(Mild SPOILERS for Buffy and Ringer.)
It isn’t Ringer’s fault that it’s not Buffy The Vampire Slayer. However, it is totally Ringer’s fault that the writing for its pilot is weak and humorless and the heroine spends an inordinate amount of time staring symbolically into mirrors. Sarah Michelle Gellar does her level best to make it all work, but the pilot simply doesn’t play to her strengths as an actress. Ringer looks like Buffy in that they both feature Sarah Michelle Gellar solving mysteries on some version of the CW. This fact makes it feel to a Buffy fan like Ringer is Buffy’s impostor twin, even if that isn’t fair in any logical way. To a Buffy diehard, Ringer seems like the Buffybot mechanically patrolling Sunnydale until the real Slayer comes back. Ringer is the alcoholic stripper from Wisconsin sitting in Buffy’s sophisticated Manhattan apartment like it belongs there.
Therefore, I spent the whole episode waiting for Buffy to rise again, burst in, and claim its rightful home. There were a few moments when I thought it might happen:
- That establishing shot of the gargoyle. Graveyard much? And if there isn’t a demon trapped inside that thing, then what is it even doing there?
- She makes a weird double entendre about cookies. I seem to recall a certain labored cookie simile . . . WAIT. But these are fully formed cookies. So the cookie dough is done baking? So she can be with Angel?!
- The long-coat-sporting, black-clad, spiky-haired young gentleman watching her longingly from the street. ANGEL IT’S ANGEL HE’S BACK AND HE LOVES HER SO MUCH OH MY GOD, oh, it’s the quirky friend’s husband. Whatever.
- She says that she wants everything to be “normal again”. “Normal Again”, you say? So alternate-universe-mental-hospital Buffy is dreaming all of this? And the drugs have over time broken down her ability to craft witty dialogue for her alternate life?
- Someone who looks like her but has less of a sense of humor lies to her a lot. I’m actually not totally convinced Siobhan is not the First. Yes, it looked like they hugged, but the camera angle was so weird that anything could have happened. She could have just teleported herself off of that speedboat.
- She’s nervous about her poorly hidden gun all the time. “These things? Never good.”
- She manages to overpower a menacing assassin who is trying to kill someone else who looks like her. If that’s not a time to say “That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!”, I don’t know what is.
What did you think of the Ringer pilot? Could you separate the show from Buffy in your mind and be objective or were you thinking about vampires the whole time? Do you know anyone who has a giant picture of their own face in their apartment? Rev up the engine on your extremely fake speedboat and let me know in the comments!