by Anna Robertson
While “Ringer” managed to improve over its painful pilot episode, the show took another turn for the worse with this week’s episode, “If You Ever Want a French Lesson.” Any sense of irony and humor that was developed last week is noticeably absent – the tone of the show sadly has veered back onto the path of melodramatic self-importance.
As the season has progressed thus far, it becomes ever clearer that “Ringer” is merely a star vehicle for Sarah Michelle Gellar and not the ensemble show it could have been. Her character is the only one given any dimension whatsoever, and yet Gellar’s performance is hampered by the fact that her costars simply cannot match her effortless charisma. The characters are still weak, underwritten stereotypes, so it is difficult to place the blame on the actors alone. The cast members try to deliver the clunky dialogue with sincerity, but only manage to elicit unintended laughter during the episode’s most serious moments.
The show’s plot as a whole is convoluted for the sake of confusing the audience. Many of the plot elements introduced are completely unnecessary. Loose threads intended to create complexity only add to the show’s haphazard feel when they are obvious attempts at evoking curiosity without earning it. “French Lesson” experiments unsuccessfully with adding “hip” music to the show, which increases the feeling that the show desperately wants to be something that it is not. “Ringer” is not funny enough to be a comedy, not intriguing enough to be a real mystery, and not gritty enough to be gripping.
The CW, as a network with lower budgets and a largely teen audience, simply cannot air the content necessary to create the slick action piece that “Ringer” wants to be – violence is skimmed over and sometimes even somewhat laughable when portrayed. This week’s episode contains a scene of torture that succeeds only in torturing the audience with its bad slapstick-style punches.
The core of the show’s problems is in its writing. The issue is not that the plot often veers into the ridiculous – shows such as “True Blood”, “Pushing Daisies”, and Gellar’s former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” manage to still be enjoyable despite their fantastical elements. “Ringer” lacks the campy self-awareness that these shows possess, and requires the audience to suspend disbelief to an excessive degree. The dialogue and characters are simply not thought-out well enough to actually invest the audience in what happens to Siobhan, Bridget, or any of the other characters. “Ringer” began with an interesting premise and made a painstaking effort to create something unique. It’s too bad that we can’t bring ourselves to care.
Anna Robertson is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.