Screeners for the new fall TV shows have been rolling into Reel Life With Jane headquarters, and my family and I have been busily watching to see what's ahead. As is usually the case, some shows are godawful, some are mediocre, and some have us wishing we could jump right into the next episode.
To be fair, these are the raw pilots that often don't have the final music, titles and other details. Sometimes, even the actors get switched out, but as in the case of last year's $#*! My Dad Says, that doesn't always save the day. Not even Mr. Renaissance Man himself, William Shatner, could rescue that show.
But you can usually get a good feel for a show by watching the screener, and one that stands out for me this year is The CW's Ringer. Like millions of other Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, I've been anticipating the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to TV since she stood with her friends at the edge of the hollow ravine formerly known as Sunnydale. That was eight long years ago. So maybe The CW decided to take pity on us and offer not one but two characters played by the iconic Gellar.
In Ringer, she plays identical twins, each harboring her own secrets and mysteries. We're first introduced to Bridget Cafferty, the twin who's six months sober, goes to AA meetings, and has a checkered history with the law. She's trying to get her life back on track when -- wham! She witnesses a mob murder and gets called to testify in the case. At the first opportunity, she flees New York and reunites with her estranged twin, Siobhan Martin.
Siobhan is wealthy and spoiled, but don't let that fairy tale life fool you. She's got secrets, too, as we learn when she disappears overboard during a boating trip with her sister. Bridget makes the snap decision to take on her sister's identity, but might just as well have stuck with her own. Siobhan's marriage to Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) is in turmoil, and it turns out she's been having an affair with her best friend's husband.
As my daughter noted, it's weird seeing Gellar as someone other than Buffy. I would imagine having a show like that from the great Joss Whedon is both a blessing and a curse. Buffy was a magical, once-in-a-lifetime series like no other. But the flipside is that people will always see you as that character, no matter what else you do.
That's a pretty big package for Ringer to fill, and I'm not sure it's up to the challenge. I wonder if people will watch the show for Gellar, but fade away when it doesn't measure up to Buffy.
Sometimes it takes a few episodes for a show to find its groove. Even with the trademark dark hue of The CW and a plot that perhaps drags a teensy bit, Ringer is worth checking out -- especially if you're a fan of Gellar and/or Buffy. I only hope we get to see some of that kick-ass girl power along the way.