Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ringer - S1 E1 - Pilot

Following the mysterious disappearance of her twin sister Siobahn, fugitive Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Gellar) assumes her identity and all that comes with it; an extravagant lifestyle, a cold husband (Ioan Gruffudd), a resentful step-daughter and so much more. Hot on her trail is FBI Agent Machado (Nestor Carbonell) attempting to both apprehend and protect her...

Spoilers after the jump.

The new season of television has only just begun but I am ready to declare Ringer to be the funniest comedy out there! What an ingenious sitcom set-up too; all wives know how complicatedlife can get so to drop an unitiated recovering drug addict into the role is pure gold. In all seriousness, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. It would swerve from being very serious to these utterly ridiculous scenarios with dirt cheap production values.

The obvious target for ridicule is the entire scene on the boat both preceding and directly after Siobahn's disappearance. Evidently, as the 'twins' were together, a hefty amount of FX work was required, and apparently that included not just the actress but the boat as well. I know network tv shows, especially new ones tend to have very limited budgets but it was embarassing to watch, so incredibly fake as it was. I would say it detracted from the sisters bonding but then the other big problem was any scene involving both of the sisters which also looked fake.

After Bridget replaces Siobahn, several characters comment on how much thinner she looks, but personally I can't tell the difference between thin and very thin (which in theory would either make me an awesome or terrible boyfriend depending on how you looked at it). Not that I trust them, but future previews suggest Siobahn Martin really is dead which I can only hope is true for two reasons, a) because the twin scenes were not good and b) if she's not, this show is already teetering on the precipice of day-time-soap-operary and that would really be too much.

This episode was somewhat fuzzy on details, it was a pilot I suppose. I wasn't entirely sure what Siobahn was supposed to actually be other than of course a trophy wife of some sort. What exactly does she do all day? It seemed like, well, nothing. Shopping perhaps. But then why would there be a giant photo of herself in the lobby of the apartment building? Pure vanity? Hopefully this gets clarified as it bothered me too. Perhaps it's intended to be a mystery like the photo Bridget finds of Siobahn with a young child who is mysteriously absent in her day-to-day life. Perhaps a deceased son which is the cause of distance between Siobahn and husband Andrew?

Guest cast notes for future episodes indicate an expanded role for Siobahn's step-daughter Juliet. I'm what all the cool recreational drug users out there would call a square and had no idea what the heck the item she was caught with and Andrew places on the table was - presumably some sort of drug paraphenalia, a crack pipe? Bridget obvious does know what it was and while she is at first insistent that Juliet must leave, a common interest could bring the two together - although of course, Siobahn wasn't an addict, so the topic might be difficult to broach.

Before we get on to the best friends of the family, a quick note about Nestor Carbonell. He was the best thing about the pilot which is not saying an awful lot but, at least right now, his side of the story seems so disconnected from all the other stuff going on with the Martin Family. It's always tough when a principal cast member is only connected to the rest of the show through a single character, hopefully that too can be rectified quickly. The motel where Bridget was stashed for protection before she bolted, the whole set-up ironically reminded me of Lost. We're talking about a 90lb woman overpowering an agent and taking his gun? Shades of Kate Austen. Plus of course, the officer she leaves tied up in the shower looks and sounds a lot like Edward Mars, although it doesn't appear to have been the same actor.

It's impossible for someone like me not to make the connection to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I see Sarah Michelle Gellar. I was able to put it out of my mind for most of the show, but in the prologue and the same scene near the end of the show where she is running from the masked man with a crowbar, I couldn't but think to myself, "Buffy would kick this guy's ass!" Of course, she just runs and slaps and manages to get a lucky gun shot in. When SMG was working on The Grudge she remarked on how she had to learn to "stop running like a superhero" and she is appropriately feeble here too, in stark and contradictory contrast to disarming an officer of the law at the start of the show.

Finally, Henry, the husband of Siobahn's best friend is a creep despite what he insists otherwise. The pregnancy sub-plot... it just made me cringe. It's so, as I alluded to earlier, so day-time soap-opera-like and there is absolutely no good way this can end. Crowbar guy it seems was actually after Siobahn, and showed up after best friend Gemma summoned Bridget to the loft. Was she trying to knock off Siobahn for having an affair with Henry? Does she know Bridget somehow and is in on the plot to erase her? I'm not sure any of the above is true, actually I have a suspicion that whoever was writing this didn't really think it through. I'm certainly not clear what happened at the very end of the episode. It was Bridget taking the phone call, not Siobahn, right?

Ringer was messy and unintentionally hilarious but the whole mystery, intrigue and body-swap antics are in my wheel house so I'll give it a shot. Right now however, it looks rather uncoordinated and low budget though, just another average network show.

"Ringer" airs Tuesdays on the CW at 9:00 pm EST.

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