Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I actually think you should try Ringer.

So, the much-ballyhooed Ringer premieres tonight on the CW. And I'm sort of torn about this one. On the one hand, I think Ryan McGee makes a lot of good points about the oft-blurred distinction between coverage and criticism, and the level of "OMG SMG! This is going to be awesome no matter what!" has been truly excessive.

But on the other hand, I actually liked the version of the pilot I saw! (No idea how much it has changed since then.) You might want to take my opinion with a grain of salt, because pretty much every critic I've read has disliked it, so I don't know what my issue was (and I'm not much of an SMG fangirl, so it's not that). Maybe it just struck me in the right mood. That's not to say I didn't see the issues that others have cited: there was tons of soapy plot crammed into one episode, the writing was clunky, the characters were pretty one-dimensional, and it took itself way too seriously. But, honestly? Those are points that can be made about many pilots that turned into thoroughly decent shows. As people have said many times, and Alan Sepinwall explained well yesterday, pilots are often the least representative episodes of shows.

Given all that, the main question I ask of pilots is whether they make me want to watch another episode. That's it. Real evaluation can come later. And this one did hook me enough that I want to see more. I love plots involving mysteries, family secrets, and troubled upper-class marriages, and this show has all of that in spades. The writing wasn't great, but there had to be a lot of exposition in the pilot, so I'm willing to give that a little time. It's full of actors whose work I like - Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kris Polaha, Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Carbonell, Mike Colter, and soon Jason Dohring - and while I agree with Ryan that blind following of anything a favorite actor does isn't really helpful, I will admit that a show having so many good actors makes me inclined to give it more of a chance, both because I trust them to make the most of the material they're given and because I simply enjoy watching them.

So . . . is Ringer any good? No idea. It's hard to tell from a pilot, and there's been so much hype, and now critical backlash to that hype, that the whole question is even more muddled than usual with this one. So is it worth watching the pilot? If the plot appeals to you (or, okay, you really like SMG), then I think it's worth investing that 42 minutes, because this isn't going to be a show that's easy to pick up in the middle. Not much else is on yet this week, so you probably have time. The show may turn out to be actually good. Or it may turn into enjoyable mindless entertainment, which I believe is a perfectly valid and sometimes necessary part of TV consumption. Or in a few weeks, you may decide your time is better spent with your Buffy or Veronica Mars DVDs. But if the show sounds interesting to you, be fair to both the show and yourself: ignore both the hype and the anti-hype and take the opportunity to make up your own mind. I mean, it's not like I'm telling you to watch Work It.

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