How to Fix ‘Ringer.’

I really wanted to like Ringer. It is, after all, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s big return to TV (a medium that suits her much better than the narrow spectrum of horror movies she’s starred in since Buffy went off the air in 2003). It’s also got Kristoffer Polaha, who I so liked in Life Unexpected, and Nestor Carbonell, he of Lost and the luscious lashes. It’s even got the potential to tell a compelling story, with its secrets and doppelgängers. Shows like Vampire Diaries and Battlestar Galactica have demonstrated just how much fun is to be had when you’ve got duplicates on the loose.

Unfortunately, Ringer hasn’t followed through on the promise of its cast or its premise. We’re four episodes in and neither Bridget nor Siobhan has developed much of a personality (outside of the occasional bit of watered-down snark from Bridget), the story is driven by events rather than the characters’ responses to those events, and Bridget is still fumbling her way through her sister’s life, relying on context clues and luck to get by undetected.

There are a few easy ways the show could improve, though:

1. Give Bridget an ally. Until the final moments of last week’s episode the only person who was in on her secret was her sponsor/maybe-boyfriend Malcolm. He doesn’t know any more about Siobhan’s life than Bridget does, he’s only accesible to her over the phone and he’s painfully boring. By letting someone from Siobhan’s life in on who she is Bridget will have access to inside information (no more of that awkward dialogue where Bridget gets just enough to get her to the other side of a conversation), as well as someone she can talk to. It will allow her to actually talk to someone, instead of talking around everything. Last week’s episode ended with Bridget confessing her identity to Gemma. We can only hope that Gemma will a) believe her and b) help her.

2. Address the pregnancy. Bridget is not pregnant and that’s something she can only hide for so long–not every TV husband is as gullible as Will Schuester. Admittedly she’s got a lot of secrets going at the moment, but this one has only been used as an excuse thus far. Addressing it head on would cut back my eye-rolling by half.

3. Expose a few secrets, to the audience at least. It seems like every character on this show is keeping at least a half dozen secrets from every other character. Bridget and Siobhan especially. The series has been using flashbacks since the pilot, but it has yet to take full advantage of the format–if they let out a little more of the twins’ backstory (for example, the identity of the little boy from the pilot) they might find a more invested audience. They shouldn’t give everything away, but letting go of bits of information over time will give the story a little momentum.

4. Give Siobhan something to do that goes beyond seducing American business men for nefarious purposes. Or at least tell us what her nefarious purposes are. When we only see her interacting with a man she’s using for his connection to her husband and making one-sided phone calls it’s hard to learn anything about her. We don’t know her motives or what she’s feeling–all we know is that she’s a decent actress. And because of that, we can’t even trust the Siobhan we see in flashbacks.

I hope tonight’s episode will show signs of improvement. They’re already on their way to accomplishing number 1. Fingers crossed that they follow through.

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