TV are what movies once was, so I hear. Today’s Godfather Parts I and II is The Wire. Today’s Cleopatra is Game Of Thrones. Today’s Susan Hayward is Edie Falco. So it’s high past time to take this blog hard to the hoop by analyzing a TV show as it develops.
As Ned Flanders said about Impy and Chimpy, I can honestly say that the series premiere of Ringer is the best episode of TV starring Sarah Michelle Gellar I’ve ever seen. Since the end of Seinfeld every fictional TV show I regularly watch has been animated. And if that hasn’t convinced you to become part of this weblog’s far-flung following, let me enlighten you with a typical grain of insight: Since every meta-media entity has reviewed the premiere, the best thing for me to do is give it only cursory attention, because who cares what I have to say. But as all rational observers lose interest in the show, one only has to give the show a bare minimum of attention to distinguish oneself from the typical critic who for whatever reason of personal self-aggrandizement feels it necessary to watch more than one TV show and therefore falls behind on his Ringer watching.
Can I keep it up? No. I didn’t even get this post up until two hours after the end of the second episode. But there’s a chance. And by not caring enough to look for spoilers or in any way be savvy in my expectations, I hope to replicate the experience of the half-awake viewer who forgets what he’s seen an hour later.
The premiere of Ringer has inspired more disdain than acclaim, mostly or entirely because of the terrible green-screen effects in the scene on the boat. I ask you, is this fair? I didn’t even notice its terribility. Was this the effect of haughty critics having watched a preliminary version of the pilot, or is it that I’m just impressed if a TV show’s green-screen effects are better than those in The Muppet Show or the rock-climbing episode of Seinfeld?
The boat scene is very short anyway. The part of the show containing Siobhan, the rich twin, is too short in general. She dies a third of the way through the first episode? I cannot believe this is all we’ll see of her. Later in the series we’re going to either see extended flashback sequences, or find out Siobhan isn’t really dead, or both. Can Gellar play a double role if one of her characters is dead? Yes, she is playing two roles in that she is playing the role of one character who is playing the role of another character. That’s enough to be interesting. But is that all we’ll see her do? And will it really be interesting?
Ioan Gruffudd plays Siobhan’s husband Andrew, a man with an English accent. This was the most heartening part of the episode, though since this is just a pilot it could turn out that he’s American in all subsequent episodes. Gruffudd’s character seems like an asshole. Is he really an asshole, or is he acting this way because Siobhan is such a bitch? Was Siobhan really a bitch, or did Gruffudd drive her to it by being such an asshole? The actor has been very good at keeping this ambiguous so far. We’ll find out. And hopefully we’ll find out indirectly through watching how people react to Bridget’s Siobhan impersonation, instead of having the answers foisted on us.
Tara Summers plays a woman with an American accent. Tara Summers is an English actress, and her character’s name (“Gemma”) is about 50,000% more common among Englishwomen than Americans. And she’s an interior decorator working in New York. Why isn’t Gemma British? Come on. This character is fun, but the writers and the actress team up to make her seem like an utter moron for failing to detect anything amiss in Bridget’s Siobhan impersonation. Bridget comes over to see how well the redecoration is going. Bridget expresses no interest in the redecoration. The exchange that follows is something like: Gemma: “Come on, you love this stuff!” Bridget:“Oh, yeah, I do! That… thing is really nice.” And so on and so forth.
Kristoffer Polaha plays Gemma’s husband Henry. He’s supposed to be some creative type but he seems like the same sort of overstressed MBA possessor that Ioan Gruffudd is playing. Henry and Siobhan are having an affair, and yet Henry doesn’t even seen more thrill-seeking than Andrew, let alone more interesting, let alone more romantic. If they did retool the show before episode 2, the best thing they could have done would be to start dressing Henry up like one of the Brothers Bloom, since he already looks like Mark Ruffalo. Or like one of the guys from LMFAO. Anything to make it plausible that he’s a self-loathing writer who gets away with being petulant because of his creative temperament, instead of what he seems like now, a guy who got fired for spending too much time at the gym and not enough time at the brokerage and now is trying to start a new brand of vitamin water.
There’s also a character named Bridget, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in a perfectly protagonistic performance. She’s surprised and slightly distressed by everything that happens. Her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor and her FBI handler both just want to know what’s going on with her, and they just want to help her, but they just don’t understand the details, and she just has to make it on her own.
She also has a stepdaughter. I mean Siobhan has a stepdaughter, who hates her of course, and seems to hate her father. Another ambiguity presents itself: is Ioan Gruffudd’s character an asshole because his daughter is such a bitch? Does the causation run contrariwise? The resolution of this question proves to be uninteresting since their relationship is cliched from the start. Guess what, she’s just been kicked out of boarding school. Also she’s incredibly skinny. And slutty. Is this because her stepmother is an ice queen? Has Siobhan intensified her ice queenery because her stepdaughter is such a slut? Will Bridget bond with the stepdaughter, a fellow reprobate in whom she may even confide her true identity? All this and more as Ringer douses us with cascades of drama over the coming weeks, months and years.
What did you think? Did you watch it? You didn’t watch it, did you. Good lord, who are you anyway? Why are you reading this?
Stay tuned for more Ringerblogging. In the next instalment, we’ll mention some of the plot. The first episode has enough plot for 3/4 of a two-hour movie, so it would be impossible to recap it while having any pretense of being cursory.