Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ringer Review: "Pilot"

I just watched the live airing of the Ringer pilot, and I don't think my opinion was substantially changed from what I thought when I saw the screener. Namely: This is not really a very good pilot, but there are hints of potential, so I'm willing to give it some time. For some more specific thoughts, click through...

First: No, they didn't fix that awful green screen you've heard so much about. I'm kind of shocked, but on the other hand, there aren't going to necessarily be a lot of boat scenes in the future, so maybe they're investing their money elsewhere. But seriously, it looked like that scene in High Society:

BUT ANYWAY. Let's move on from the awful effects. First, the bad: The writing was heavy-handed and clunky, and the pacing was bizarre - it was somehow really slow but also had way too much plot crammed into one episode. And it was NOT SUBTLE. Mirrors, mirrors everywhere! The characters were fairly wooden and often didn't really seem to be interacting, even when they were in scenes together.

And yet . . . there was still something I sort of liked. There were some moments when the characters suddenly became actual characters - when Andrew admitted he actually liked this new version of his wife, when Henry and Bridget discussed the pregnancy, when Bridget expressed real shock and concern at Juliet's drug issue, the very last scene with Siobhan - and those sparks could, in the right circumstances, grow into a decent show. Will this show be given the right circumstances? Who knows? It's not necessarily looking likely, but it's certainly not impossible. All the obvious issues listed above might or might not be symptoms of pilots-must-do-too-much-all-at-once syndrome. I mean, as CW pilots go, at least this one didn't have any of the guys who we're later supposed to find sympathetic try to rape anyone. (I'm looking at you, Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries.) I don't think there were any mistakes that the show can't come back from.

One sign in Ringer's favor: The cast is very strong, and I think they'll be able to rise to whatever material they're given. To be shallow for a moment: Boy, is Ioan Gruffudd hot. So is Kris Polaha, and Nestor Carbonell and Mike Colter aren't bad either. I guess I am saying that this is not hard to watch, from an aesthetic standpoint. But more importantly, we've seen in other things that the guys and SMG can all act, so I hope in an episode or two they'll get more comfortable with their characters and each other and make it feel either more real or more deliberately absurd. Either approach could work, as long as they all take the same approach.

If they do manage to improve those things, then what I'm actually worried about is the plot's long-term options. How long can they keep up the Bridget-as-Siobhan thing? Basically, How I Met Your Mother has me wary of open-ended shows that are based on one central mystery. The pregnancy part is especially suspect - dear Lord, please don't let this turn into a Glee-esque "fooling everyone for months" thing. Right now, things are open enough that there probably are plenty of places they could go with the plot, but only if they don't become too wedded in these opening episodes to the entire show being based on the identity switch.

But all of that is in some ways irrelevant to the basic question of whether I'll keep watching the show. Here's what it comes down to: after my second viewing, even more than my first, I'm finding myself wanting to find out what will happen next. So they've got me, at least for now.

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