It's been eight long years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer stopped slaying, and that show's fans have been jonesing to see its star Sarah Michelle Geller back on television. After several failed attempts to jumpstart a film career, Gellar returned to TV Tuesday in The CW's new nighttime soap opera, Ringer (which was originally passed over by CBS). In a tricky set of dual roles, she plays twins: Bridget, a stripper on the run after witnessing a murder, and Siobhan, a married socialite. Of course, each character is richly endowed with dark secrets. Was The CW wise to rescue Gellar's new show?
No. This is a "disappointing return" to TV for Gellar: Ringer doesn't exploit Gellar's talent (and wit) any more nimbly than the middling films she's starred in since Buffy ended, says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. While she gets to play two characters, unfortunately both are shallowly conceived and humorless. The series is "stiff and full, the characters thin, the situations laughable — even though it isn't trying to be campy fun."
"Review: CW's Ringer a disappointing return for Sarah Michelle Gellar"
Let's give Ringer a chance: With its shameless twin-swapping and secret lives, Ringer "is nearly all melodramatics," says Mike Hale at The New York Times, which gives the series an entertaining "throwback, B-movie vibe." This buffet of "empty calories" offers little sustenance, but "Ms. Gellar deserves our indulgence, at least for a few weeks."
"Daughters of Buffy come out, red in tooth and fingernails"
Hold on. Ringer is quite good: An embarrassment of riches, Ringer provides "two very good, well-defined Gellar performances," says Robert Bianco at USA Today. As the socialite, Gellar pulls off the "very essence of a chilly Hitchcock heroine," while there's a "warmth that seeps through" when she plays the stripper pretending to be the socialite — yes, that happens. The show's driving plot device, that socialite Siobhan's life is far less perfect than anyone thought, is similarly addictive.
"Ringer: Sarah Michelle Gellar times two"