Review: Ringer

Sarah Michelle Gellar is her own vehicle
By SHARON STEEL  |  September 8, 2011

SIOBHAN/BRIDGET No, she’s not staking big baddies through the chest, but as long as Gellar is in trouble, she’s loveable.

Sixty seconds into the CW's new psychological thriller Ringer (Tuesdays @ 9 pm on the CW, beginning September 13), star Sarah Michelle Gellar is seen running from a masked attacker in the darkness. This is a familiar scene, one that will immediately hook Gellar's obsessive Buffy: The Vampire Slayer devotees who have followed her here. The actress is never better than when she is up against something evil, whether it's the supernatural or the morally depraved. Seven years after Buffy — now a beloved memory relived via the occasional rerun or sing-along prom — Gellar has found herself shilling for a very different kind of big baddie: the one that lives in her character's own head, capable of being even more perverse than the nasty, witty vamps who made Buffy's sexy graveyard adventures so much fun. In Ringer, she's her own worst enemy.

Or is she? Gellar plays a set of identical twin sisters, Siobhan and Bridget Martin. The former is the sort of lady the New York Times' Bill Cunningham would sprint after on Fifth Avenue, just to capture the flutter of her scarf, her off-the-runway coat, her bug-eyed sunglasses. Siobhan also has a strapping British husband, a penthouse Park Avenue apartment, and a weekend home in the Hamptons. Creepily enough, nobody — not even her fella — knows she has a twin sister. That would be Bridget, a former drug-addled stripper turned waitress who has only been sober for six months and is in quite a state. She's reconnected with her sister to satisfy step nine of her recovery program — and also because she's set to testify against a mob boss in a highly publicized trial. The crime king murdered another dancer, and Bridget was the only witness. Naturally, she's next on the hit list.

In a rapid trajectory of events that unfolds within 20 minutes of the premiere, Siobhan disappears, and Bridget, who runs away after stealing her security guard's gun the night before she's due to testify, smoothly steals her sister's life. Seeing Gellar as the grungy, sarcastic Bridget-pretending-to-be-Siobhan feels most natural — but there's also something delicious and weird about her overly enunciated role as the better dressed, scarily coiffed sophisticated twin. Perhaps this is because both sisters are pathological liars and sociopaths, a definite plus for a noir mystery set in a contemporary world. And it's a pleasure to watch Gellar back on the small screen, even if she's in heels instead of shitkicker boots, or cowering in fear instead of spitting out caustic witticisms before staking giant men in the chest. As long as she's in danger, she's entirely loveable.

"I can't believe what I've done. I didn't think I had a choice. Siobhan killed herself. I don't know why she did it," Bridget confides to her sponsor during a panicked phone call. "I'm the only one that knows that she's dead. I saw a way out and I took it. They all think I'm her. They all think I'm Siobhan." But do they? And is she really dead? Gellar has said in interviews that Ringer creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder already had a projected three seasons mapped out with precise plot twists before she signed on to the show, which is part of why she says she was so eager to be part of the series — she's playing the two leads, plus executive producing. She hates red herrings and doesn't want to enrage viewers by committing them to something addictive yet directionless, piggybacking on potential Lost trauma. Gellar has our backs. And Ringer actually knows where it's going.

Related: Down the Tubes, Review: The Newsroom, Review: Point Blank, More more >
  Topics: Television , Sarah Michelle Gellar, tv, drama,  More more >
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