The Ringer, Pilot Episode

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Here there be spoilers.

It’s hard to see Sarah Michelle Gellar do anything and not think of her as Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer. It was an immensely iconic role, the one that propelled her into fame, and a cult favorite that she played for seven years. Plus, well, Buffy’s awesome! (Yes, I’m a Buffy fan, and a Whedon fan, and make no apologies for either!)

When myself and a friend, a fellow Buffy fan, watched SMG in The Grudge a few years back, we couldn’t take the movie seriously as the psychological horror flick it was meant to be. “C’mon, Buffy, call up Giles and Willow and kick this thing’s ass already!” we laughed at the relatively helpless and useless Karen as she moped around the movie. (This didn’t stop me from getting freaked out enough by the freaky weird hair-ghost-lady that made that creaky noise when I was trying to get to sleep later, of course, but that’s just me and horror movies.)

So watching the pilot episode of The Ringer, I’m again struck with the difficulty of separating SMG from Buffy. Especially when it opens with a dash of an action sequence and all I really want is to see do an awesome scissor kick and get up and kick this guy’s ass. But we quickly cut to a few days earlier to see how she got into this mess without her Slayer powers.

Bridget is the ex-stripper, recovering addict, murder witness, convinced she’ll be killed if she testifies, so she doesn’t, thus guaranteeing the murderer goes free and comes after her. Great work, Bridget, but then again your character description does prepare us for bad decisions out of you. So she skips town to meet up with her twin sister Siobhan, whom she hasn’t seen in six years. They go for a nice boat ride, Bridget tries to apologize for, it’s implied, the death of someone named Sean. We see  a picture later–Sean looks to be Siobhan’s little boy. Big oops. Siobhan claims to have forgiven her, but also has never told her husband Bridget even exists, much less her friends and so forth. They go for a bad CGI boat ride. Bridget falls asleep, wakes up, and Siobhan is gone despite the boat being afloat in the ocean, within sight of land but still pretty far. Bridget sees a way out of her predicament and assumes Siobhan’s life, which is not so perfect–her marriage seems to be a sham, she’s banging her best friend’s husband, her teenage step-daughter hates her, and she’s supposed to be 4 weeks pregnant with said paramour’s baby. Also there’s a  huge picture of her when you walk into her luxury condo, and that’s just awkward for everyone.

So in the end, we get back to that opening scene at last for a little action–Bridget is supposed to meet her BFF at the new loft luxury condo that’s being put together by said BFF, but it’s dark and creepy and a guy in a ski mask wants to beat her with a crowbar. They struggle, she grabs a gun she stashed earlier, and shoots him with the claim that she’s not Bridget. Except, oops again, turns out this guy was trying to kill Siobhan. Who’s alive in Paris, smoking (hey! you’re pregnant, stop that!), and probably not thrilled this didn’t work out.

Okay, recap over. Phew. The thing is, for a show with a plethora of little twists, they’re all kind of…old hat or played out in a boring fashion. The rich woman with a sham marriage who’s sleeping with her friend’s husband? Who’s step-daughter hates her? Who’s life is not as perfect as it may seem? And now the pauper must play the princess, but doesn’t know how? Eh. I’ve seen all these things before. I thought it would be difficult for Bridget, who’s 6 months sober, to pretend to be a New York socialite at galas and whatnot, but they immediately give her the pregnancy excuse for that. They don’t quite tell us how Siobhan’s little boy ended up dead thanks to Bridget, and that’s fine, but…really, the only interesting thing is we don’t quite know why someone wants Siobhan dead, but we do know she is either selfish enough and/or hates her twin sister enough to manipulate her into taking her place s she can die in her stead. Except she’s got a decent set-up going, so why does Siobhan want out altogether and for the world to think she’s dead?

There’s good mystery here, but the way it’s played out so far is just kind of boring. It has all the beats of being a show full of dramatic twists, but then they happen and the outcome is what you’d expect. I want more intrigue, more actual unexpected twists, more ass-kicking…okay, it’s not necessarily that kind of show, but I DO want more personality. What we’ve got so far is the big problem: Siobhan is a cold-shouldered bitch, and Bridget is…um, desperate? I guess? I actually have no idea what Bridget’s deal is. We’re told she’s sarcastic, but she really only is in the scene when we’re told that. There’s nothing strong about her character so far. She may as well Karen from The Grudge, walking around a Japanese house over and over again until it finally decides to kill her or make her catatonic or something. What was the deal with that house anyways? It just sucked the will to live out of you. Or it did if you were Jason Behr. He should stop being in things with SMG, he always ends up dead because of her. If he shows up in The Ringer, I’m calling it now, totally gonna die ’cause of some bad decision on Bridget’s part.

Ahem! Anyways, I’ll check it out next week at least, but I’m not sure if this so-far sort of sleepy drama is going to stay on my list. Unless they add some demons, then I’m sold.

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