Homepage > Joss Whedon Cast > Sarah Michelle Gellar > Reviews > Sarah Michelle Gellar - "Ringer" Tv Series - Nytimes.com Review
Sarah Michelle GellarSarah Michelle Gellar - "Ringer" Tv Series - Nytimes.com Review
Wednesday 14 September 2011, by Webmaster
Daughters of ‘Buffy’ Come Out, Red in Tooth and Fingernails
The new television season arrives this week with a pair of premieres on the CW network, coming in on little catfight feet.
Young woman’s inhumanity to young woman is an evergreen theme at CW, where attention is focused firmly on the 18-to-34 female demographic. “Ringer,” on Tuesday night, stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as twins: Bridget, a former addict and stripper being chased by a killer, and Siobhan, a New York and Hamptons society wife. When Siobhan disappears, Bridget takes her place, but she discovers that the dream life comes with nasty complications, like an affair with her (sister’s) best friend’s husband.
In “The Secret Circle” on Thursday, the teenage Cassie (Britt Robertson) is the new girl in a kind of junior varsity coven who discovers that she now has high school rivals who can summon thunderstorms or set her car on fire.
The CW network DNA runs deep in these shows. “Ringer” is Ms. Gellar’s first TV series since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” still the best show in the network’s checkered history. (It appeared on both WB and UPN, which merged to form CW.) One of the executive producers of “The Secret Circle” is Kevin Williamson, a CW network mainstay (“The Vampire Diaries,” “Dawson’s Creek”), while Ms. Robertson most recently starred in another of the network’s shows, “Life Unexpected.”
It’s “The Secret Circle” that sticks most closely to CW formulas, with the result that a lot of what we see and hear in the first episode feels like outtakes. Pretty young characters in a picturesque location (British Columbia standing in for Washington State), coming of age to a pop soundtrack; dead or vanished parents; latent paranormal abilities; local hangout; small-town secrets — it’s the entire supernatural teenage soap opera template, but the execution is rushed and chintzy, without the languorous gloss that makes “The Vampire Diaries” worthwhile.
(Fans of the network’s demon-slaying dramedy “Supernatural,” meanwhile, may be taken aback to see a key element of that show’s pilot replicated in the opening scene of “The Secret Circle.”)
The script does wring some laughs from the playing out of teenage anxieties in horror movie terms, the strategy pioneered by Joss Whedon and Ms. Gellar in “Buffy.” After a young warlock (Thomas Dekker of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) shows Cassie how to harness her powers, his furious girlfriend asks, “You did magic with her?”
Ms. Robertson has an appealing gravity, but she appears less comfortable with the melodramatics of “The Secret Circle” than she was with the wry comedy of “Life Unexpected.” Viewers of slightly older vintage may enjoy the presence of Natasha Henstridge and Gale Harold as parents with the inevitable dark secrets.
“Ringer” is nearly all melodramatics, but the pilot has a throwback, B-movie vibe that’s entertaining — empty calories but with a little kick. (Presumably the title’s echo of David Cronenberg’s creepy twin-gynecologists thriller “Dead Ringers” isn’t accidental.) When the filmmakers shoot scenes in which the sisters appear together, using computer trickery or sunglass-wearing stand-ins, they have some fun, at one point juxtaposing the two Ms. Gellars in a hall of mirrors, like Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles in “The Lady From Shanghai.” Aerial shots of a cat-and-mouse pursuit in the American Museum of Natural History pay homage to “North by Northwest.”
Ms. Gellar’s new show is at least nominally realistic, but a recurring and humorous shot of her standing next to a set of oversize stone gargoyles nods to her earlier career as a vampire slayer, and she brings the same matter-of-fact soulfulness to the mystery story of “Ringer” that she did to the Gothic romance of “Buffy.” And she still has those sad, hollow eyes, which play into a running joke in which the recently sober Bridget, standing in for the prosperous Siobhan, is repeatedly praised for losing weight.
“Ringer” isn’t quite like anything else on CW — it’s closer to the summer-filler series “The Lying Game” on ABC Family or the new nighttime soap “Revenge” on ABC — and its glimmers of humor and the quirky ways it works the specter of Bridget’s addiction into the plot make it worth keeping an eye on.
Elaborating on the twin-sisters-in-peril premise without descending into camp may prove to be too much of a challenge for the producers, but Ms. Gellar deserves our indulgence, at least for a few weeks.
CW, Tuesday nights at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.
Produced by CBS Television Studios and Warner Brothers Television in association with ABC Television Studios and Brillstein Entertainment. Created by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder; Pam Veasey, Peter Traugott and Richard Shepard, executive producers; Mr. Charmelo, Ms. Snyder and Sarah Michelle Gellar, co-executive producers.
WITH: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin), Ioan Gruffudd (Andrew Martin), Kristoffer Polaha (Henry Butler), Nestor Carbonell (Victor Machado), Tara Summers (Gemma Butler) and Mike Colter (Malcolm Ward).
THE SECRET CIRCLE
CW, Thursday nights at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.
Produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Brothers Television and CBS Television Studios. Created by Andrew Miller; Kevin Williamson, Mr. Miller, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo, Elizabeth Craft (pilot only) and Sarah Fain (pilot only), executive producers.
WITH: Britt Robertson (Cassie Blake), Thomas Dekker (Adam Conant), Gale Harold (Charles Meade), Phoebe Tonkin (Faye Chamberlain), Shelley Hennig (Diana Meade), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Melissa), Ashley Crow (Jane Blake), Louis Hunter (Nick Armstrong) and Natasha Henstridge (Dawn Chamberlain).