Warning. It’s nigh on impossible to review Ringer without at least a few Spoilers, but I will stick to the ones that occur in the first act and avoid the later turning points.
This series is all about Sarah Michelle Gellar or, perhaps even two SMGs.
It marks her return to a series role following her hit series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So successful in that role was she that she still holds a passionate fanbase. A lot of vampire blood has passed since 2003 so hopefully they are ready to embrace her in a new role and a new genre.
We open in Wyoming, a state frequently overlooked by television in favor of the backdrops of LA, New York, Florida, Hawaii and the deep south.
Bridget (Gellar) is a recovering addict and ex-stripper, rebuilding her life via therapy sessions with a self-help group. But Bridget is also under a Witness Protection plan run by FBI Agent Victor Machado (Lost‘s Richard Alpert).
Otherwise laying low in a motel room ahead of testifying in a murder trial against a mob leader, she’s not convinced she is safe and makes a getaway to meet her twin sister Siobhan, whom she hasn’t seen in six years.
Siobhan (also played by Gellar) is a New York socialite who’s never revealed to husband Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) that Bridget exists. When the twins take time out in The Hamptons there’s a lot of mysterioso stuff about what went on in the past and allusions to their sibling rift.
But when Siobhan disappears at sea during an afternoon on a speedboat, Bridget makes a convenient switch by adopting her sister’s lifestyle hoping nobody will notice the difference. Hey presto, new life solved.
Yep, this premise is the stuff of Mills and Boons novels, or even an episode of The Bold and The Beautiful, as we parachute into the lifestyle of the wealthy on the back of a lie.
She’s on the run, dodging killers and cops, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and doing her best to fake it with Siobhan’s family and friends. In this sense Ringer is an escapist thriller, more soap than action, more style than substance and more aspiration than perspiration.
Nevertheless, Gellar still holds up rather well as a more mature female heroine than her sexy bad-ass juvenile Buffy. You can almost forgive some of the unsophisticated dialogue merely for the fact that she’s back on the small screen. Aside from a few twists and turns in the Pilot episode there’s not a lot of subtlety here. Contemporary pop tunes smooth over the logic.
Having Gellar double as herself in Bewitched-style scenes is passable stuff, but whoever gave a green-screen speedboat scene the tick of approval needs to go back to CGI school. It’s up there with the worst of them.
Gellar does most of the heavy lifting here, with Ioan Gruffudd suitably unlikable as her instant husband and demonstrating that all was not well in Siobhan’s life. Others including Carbonell and therapy-group buddy Malcolm (Mike Colter) look like they will have more to do as episodes unfold.
Hiding out from the mob is hardly new terrain. I remember Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon doing it with hilarious results in Some Like it Hot, or Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act. Ringer has some hi-jinks but there’s none of the humour.
Gellar is also an Executive Producer of this story, created by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder (Supernatural, Love You to Death). I’m not convinced it will enjoy the same success as Buffy, but it’s good to have her back.
Ringer airs 9:30pm Sundays on TEN