TV Review - Ringer (2011)

Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as Buffy the Vampire Slayer for seven years. That fantasy show ended in 2003. This is Gellar's return as a series regular on network TV since then.

Gellar plays two characters here, twin sisters in fact. One sister is Bridget Kelly, a recovering alcoholic who is in the witness protection program in Wyoming. The other sister is Siobhan Martin, a Manhattan girl who is married to a wealthy investor.

Bridget escapes witness protection because she's scared the mobster against whom she's testifying will kill her. She flees to New York to hideout at her sister's place in the Hamptons. The two go boating and Bridget falls asleep. When Bridget wakes up, Siobhan is gone and a piece of her clothing is floating in the middle of the water.

Bridget assumes that Siobhan committed suicide. Bridget is devastated and sad, but no one knows that she's there and no one in New York knows who she is. Therefore, Bridget decides to pretend to be Siobhan. Bridget totally assumes her sister's identity. The rest of the series then becomes if Bridget can maintain this charade and the complications that might come from this deception.

At first, Bridget thinks it'll be easy, but a boat load of secrets about her sister's life gets revealed. Bridget has to juggle these secrets as well as people from her old life who are trying to pull her back. One of which is a FBI agent named Victor Machado, played by Nestor Carbonell (Suddenly Susan and Lost). The other is a former sponsor named Malcolm, played by Mike Colter (The Good Wife).

Created by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, it's a noir soap opera that has become a total guilty pleasure, built upon answering two questions. Why did Siobhan do what she did and will Bridget's true identity be revealed? Within that frame, there are many, many twists and surprises. The first and certainly second episode established this energy and pacing that kept me on the edge of my seat from moment to moment.

Thinking about future episodes, I felt as if there was no way that the show could maintain that energy and that suspense, but I was wrong. In the subsequent third and fourth episodes, the show did maintain that energy and that suspense, and the show never felt like it was slowing down, even though logically it has to slow down. If it's going to run for a full season of 22 episodes, it at least has to tap the breaks a little.

The show, to some extent, has done that, but even in its slower moments, the show still has this rhythm and nervousness about it, that makes you feel like you never know where it's going to go. Along the way, the writers create some good character moments. There are flashbacks where Gellar has to do double duty playing both characters at the same time, but there are other moments when she's just playing one and these moments are never wasted. We learn significant pieces to the back story and overall mystery that prove important and emotionally strong.

The TV series Terra Nova on FOX did a reference to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in its second episode, which was lame and completely over-the-top. Ringer did a reference to Hitchcock's Rope in its second episode that was better in that it wasn't overt. It was subtle and achieved the effect of being thrilling.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 9PM on CW.


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