Sarah Michelle Gellar Gets Back in the Ring

It’s a little bit mind boggling to realize that Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s been off the air longer than it was on. I’m in the camp that thought Sarah Michelle Gellar would never do another series because Buffy was a long, hard run – almost all of her 20s. Even though I drifted in and out of Buffy later in its run, I still defend it as a TV game-changer. Just look at the current CW roster. So, as much as it’s a surprise that Gellar is back on TV, it’s less surprising to find her back at home on the CW, headlining Ringer, eight years after Buffy signed off. Ringer is a little more Gossip Girl and less Girl Savior, but it works for what it is, and in it, Gellar looks her age, like she went off and had a life and came back on her terms. I LOVE that.

In Ringer, Gellar plays twins Siobhan and Bridget — two sides of the same coin with more in common than they anticipated. Bridget is in the Midwest, trying to start over; making amends in the larger scheme as a recovering addict, former stripper, and almost federal witness until cold feet send her to Siobhan, who is in East Hampton faltering at the moneyed charade she’s built for herself. After a brief reunion (shot very keenly with a series of mirrors) and a daytime jaunt out onto the water (less keenly shot against blue screen with a comical echo), Siobhan slips Bridget a mickey and disappears.

In a fairly quick-witted decision, Bridget just decides to become Siobhan. Somehow she gets herself back to Manhattan and Siobhan’s husband, Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd), with whom Siobhan seems to have a semi-platonic, almost-civil agreement, her BFF, Gemma (Tara Summers), and her BFF’s husband, Henry (Kris Polaha), who also happens to be her lover (complicated!). Appropriately overwhelmed, Bridget tearily calls her NA sponsor, Malcolm (Mike Colter) and confesses what she’s done but refuses to come home. This puts the poor sap in the crosshairs of the felon Bridget was going to testify against.

Then Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell), the Feeb who had been protecting Bridget, shows up in Siobhan’s foyer looking for Bridget and Bridget-as-Siobhan has to defend Bridget’s reputation. Next we find out that Siobhan was pregnant, so Bridget’s off the hook for having to deflect the many cocktails directed at her, and she can use the baby to deny her stepdaughter, Juliet, a place to live when it turns out the girl has been bounced from boarding school for cocaine. Also in the mix is a picture that Bridget finds of Siobhan with a young boy named Sean who would be a pre-teen now (and my sense is that the child is actually Bridget’s).

The setup comes to a head at the renovated penthouse Siobhan’s BFF is working on for her, where Bridget is confronted by a masked man who she thinks is after her and whom she shoots in self-defense, only to find out Siobhan was the intended target. Across the Atlantic in Paris, a phone rings and an alive-and-well-and-frosty Siobhan smokes and listens as the male voice on the other end of the line tells her they have a problem. Oh, the drama! So, Siobhan set up Bridget from the get go. Bad twin. Bad!

Let me fully disclose that I’m not generally a soap girl. I grew up on variable doses of Dallas, Dynasty, and Knots Landing, and this has elements of that and also a little bit of Desperate Housewives in the tangent of People with Money Who Do Bad Things. It’s an acquired taste, and folks looking for a Buffy- or Nikita-like experience will need to alter their expectations.

It’s a bit hard to judge a show like this on the basis of a pilot, especially when the promos have already done the big reveal for you. The pilot has the task of throwing all the balls in the air. The season will be about Bridget learning to juggle or failing miserably. I can see why this ended up on The CW instead of CBS – there’s no place for something that’s not in essence a procedural on the latter network. I’ll be curious to see how it does since it definitely skews older than Gossip Girl and 90210 but makes a fine companion to them for folks who like their whodunits with a little bit of soap and cheese.

As for Gellar, in addition to working with all the pretty boys and wearing all the pretty clothes, she is working her ass off – onscreen in almost every scene and behind the scenes as one of the producers, so show her some love, y’all.

Ringer airs on The CW in the US at 9pm ET on Tuesdays, and on Global in Canada at 10pm ET on Fridays.

Photo Courtesy of The CW

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