Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to the CW in a psychological thriller sans vampires.
It was probably best for all involved that CBS passed on the drama Ringer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, allowing sister network the CW a chance to pick up a fully formed drama with designs on intrigue if not gravitas.
It makes a lot of sense. Gellar might have elicited shrugs from the CBS demo, and, to be straight, might not have had enough heft as an actress to make that network's audience really care. But on the CW, Gellar is, of course, Buffy. So why not? In the realm of the CW's acting lineup, Gellar is pretty much Helen Mirren.
Although she often looks like a frail, wet cat in Ringer, compared to everyone else in the hyper-young-female world of the CW, she's projecting gravitas. And the series itself, despite a number of flaws, might be something fans of the CW and its warren of rich gossip girls, vampires, witches and models can view as highbrow fare.
Ringer is about twins, both played by Gellar. We first meet Bridget, a stripper and drug abuser from Wyoming, while she's at an NA meeting. She winds up in the Hamptons, where her twin sister, Siobhan, has invited her for a visit. Of course, Siobhan has not told her millionaire British husband she has a sister. Once Bridget reacquaints herself with her posh sister, they go for a boat ride. Bridget wakes up to find Siobhan gone, presumably having killed herself. Seeing an opening, Bridget decides to become Siobhan.
If you're in the writers room, you can have a lot of fun with Ringer. But the pilot doesn't waste time getting to the major complications of Bridget's big lie. Turns out Siobhan was into a lot of bad things. So much for the grass being greener in the Hamptons.
The downside to Ringer is that unless you're weaned on the CW's fare, it really doesn't have a lot of weight, and Gellar seems stretched a bit thin playing dual roles. In Buffy, she was a major ass-kicker with a smart-aleck streak. In Ringer, she's called on to be mysterious, both downbeat as Bridget and high-class as Siobhan, but ends up looking confused and meek. It hardly lends confidence that she's capable of being the cornerstone of such a show.
Give it a few episodes and see if Gellar has the range to be a dramatic magnet. If it turns out you'd rather see her driving a stake into vampires, then Ringer will be a show that didn't work on two networks, and you'll know what to do about that.
Release date 9 p.m. Sept. 13 (the CW)
Cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristoffer Polaha, Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Carbonell
Executive producers Pam Veasey, Peter Traugott
Director Richard Shepard