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2011 Fall Television Season - Week 1 - Pilot Reviews Part 2 - The CW

Hey again! As promised, here is the second half of my review of Week 1. This time, I take a look at two new shows gracing the air on the CW. These would, of course, be the highly anticipated Ringer and the probably highly anticipated but mostly just a Vampire Diaries Clone, The Secret Circle. One of them was surprisingly fun, while the other was absolutely horrible. Without further ado, here are my rambly and strong opinions.

The Secret Circle: It bothers me that TSC was probably the most compelling new show to air last week. In fact, it's probably going to be better than many of the new shows airing this fall. Let me preface this paragraph by saying that I have nothing against TSC or CW dramas in general. What bothers me about this show being so decent is that the network made a very safe creative decision. TSC will likely become its own show in time, but for now, it feels a LOT like TVD. They've even got the same producer and author involved. The network meeting probably went something like "Hey, let's do another supernatural teen drama with ridiculously attractive people, but kind of different. That way, we can get slightly lower and yet relatively acceptable ratings. Huzzah for art!"

Alright, enough me griping about the purity of the art form. TSC doesn't deserve my ire. It actually did a pretty good job of keeping my interest.

Things I Enjoyed:

1. The music. It feels very much like TVD with it's well-composed instrumental stuff merging seamlessly with soft rock, but it also has something that TVD doesn't have. The "theme song" is a short melody lalalaed by what sounds like a very creepy young child. I was a little off put by this at first, but then I realised that it was basically the main character's leitmotif. It was woven into touching moments, suspenseful moments, creepy moments, and casual moments without any hint of awkwardness. I'm sold on the music based on that alone.

2. The story. This is a show that will probably develop a very interesting mythology, not unlike TVD, but more than that, it's a show about 12 distinct people. 6 children from 6 families, plus their 6 remaining single parents (or grandparents as the case may be) will be at the centre of any and all magical developments. The relationships that exist between the previous generation will no doubt be full of potential twists and secret reveals, while I look forward to seeing the six teens do their whole teen drama thing.

Verdict: I'm in for the season. It's pretty mind numbing fun and doesn't do anything particularly new or exciting, but if it can keep up the same breakneck pacing we have all come to know and love on TVD, it has the potential to become an even better show than TVD. While it certainly doesn't have actors in the same league as Ian Somerhalder, the plot interests me more. As long as we don't get vampires, werewolves, and all of that other supernatural stuff, I'm happy with people being people. And witches. On the scale of "The CW Probably Doesn't Hire Ugly People" to "Man These Actors Are Hot", I'm going to give this show a "Weirdly Compelling".

Ringer: When I first heard about this pilot, I was immediately put off by its premise. It sounded way too ridiculous to be something I should take seriously. I was honestly hoping that it was going to be a satire. It was only when casting news started seeping out that I paid Ringer even the slightest bit of attention. I do love me some Sarah Michelle Gellar (more specifically, SMG spouting lines written by Joss Whedon), but again, this premise seemed way too serious business for her to be able to show off her comedic chops. Still, it got so much online buzz that I just had to check it out. Add to that some LOST nostalgia in the form of Nestor Carbonell, along with my Boston Legal celebrity crush in the form of the awkwardly adorable Tara Summers and I was in.

Unfortunately, most of my hopes and dreams were dashed by several major recurring issues.

1. Ringer is terribly written. A few scenes popped out as excellent, but most of the show was silly, or else really heavy-handed in the laying out of the suspense. And the drug problems. And the marital problems. And the conspiracies. And the general seriousness. If this show is going to be any good, it's going to have to embrace a wacky sense of humour really quickly. Or else find some other way to drag itself out of the TAKE MY PREMISE SERIOUSLY gutter and get on with itself.

2. The music composed for the show was beyond bad. It wasn't your average slow-building horror music... It was SUDDEN IN YOUR FACE YOU MUST FEEL SUSPENSE music. Add to that its attempts to merge not so seamlessly with the occasional bout of soft rock and I had a medium-sized headache by the end of the episode. I don't know how much editing the CW did to the pilot after it was made for CBS, but I would imagine that the Supernatural composer from Season 6 has found a new job. I like the style chosen, involving the simple piano melodies played above some strings, but the composer needs to drop the melodrama.

3. Ringer has a very low budget, especially for a pilot. I hope it somehow looks nicer in the coming weeks? Or that they just avoid special effects all together? Re-watch that boat scene. 'Nuff said.


5. There were 3 love interests. Maybe 4 if you count the FBI Agent. That seems a little much.

6. Tara Summers no longer has a British accent. She was my celebrity crush because she came across as sweet, intelligent, BUT MOSTLY BECAUSE SHE HAD AN ACCENT. Now, she's just a white middle class American socialite with way too much money and way too many first world problems. I mean, really? Her husband is cheating on her with her best friend? Clearly this woman has very good taste in human beings.

Glimmers of hope:

1. When SMG wasn't trying to slog through some pretty dreadful dialogue or take her reflection very seriously, she did a great job. She has acting chops strong enough to portray twins effectively to the point that they do seem like different people. Then again, Siobhan's cold detachment was a little too arch for my taste. It's almost like she's taking a page out of the January Jones school of acting like a frigid bitch onscreen.

2. Nestor Carbonel was hardly featured, but he did a very fine job of portraying an FBI agent. I look forward to seeing more of him. And the British guy.

Verdict: I'm pretty much out. I mean, knowing me, I'll probably watch a couple more episodes out of an apologist's sense of loyalty to SMG, but, if something needs to be dropped this season, Ringer goes first. On the scale of "Holy Not So Subtle Metaphors Batman" to "MIRRORS ARE SO MUCH FUN WEEEEE" I'm going to have to give this pilot a "When I Was A Child I Once Got Lost In A Fun House And The Mirrors Made Me Cry".

That's all for Week 1!

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