We’ve all seen “The Parent Trap” (choose your favorite “twins” played by Haley Mills in the original or Lindsey Lohan in the remake) and perhaps you’ve even seen “Dead Ringers” (the idea of two Jeremy Irons is creepy enough without the other shenanigans) and as for real twins (not just duplicated ones through the magic of special effects) there’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who, granted, were more eerily the same as young girls on a sitcom than as fashion mavens, but have always been pretty spooky.”
We’ve all seen “The Parent Trap” (choose your favorite “twins” played by Haley Mills in the original or Lindsey Lohan in the remake) and perhaps you’ve even seen “Dead Ringers” (the idea of two Jeremy Irons is creepy enough without the other shenanigans) and as for real twins (not just duplicated ones through the magic of special effects) there’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who, granted, were more eerily the same as young girls on a sitcom than as fashion mavens, but have always been pretty spooky. Identical twins are not only fascinating but sometimes sinister; it’s as close as humans get to cloning (so far). As exact copies of each other, twins are often confused for each other accidentally, but given inclination and planning, they could also swap places and fool anyone into believing “Joe” is actually “Jim.”
Now Sarah Michelle Gellar, infamous for her iconic role in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” is returning to television in “Ringer,” not just once, but twice, as a set of twins – Bridget and Siobhan. Bridget has had a rough life as a stripper and a recovering drug addict who now finds herself on the run after witnessing a murder. Her sister Siobhan seems to have it made living life among the upper crust, a new husband (Ioan Gruffudd) and stepdaughter who know nothing about her sister Bridget. The fun starts when Bridget visits her sister Siobhan, and after a brief reunion vanishes out in the open ocean, presumably dead. Bridget doesn’t know what to do – she’s still in danger, being chased by the men responsible for the murder she witnessed and also being pursued by the cops, specifically FBI Agent Machado (Nestor Carbonell, “Lost”).
She sees an opportunity to elude her pursuers and maybe have a second chance at a better life. Bridget decides to become Siobhan, stepping into her life and leaving hers (what there was of it) behind. Siobhan never told anyone she even had a sister, so no need to explain that Bridget is “dead,” and when her Machado tracks down “Siobhan” she feigns ignorance of her sister’s whereabouts. It all seems so easy. Of course, if it were, there’d hardly be a show. No, of course, Siobhan has disappeared for a reason; maybe it’s because of her affair with her best friend’s husband (Kristoffer Polaha, “Life Unexpected”) or something far more sinister. All Bridget knows is that she has traded one world of trouble for another, and her previous life isn’t really put behind her at all.
Gellar is the focal point of the show and of course is pulling double duty as the twins; at San Diego Comic Con she even joked that she’s really playing more than just two characters on the show, if you count that Bridget is trying to pass as Siobhan, and it’s possible that there will be even more convoluted permutations of her acting as one person trying to pass themselves off as another person. The pilot feels rushed and unpolished, though apparently there have been some reshoots which I was not able to see prior to writing the review. Hopefully they did manage to refine some of the effects work of Gellar playing opposite herself. Those types of effects should be a no brainer by now, but many of the scenes looked like they were done on antiquated effects software. The green screen work for the scene out in the ocean felt particularly absurd, so I pray that when the show airs that has been corrected.
Moving beyond some of the more superficial issues of the pilot, the story is a decent setup of some solid traditional soap opera. The evil twin scenario has been played out quite often, and Gellar is capable of holding her own as multiple characters. Unfortunately, the pilot did little to assure that Gellar was comfortable with the job ahead of her. The supporting players are all solid, though it seems a little strange to see Nestor Carbonell off the island, but there is no shortage of eye candy for the CW female viewership. It’s hard to feel sorry for a girl trapped between two men like Polaha and Gruffudd. The show certainly skews toward the older end of the CW demographic, and they have loudly trumpeted this show as a return of “Buffy” to her fans (of course real fans know that “Buffy” never aired on The CW, but rather on each of the two networks which ultimately were merged to form The CW). Whether the nostalgic fans will be enough to sustain the show is questionable, but by adding the other well known actors to the mix, such as Carbonell from “Lost” and Polaha, who was very popular on the now canceled “Life Unexpected” there’s a real chance the show will have legs beyond the niche fanbase of Whedonites. If it does, Gellar seems happy to be back in her small screen element, and given the premise of the show, there are certainly years of potential stories in the tank for her to play with (and who knows – maybe the twins are hiding a third sister somewhere!)
“Ringer” premieres on The CW on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 9 PM EST.