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Ringer (The CW) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review
What we have all been waiting for has finally happened: The Fall 2011 TV Season has kicked off. The first show on the list is The CW’s Drama series ‘Ringer’, which was initially made for sister-network CBS. It premiered on September 13th in the Tuesdays at 9/8c timeslot. Sarah Michelle Gellar (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’) stars as the twin sisters Bridget and Siobhan, where Bridget eventually assumes the life of Siobhan. This concept has been visited many times before, becoming a little trite (‘The Parent Trap’, ABC Family’s ‘The Lying Game’ and ‘Switched At Birth’, and so on and so forth), but when well executed it could yield a great show. If it does, Sarah Michelle Gellar will help The CW grow up, as she did over a decade ago with The CW’s predecessor The WB as Buffy.
Bridget is a recovering addict and a stripper from Wyoming, and she witnessed a mob killing. Being arrested for prostitution, she makes a deal; she’ll testify against the mobster and in return the charges against her will be dropped. She absconds from the FBI agent that is guarding her because she is afraid of being killed by the mob.
Siobhan lives in the state of New York and is the complete opposite of Bridget, or so it seems. She is successful and married to a self-made millionaire Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd), and never told him about her low-life sister.
Having nowhere else to go, Bridget turns to her twin sister. Together, they take a ride on Siobhan’s boat to catch up. After sleeping for a while on the boat, Bridget wakes up, finding Siobhan has disappeared. Being on the run for the mob, and the only one who knows that her sister is missing, Bridget feels like she has no choice but to assume Siobhan’s identity.
Bridget struggles in impersonating Siobhan; she has to find out what her life is like, without the people around her noticing she is an impostor. Apart from Siobhan’s husband Andrew and his daughter (Zoey Deutch), there is her colleague and best friend Gemma (Tara Summer), her job, and of course, Siobhan turns out to have an affair with Gemma’s husband Henry (Kristoffer Polaha).
When the FBI, in the person of agent Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell), comes to Siobhan’s house, Bridget sees her plan falling apart. But agent Machado doesn’t suspect anything and believes she is Siobhan. He tells her that Bridget is indeed in danger of being killed by the mob, and that she is also wanted by the FBI, as the charges against her still stand.
When the doctor calls, asking why she didn’t show up for her appointment, Bridget finds out that Siobhan was about one month pregnant, most likely with Henry. Then, Gemma calls her and asks if she wants to meet her. Bridget shows up, but there is no sign of Gemma. Suddenly, she is attacked. But was the target of the attack Bridget, or Siobhan?
Right from the start, you get pulled into the story. You have to look past some of the cliches such as the rich-sister-poor-sister life swap, but then you’ll see that the story really has potential. One thing I’m not very fond of is the choice for Sarah Michelle Gellar as lead character, though. Her acting, at least in the pilot, is now and then no more than mediocre.
In a pilot, there is often not enough time to sketch all characters entirely, but in ‘Ringer’, they should have tried harder. Apart from their clothing and the way they wear their hair, it is never really clear whether we see Bridget, Siobhan or Bridget-as-Siobhan. Apart from their weight difference (which is mentioned about half a dozen times; surely a nice touch, but stressed just a little too much), the only difference between the twin sisters is the sarcasm Bridget has, but Siobhan lacks. The three male leading characters are not very distinguished either; for now, they are just there for their looks, and to say “Wow, you seem like a different person”.
There is a lot of symbolism in ‘Ringer’. At the beginning of the pilot, Bridget is staying in the ‘Double Nickel Motel’, which has a logo of two Native Americans facing each other. The mobster against whom she was to testify were also Native American, and the ‘double’ part obviously refers to the twins. The episode also features many mirrors, a huge picture of Gellar-as-Siobhan’s face and, if there are no mirrors at hand, reflecting windowpanes.
The parts that have Bridget and Siobhan together in it make it quite obvious (apart from the looks of course) that the two roles are played by one actress. In conversations, we see Gellar opposite an obvious stand-in with sunglasses and a wig. Also, the scene on the boat is obviously not entirely shot at sea, but mostly in a studio. These are some little things that get annoying after a while. Luckily, Bridget and Siobhan are not likely to meet very often in the future.
Would I recommend anyone to watch ‘Ringer’? I’m not sure yet. Granted, it is very different from anything else on The CW, but it is a good thing it moved there, because it would most likely have been a flop on CBS. We have been told that in the next couple of episodes, there will be many flashbacks, so this gives Gellar the opportunity to portray Siobhan some more. She might need a little time to adjust to being back on a series, eight years after Buffy ended, and will Bridget and Siobhan be more like identical twins in the common meaning, rather than behaving exactly the same. Maybe we need to give the series some time to show what it is really worth.
- Upcoming Drama TV Series: Fall 2011
Previews of upcoming drama series for the Fall 2011 TV Season