Why “Ringer” Felt A Touch Disappointing

All summer, I have been oh so excited for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to television in “Ringer,” a show about a recovering alcoholic twin on the run from the mob who seizes the opportunity to assume her estranged sister’s life after she commits suicide. Last night, the show finally premiered on The CW. And overall, my feelings on it were … mixed. (If you haven’t watched yet, be warned—SPOILERS ahead.) I really like the concept of this show—i.e. a woman stepping into another person’s life and slowly learning that it is far, far more twisted than she ever could have imagined. I enjoyed watching Bridget trying to go with the flow and act “normal” even though she has no idea what Siobhan’s “normal” looks like. And there were some great moments in the episode. When Bridget pins her hair into a bun, making herself into Siobhan, the framing in the mirror looked very cool and evoked Kim Novak in “Vertigo.” And I loved the twist at the end—that Siobhan isn’t really dead at all and is setting some kind of winding trap for her sister.

But on the other hand, the series felt a touch awkward. Maybe it’s the twins conceit, which involved too much obvious green-screening and reverse-shoting. Bridget and Siobhan were not the Winkelvoss twins. In “The Social Network,” even though the two were played by the same actor, they always felt like a double presence. Even if you couldn’t identify which was which, at every moment they seemed to have different weighting, like two distinctly different people. But with Bridget and Siobhan, they look and speak exactly the same. Their weights didn’t feel different. The only way to tell them apart is that Bridget wears her hair down (even when posing Siobhan) while Siobhan always wears her hair in a bun.

The bigger problem, though, seemed to be that Sarah Michelle Gellar didn’t seem quite at home in either role. I was a tad more convinced by her ice queen act as Siobhan, but even it felt a little shaky and unsure. She could take it a step farther, more akin to a grown-up version of Catherine in “Cruel Intentions.” Sarah Michelle as Bridget, though? I did not buy her performance for a second as a recovering alcoholic and former stripper who witnessed a mob murder and is being hunted down before she can testify. There was no sense of fear to her. Not to mention very little edge. I think for this character, Sarah Michelle needs to think a little more Faith and a little less Buffy.

Or maybe that’s the problem. They say it’s easier to believe an unknown in a television role because they can absorb into the character. Maybe the issue is that in both roles, I can only see Sarah Michelle Gellar and furthermore Buffy Summers.

And my last complaint about the show: I got really sick of hearing the name “Siobhan.” It’s not an everyday name and it was said, like, 100 times in the hour.

All this said, I will definitely give the show a few more episodes to pick up steam because pilots often feel a little awkward. But what do you think—are you into it?