story that's broken down into increasingly annoying cliffhangers.

Quotage

Olivia: Are you going to invite me in?
Henry: Do I need to? Are you a vampire?

Tessa: I can't do this.
Juliet: Sure you can. You showed up wearing a pant suit and everything.

Tessa: Good job at the court-house, by the way.
Juliet: Thanks. You too, the tears were a nice touch.
Tessa: Well, it's easy to cry, when this much cash is involved.

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.

5 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Max, I don't watch this show anymore, and likely never will, but I always look forward to reading your reviews on Wednesday. Thank you!

Billie Doux said...

One thing I do love about this series is the episode titles. This one made me laugh out loud. Great review, Max.

Anonymous said...

I usually laugh at the show but this week, that didn´t happen because so many stupid things happened. I mean, the Juliet plot doesn´t make any sense and the characters are so stupid. I´m gonna watch the rest of the season still but if it´s renewed (which I doubt) I´m not gonna watch it.

ChrisB said...

Josie - I'm with you. Any show with SMG I'll give the benefit of the doubt, but I am done with this one. The reviews, however, are great!

Anonymous said...

They went down the "Wild Things" route..bleh. Other than the episode titles this show is losing interest for me. Still love the reviews though. I'll be surprised if they renew the show.
Anna