By Anna Robertson
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans tuned in to witness Sarah Michelle Gellar’s long-awaited return to the small screen in the premiere of “Ringer” Tuesday. Unfortunately, even her presence could not save the CW’s lukewarm pilot episode from being marred by weak dialogue and an uncertain tone.
Gellar plays Bridget, a former prostitute and drug addict preparing to testify for a vicious murder. When Bridget flees her FBI protection to visit her estranged identical twin sister, Siobhan, (also played by Gellar), she discovers that Siobhan has suddenly and inexplicably committed suicide. Bridget then seizes the opportunity to abandon her old life and to assume Siobhan’s identity. But she soon realizes that Siobhan’s world was riddled with corruption, affairs and a marriage on the brink of unraveling.
“Ringer” feels distinctly like a soap opera, but not in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. If it took a more tongue-in-cheek approach and did not channel the melodrama of telenovelas, the audience might be able to forgive its missteps. They might be able to look past the awkward dialogue, montages with heavy-handed voice-over, clichéd use of mirrors and one particularly horrendous green-screen sequence. Instead of highlighting the show’s clever cat-and-mouse brand of mystery, however, these elements only drag the episode down.
The episode also poorly establishes the majority of the supporting cast. Most appear to be flat archetypes: the steely workaholic husband, the gossipy best friend and the angst-ridden teenage product of a broken marriage. While the cast members, rounded out by a number of talented actors, do the best they can to bring these characters to life, they aren’t given much to work with. But Gellar is the sole exception, embodying the roles of both twin sisters perfectly, switching from the frantic and slightly manic Bridget to the cold and mysterious Siobhan at the drop of a hat.
To the show’s credit, the pilot does end on an intriguing note — a thrilling cliffhanger leaves viewers wondering what will happen next. Still, this climax would have been much more riveting had “Ringer” made audiences more invested in the fortune of its characters.
Though the show’s rough pilot leaves it feeling underdeveloped, the series does possess snippets of potential and might be deserving of another chance next week. At the very least, it’s good to see Gellar back on TV. If only “Ringer” could make us forget about Buffy, instead of making us yearn for her return.
Anna Robertson is a contributing writer. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.