Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I have a weakness for prime-time soaps, so I can forgive a lot of cheesiness and ridiculous plotting if a show hooks me with memorable characters, juicy twists and a pulpy sense of fun. I'm the guy who watched nearly the entire original run of Melrose Place, after all, and I'm still following and (mostly) enjoying Gossip Girl. Ringer is undoubtedly silly, and like this season's other unabashed soap opera, ABC's Revenge, it has a limited premise that seems like it will be difficult to stretch out over multiple seasons. But the pilot hits all the right notes, driven by Sarah Michelle Gellar's hammy lead performance as a pair of twin sisters who each harbor their own dark secrets. The scenes in which hardscrabble recovering addict/former stripper and prostitute (she's an overachiever!) Bridget and icy socialite Siobhan interact look seriously awkward, and I hope that the show's main hook (in which Bridget assumes Siobhan's identity after Siobhan appears to have committed suicide) will keep the two characters from having to interact onscreen too often.

Special-effects constraints aside, the rest of the episode is entertainingly trashy, with the confused Bridget trying to navigate the details of Siobhan's messy world, including a distant husband (Ioan Gruffudd), a secret lover, a bitchy teenage stepdaughter and a life of attending benefits and choosing interior-design elements. Oh, and someone seems to want Siobhan dead just about as bad as some other someone wants Bridget dead, which was the reason for the whole switcheroo in the first place. It put me in mind of Bette Davis' two movies in which she played her own twin, Dead Ringer and A Stolen Life, both of which involve one sister taking over the other sister's life (one even involves a similar boating incident as the one in this show). Gellar is no Bette Davis, but she has fun with her dual role and isn't afraid to play up the characters' nastiness. Ringer could easily fall apart under the weight of its own labored plotting (I didn't even get to Nestor Carbonell as an FBI agent hot on Bridget's trail), but for now it's worth watching if you, like me, have a fondness for soapy stories about catty, devious schemers and the people who love (and betray) them. 

Premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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