September 21, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on RINGER:  Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is an ex-stripper and recovering addict who’s supposed to testify against a crime boss.  She’s watched over by an FBI agent (Nestor Carbonell) but afraid for her life, so she escapes to New York, where her wealthy, identical twin sister Siobhan (Gellar again) lives.  To Bridget’s shock, Siobhan takes a header off a boat in the middle of the ocean, and Bridget seizes the opportunity to take over Siobhan’s life.  But it turns out that Siobhan’s world is itself a tangle, with an estranged husband (Ioan Gruffudd), a lover (Kristoffer Polaha) who’s the husband of her best friend (Tara Summers), and a troubled stepdaughter (Zooey Deutsch).  Also, Siobhan’s life is as much in danger as Bridget’s–during the pilot, Bridget had to kill one of the thugs stalking Siobhan in self-defense.  And?  And Bridget doesn’t know it, but Siobhan is very much alive and plotting something in Paris.
Episode 2:  Deficiencies in the series concept are starting to surface in the first regular episode, written by creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder.  One problem is is an increasingly high level of contrivance.  The episode’s storyline mostly concerned Bridget’s attempts to get rid of the body of the man she killed in the pilot, while she plotted to clean out Siobhan’s bank account and make a break for it.  In order to ramp up the suspense, a ridiculous twist involved Siobhan’s husband’s last-second decision to hold a cocktail party in the under-contruction loft where the body was hidden, and then the dead man’s phone ringing incessantly at the party’s only quiet moment, because apparently the corpse owned the world’s only cell phone without voice mail.  The episode’s big (but predictable) twist was that when Bridget finally opened the trunk where the body was supposed to be, it had vanished.  Equally unconvincing was Bridget’s decision to stay in town purely because of her empathy for Siobhan’s party-girl stepdaughter, despite the fact that she now knows there are two separate groups of bad guys converging on her, one team aiming for Bridget and the other for Siobhan.   

More serious, in terms of the show’s tone, is the fact that it seems content to be completely humorless, thereby shortchanging viewers on one of Gellar’s greatest strengths as a leading lady.  The show doesn’t even manage much in the way of wish-fulfillment, despite the fact that Bridget is now living Siobhan’s very rich life.  Gellar also plays Bridget and Siobhan more or less interchangeably, which means we don’t get the usual pleasure of identical twin stories: watching the lead performer play two strongly contrasting characters at the same time.  Plus, Bridget shows no sign so far of being very smart–there was an opportunity in this episode to have her do something clever as she tried to figure out Siobhan’s bank PIN number, but she couldn’t do it and had to be bailed out by the bank manager.  The supporting characters are mostly dull, especially Siobhan’s husband and lover.  And the gimmick of having the last 2 minutes of each episode bring us a glimpse of Siobhan’s secret existence will get old fast.

Ringer still has promise:  the unraveling of what’s going on with Siobhan is intriguing, and Bridget’s attempt to fit into Siobhan’s life could be fun.  And Gellar has plenty of talents the show hasn’t exploited yet.  But Bridget, who’s supposed to be street-smart, needs to be more ingenious than she’s been so far, and the villains have to move beyond the level of B-movie thugs if Ringer is to be diverting fun.
Original Verdict:  Potential DVR Alert
Pilot + 1:  Give It A Few More Episodes

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."