One problem with using known actors in a role is that they carry with them certain baggage. This can be particularly troublesome with an actor who is very tied in the mind with a single part. The new CW series Ringer (apparently the first to launch this season… and really, this is about the only time of year that I notice that The CW exists) starts with a scene of Sarah Michelle Gellar running from a masked thug who is after her… and the mind cannot help but assume that at some point, she’s going to pull out a pointy wooden stick and stake the fiend. But this is not Buffy. Later in the tale, we get Nestor Carbonell, and we cannot trust that singularly good-lookin’ dude because we just know he’s part of a conspiracy, thanks to Lost.
The concept is one with possibilities. Gellar plays a woman on the run from both the law and criminals, who takes advantage of her twin sister’s apparent suicide to take her place in life… and there are intrigues in both the life she left and the life she’s taking over. I know if I had to step into a life I didn’t know very well and not let my ignorance show, I’d bollix it all up.
But pulling this off is going to take attention to detail… and this is someplace where the writers slip up so badly once that they lose a lot of trust in my eyes. Let’s wave a SPOILER ALERT flag here – if you’ve not yet seen the pilot (they’re running it twice more this week), you may want to skip the rest of the message. Late in the episode, the substitute sister gets a phone call intended for the real sister – it’s from her doctor, letting her know that yes, she’s indeed pregnant. Now, we’ll skip the part where this is several days after the apparent death of the real sister, pregnancy results seldom take that long. The fake sister gets this information, and in the next scene, the real sister’s husband and friends know that she is pregnant. Who told? Well, it wouldn’t be the doctor, as doctors have ethical and legal requirements, and folks who are only 4 weeks pregnant often want to keep that info quiet anyway. So it must’ve been… the fake sister. Which makes no farging sense because it’s not the fake sister who is pregnant, the pregnant woman is gone, so by telling people she’s pregnant she’s needlessly complicating her life. What’s she going to do, fake being pregnant in order to live up to the assumptions of people who didn’t know she was pregnant until she told them? The rest of the episode was straightforward, unamazing and occasionally cliche, but not actively bad. But boy, that moment hit with a thud. Not a must see, and I’d be wary of expecting it to survive…but then I see that The CW has an ad for the second season of their Nikita series, which I had no idea was still around. So a series may be able to survive quietly on this less visible network.
ADDED 9-15: Someone elsewhere pointed out that I missed a visual – something I do far too often with the oft-distracted way I watch TV these days – of the husband overhearing the call… voiding the point of most of this post. Sigh.