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Popdose’s Fall 2011 TV Preview: “Ringer”

Welcome back to another year of the Popdose staff looking at the new slate of TV shows premiering throughout the fall season. When I say throughout, I mean it. This year the five broadcast networks will be rolling out new series all the way through October.  As we did last year, our writers will voice their opinion on the first episodes and offer our two cents on whether we think the show has a chance making it. Reviews will show up the morning following the first episodes airing. We hope you’ll check back over the course of the next couple months and voice your own opinions in the comments section.

Today, Johnny Bacardi takes a look at Sarah Michelle Geller’s much hyped return to television and her new series, Ringer.

Ringer (Tuesdays, 9 PM, the CW)   The CW is hoping that the fan following that Sarah Michelle Gellar attracted during her lengthy run as Buffy the Vampire Slayer Summers will tune in to her long-awaited (in some circles) return to TV, Ringer.

Gellar, taking a page from the Patty Duke playbook, takes on dual roles- Bridget Kelly, former stripper, druggie, prostitute who is now six months sober and also happens to be the star witness in a murder trial, and her twin sister Siobahn Martin, a wealthy socialite with some issues of her own. When Bridget decides to escape her police protection and reunite with her long-time-no-see sister, they go out on a boat ride, Siobahn gives her sis a sedative, and when Bridget awakes, she’s all alone in the boat. She finds Siobahn’s wallet, with driver’s license and credit cards, and decides to impersonate her sister in order to evade the police. Pretty much your basic Prince and the Pauper scenario.

Bridget soon finds out that her sibling’s life was no more rosy than her own; she’s in a loveless marriage with Ioan (Fantastic Four’sMr. Fantastic- hey! Buffy and Reed Richards together!) Gruffudd, who also provides a troubled teen stepdaughter (Zooey Deutch), and oh by the way, she’s been screwing her best friend’s husband…and finds out mid-episode she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, the killer she’s supposed to be testifying against gets to walk since no one’s around to point the finger at him, and of course he’s on the lookout for her as well.

Sounds pretty gnarly, doesn’t it? And believe me, that’s not all of the soapy twists and turns that this first episode contains. It aspires to the Joan Crawford/Bette Davis/Barbara Stanwyck soap opera thrillers of yore; imagine what kind of hay Hitchcock could have made with this premise.  Of course, it would help if Gellar brought more to the actress party than her soulful, haunted eyes (which do inspire more than one “You look positively anorexic” type asides from her new acquaintances); her lack of range isn’t really a liability, but one wonders what other actresses could have done. First episode director Richard Shepard plays around with the duality theme- we get a lot of scenes shot in mirrored rooms and the like, and Gellar broods next to stone gargoyles on her balcony, which is supposed to hearken back to Buffy, I suppose. The supporting cast is good, if not especially memorable, at least not yet. Mike Colter as Bridget’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor and kinda-sorta love interest makes a good impression, and it’s nice to see Tara Summers (as Bridget’s best friend, Gemma) back in a regular series again; I liked her in Dirt. Yeah, I liked that show, so what. Anyway, things move at a fairly brisk pace, and the reveal at the end promises to make things interesting, so I think this may be worth following, at least for a few weeks, just to see where it goes. Even if you’re not a Buffy fan.