I Speak TV: ‘Ringer,’ NBC Comedies

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,


You know that moment in a lot of later-season Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes, where Sarah Michelle Gellar would get her serious face on and start brooding and you’d realize, “Oh, it’s going to be one of THOSE episodes again, is it?”

SMG trots that wide-eyed pout out a lot in the first half of Ringer. But by pilot’s end, the show has remembered that its premise is that Gellar plays twins, one of whom is on the run from the mob and, following the other’s apparent suicide, steps into her life, only to learn that THE DEAD ONE WAS THE EVIL TWIN…and that’s actually the smallest problem she has to deal with. 

It hasn’t hit full-on levels of camp pulpiness, but I can see it coming around the corner. By episode 4 this thing’s gonna hit on the ridiculousness that I was hoping for the moment I heard about it.

The only problem, of course, is the long-term prospects of a series where the premise is inherently limited unless the writers start going a little bit nuts – it’s that there’s no way this show doesn’t become fucking awful in season 2 (and this is the CW, where they’ve got a better than average shot at getting a second season).

Which isn’t to say that it couldn’t also turn awful in a week or two, but right now my fingers are crossed for fun-awful, not awful-awful.


Up All Night

There’s a really good, slice-of-life comedy in this show, where Will Arnett (nicely playing a non-GOB-ish character) and Christina Applegate – both comedic actors I like a lot and so am hoping for a win – reminisce over their carefree days (which were about 10 months ago) while trying to deal the little crazy person in their house known as an infant daughter. I really, really liked that show.

Then there’s the tacked-on (and apparently retooled to be this way) “workplace comedy” portion of the show where Applegate’s best friend and boss is, essentially, Oprah (or Mia Rudolph’s version of her). This is the exact opposite of a slice-of-life comedy, and instead plays like watered-down 30 Rock.

So for every moment of relatable comedy – Arnett in a grocery store pondering when they got so big and panicking because the only cheese he can find is “the fancy kind by the salads”; the new parents trying not to curse so much around the baby – there’s Mia/Oprah showing up, popping open champagne and telling stories about dates in helicopters.

Since this is a retooled pilot, I imagine future episodes will be able to strike a better balance, but this was a pretty schizophrenic half hour of TV.


Free Agents

Look, I’m happy Anthony Head’s getting work. But he’s basically playing a less out-there Reynholm (either of them) from The I.T. Crowd – or a more cartoonish George from Bored to Death – and either way, I’m kind of full up on borderline-insane, boozy, sex-crazed executives, thanks.

And then there’s Hank Azaria. Hank Azaria’s pecs terrify me. The idea that Chief Wiggum can, in real life, benchpress a golf cart completely throws me off my game.

Also this show is an unpleasant mix of middle-aged neuroses and junior-high sex-talk, in a world where apparently sexual harassment does not exist. No thanks.

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