The broadcast networks have more than 30 shows debuting this fall, including Steven Spielberg’s dino-mite Terra Nova, J.J. Abrams’ Person of Interest, and a U.S. adaptation of the UK’s Prime Suspect. To help you prep for fall, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots. Next on our list is…
THE SHOW | The CW’s Ringer (Tuesdays at 9/8c, premiering September 13)
THE COMPETITION | NCIS: LA (CBS), Dancing with the Stars results show (ABC), The Biggest Loser (NBC) and the Fox comedies Raising Hope/New Girl.
THE CAST | Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four), Kristoffer Polaha (Life Unexpected), Nestor Carbonell (Lost) and Tara Summers (Boston Legal)
THE SET-UP | Gellar stars as Bridget, a six months sober ex-stripper who is in the FBI’s protective custody until she can testify against Bodaway Macawi, a Native American crime boss with one of TV’s best names ever. Instead, fidgety Bridget escapes to NYC to visit her estranged twin, Siobhan. When sis goes missing, Bridget seizes the chance to co-opt her kin’s life as a means to evade her adversaries — unaware that Siobhan has her own foes. Carbonell plays Bridget’s FBI handler, while Gruffudd, Polaha and Summers are Siobhan’s husband, lover and BFF, respectively.
THE GOOD | Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for doppelganger tales — dating back to Star Trek (“The Enemy Within,” “Mirror, Mirror”) and continuing right on up through Fringe — so Ringer was playing to a receptive audience. But beyond that, the show has legitimate merit, starting with the fact that it is quite probably the most adult piece of programming in The CW’s history. I mean, save for Siobhan’s rebellious stepbrat, there’s not a ‘tween, teen or twentysomething to be seen. The set-up is sound, with some loose ends addressed (Siobhan kept her twin a secret, so no one in her life has reason to suspect a switcheroo is afoot) and nice details sprinkled in (Bridget’s sis apparently had a few pounds on her). Tackling multiple roles, Gellar does a fine job as in-too-deep Bridget, icy Siobhan, and Bridget-as-Siobhan, and the supporting cast presents no weak link. And while the trailers seem to give away the biggest twist (in the form of a piece of dialogue that’s conspicuously missing from the actual pilot), I for one was caught off guard by one jawdropper that throws Bridget’s plan a curve ball.
THE… COULD-BE-BETTER | Nothing jumps out at me as being terribly problematic, though Carbonell’s character — if worthy of his G-man badge — would be wise to someday soon put two and two together, with regards to his AWOL witness and the identical twin sister he just met. Also, Bridget’s emotional touchstone/possible beau/lone confidante — AA sponsor Malcolm (The Good Wife‘s Mike Colter) — is all the way back home. Hopefully he’ll get pulled closer to the action, even if Siobhan’s dance card is already very full.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | One could look at Ringer‘s biggest competition — NCIS: LA and DWTS — and utter, “Yikes.” But the fact is that even when you add in (the waning) Biggest Loser and Fox’s comedies, this is aimed squarely at a very different audience. Let’s hope that those who appreciate tightly wound, borderline-psychological drama find it and stick with it.
Watch a video preview for Ringer, then vote in our poll below.