My review of the series premiere of Ringer, the new CW show starring Sarah Michelle Gellar is after the jump.
I am hoping that this show is sufficiently interesting enough to write weekly reviews, but if not I’ll likely just pop in with a review when something significant happens. Hope you enjoy this review and come back for more.
Note: This review discusses nearly every aspect of the show, so if you haven’t watched yet come back when you have done so.
I tried to avoid reviews of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new show, Ringer, because I wanted to watch it as “pure” as possible. Even so, I got the sense that people thought the pilot was kind of a mess. But since I didn’t read anything about it really, I didn’t go into the show knowing why people felt that way.
Well, turns out: Ringer is kind of a mess. But let me back up and lay out the basics:
- Gellar plays Bridget Kelly, ex-stripper and drug addict who is the only witness to a mob murder. She’s got an FBI agent (Nestor Carbonell, asked to do little) and a brotha for a sponsor (Mike Colter, asked to do nothing) lookin out for her.
- Gellar also plays Bridget’s wealthy Manhattanite twin sister, Siobhan Martin, who is married to a guy (Ioan Gruffudd) she kinda doesn’t love, has a bratty stepdaughter (Zoey Deutch, looking far too old to play a teenager), and a best friend (Tara Summers, doing a lot with very little) whose husband (Kristopher Polaha) she’s sleeping with.
- Bridget runs to Siobhan out of fear that she’ll be killed by the mob boss she’s supposed to testify against. And Siobhan’s got secrets, which we and Bridget learn after Siobhan allegedly kills herself and Bridget assumes her life.
There are two things that make the Ringer pilot less than successful: Bridget and Siobhan are not sufficiently distinguished and the attempt at noir falls completely flat.
Neither Bridget nor Siobhan really jumps off the screen in the pilot and it is left to Gellar to really distinguish the characters. All we really know is that Siobhan is kind of cold and standoffish and Bridget is … the bad one. That’s not a lot to go on. So Gellar distinguishes the two women mostly through physicality – really well in the scene where the two women walk into Siobhan’s penthouse – since she has a hard time not giving mannered line readings.
Unlike some other folks though, the light sketching of the lead roles doesn’t bother me so much because there is only so much you can do in a 42-minute pilot. And there is a lot to establish with this particular show.
Ringer is most concerned with creating a film noir-esque tone and style — and that is where it really fails. The pilot works overtime trying to build intrigue, but all the dialogue is on-the-nose and lacking in even a little subtlety. The art direction and cinematography conflict at every turn. The show is so bright and yet sort of gray and dingy. And it’s both overstuffed with plotting and glacially paced. You are aware that a lot is happening, but it all seems to be happening in slow motion.
Not a good look.
But I have to admit that I’m sort of intrigued by what actually drove Siobhan and Bridget apart so much that Siobhan would fake her death in order to punish her twin. That final moment of Gellar as Siobhan was masterfully played and shot and does exactly what it is supposed to do: intrigue you. And it really is a good sign that the show might actually turn on that relationship rather than either of the women’s individual issues.
Couple of other thoughts:
- The framing device is actually not all that effective at all. The show could have benefitted from opening with Bridget witnessing the murder, both because it would help us really understand how much trouble she’s in and more fully ground the character.
- Not really knowing Bridget and Siobhan made it hard to understand most of what Bridget was doing as Siobhan. Why would Bridget prefer her sister’s husband to Henry? Is it because she is an addict and doesn’t want to be dishonest?
- The casting feels weird to me. It’s just a lot of men who I’ve never been impressed with in anything before, other than Carbonell, and Tara Summers doing the best work of any of the actors.
- Sarah is too thin! Glad they worked that into the show.
What did y’all think?