The CW—being the young, impatient network that it is—looks like it’s going to be the first to get its new fall season off the starting blocks. The first and best of the four shows debuting this month from CW is the much-anticipated Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle “Ringer.” Gellar built up a lot of good will and a major fan base thanks to the seven seasons she spent on The WB (not to be confused with The CW) network’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Though “Ringer” isn’t quite in the supernatural-
In “Ringer,” Gellar plays against her spunky, girl-next-door type as troubled, drug-addicted stripper Bridget Kelly. When we meet her, Bridget is trying to clean up her act, going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and getting her life in order—although that’s mostly a byproduct of having been swept up by the FBI and hidden away in the witness relocation program. Seems bad girl Bridget is the only witness in the government’s case against an evil Indian casino kingpin. Bridget saw him murder someone, and now she has to testify against him in court. But she’s having second thoughts. Mostly because this scowling villain has a habit of murdering people who betray him. Convinced she’s going to be bumped off before the trial can begin, Bridget ditches out on her FBI handler (Nestor Carbonell, fresh off “Lost”) and heads out on the lam.
Bridget’s instincts take her to a fancy-dancy New York penthouse where her estranged, rich-bitch twin sister Siobhan (Gellar as well) lives. (One’s a drug-addicted Montana stripper, one’s a rich Manhattan housewife—wasn’t that the plot to “The Patty Duke Show”?) The reunion between sisters is a rocky one, at least until Siobhan commits suicide (under notably hinky circumstances, it must be noted)—at which point things get really bad. With no other choice (really?), Bridget assumes Siobhan’s identity.
Suddenly, she’s living a fairy tale. She’s got a multimillion-dollar apartment, a handsome husband (Ioan Gruffudd from Fantastic Four) and a life of ease. Except, this fairy tale comes to an end mighty abruptly. Turns out Siobhan and her husband aren’t sleeping together. And she’s having an affair with her best friend’s husband. And from the looks of it, there are way more people trying to kill Siobhan than Bridget. Which kinda begs the question: Why is she sticking around here?
Oh well, best not to concern yourself with fine details like that. Paired up with the rebooted “90210” as a lead-in, “Ringer” makes for fine, soapy viewing. The tone isn’t afraid to go over-the-top, the actors aren’t afraid to have fun with their trashy roles and the story isn’t afraid to throw in the occasional neck-snapping surprise twist. With the premiere episode, the show hints at the same sort of winking self-knowledge as ABC’s underrated, two-season, satirical soap opera “Dirty Sexy Money.” Here’s hoping “Ringer” can continue to pile on the crazy, the sexy and the cool.