Friday, March 18, 2011

Pilot Script Review - Ringer

Network: CBS
Written By: Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder
Draft Date: undated
Pages: 61

This must be the annual "not a typical CBS drama" CBS script.

So... are you shocked that I really liked it? Even though the first thing it made me think of was "I Know Who Killed Me" (the title, anyway, I didn't see the movie, and one wikipedia page later I was assured that Ringer and the Razzie-fied Lindsay Lohan trainwreck had little in common).

Ringer is a combination of things. It's a "be careful what you wish for" story. It's a case of mistaken identities (damn identical twins). It's upstairs/downstairs. It's part crime mystery and part family drama. It's structured as a "how did we get here" piece, with an opening moment to tease you just enough to let the story build a background before the shit starts hitting the fan (and then not getting to that teased opening until almost the final moments). There's even some twisty, intriguing gaslighting going on.

And, for about 8 pages in the first act, it's going to be Sarah Michelle Gellar playing off of herself, which I cannot wait to see. I try to not think about casting when I read these scripts, but when you have 8 pages of identical twins talking with / doing things with each other and no one else... well, you need a capable actor to pull it off.

We meet Bridget Cafferty, an ex-stripper/prostitute turned waitress, in an NA meeting in Wyoming.

Okay, technically we meet her as she's having her head bashed into the wall of a swanky Manhattan penthouse, but that's chronologically later.

While Bridget was stripping in a club owned by a Native American crime boss, Bodaway Macawi, she witnessed a murder and his trial depends on her testimony.

So, when Bridget disappears from her motel room the morning of the trial, apparently having beaten up the police officer guarding her, handcuffing him to the shower, and stealing his gun... things aren't looking good and the FBI agent involved with the Macawi case has to track her down. Macawi goes free after the case is declared a mistrial... and he wants to stay a free man, so of course he's going to do everything he can to silence Bridget.

Bridget goes to the Hamptons to be with her identical twin sister, Siobhan Marx, married to a wealthy Manhattanite, Andrew, who is away in London on business. Things are awkward at first, as the twins have been estranged for years to the point that Siobhan hasn't even told her husband that she has a twin sister (this, admittedly, is quite convenient). Siobhan has everything money can buy (including antidepressants)... but wouldn't you know it, she's not happy. No one's life is perfect.

Bridget, for her part, is scared and confused. Especially when she finds a bloody gun in her bags. And again when she falls asleep on Siobhan's speedboat out in the ocean and Siobhan seems to have drowned, leaving only "her signature Hermes scarf" floating on the water.

Bridget returns to shore and is mistaken by several people in Siobhan's life to actually be her twin sister. And, after a couple stumbling blocks... she decides to become Siobhan. Presented with a Hermes scarf and a life of luxury or a bloody gun that appeared in your bag... which would you choose?

But, remember, no one's life is perfect. Bridget is about to find out just how fucked up Siobhan's life is and that her twin sister wasn't exactly the best person in the world, and tries to fix some of these (admittedly "rich person") problems. For instance, Siobhan was cheating on her husband with the husband of her best friend. And that's really only the tip of the iceberg.

So, when she tells the masked man bashing her skull in that he has the wrong girl, "I'm not Bridget, asshole," and he replies, "Who the hell is Bridget?"

It's painstakingly clear that Bridget stepping into the wrong life.

The man was sent to kill Siobhan.

But Bridget can't back out now. The FBI has been tracking her down and even came by the Manhattan apartment to interview "Siobhan." So Bridget knows that the old deal she made to testify against Macawi is now off the table. She'd be headed to prison if she came clean.

There's another twist at the end that I won't spoil (and I've skipped by a heckuva lot of detail in Siobhan's life).

I, personally, really want to know what happens next. But, as I said above... there's not much about this script that screams "typical CBS drama." Here's hoping there's room on the schedule for something a little more outside the box.


Anonymous said...

I take the script is not public... say if I wanted to read it..

Anonymous said...

?? do you have the script?

It looks AWESOME, with Sarah Michelle Gellar I can't wait!

i really hope they will pick it up

Travis Yanan said...

Sorry, it's not public :(

charlene said...

It sounds amazing !!!!!!! I can't wait!

Spoiler Hater said...

You say the script isn't public, but you've publicly given away many spoiling details, beginning to end. For example, you say the beginning sets up a beating as a future event that returns at almost the very end of the script, then you describe the specific twist of that beating at the end of the script. If giving away enough details to destroy a script's chances at proper storytelling is how you handle a script you like, I'd hate to see how little respect you'd show for something you dislike. Giving away so much so deep in a script just seems disrespectful to the writer(s) and potential audience. I came to your site because I like SMG and wanted to read if the dialogue was maybe Whedonesque or if the tone of the show was more serialized or procedural. By saying it's not typical CBS, you excited me to watch the show if/when it airs. By going into detail after detail, you spoiled that. As someone who watches TV, you should know that watching a good show is always better than hearing some guy quickly retell the important scenes. I hope that you will engage more in respectful critique of scripts that aren't public, not just paraphrasing and exposing them - for all TV watchers' sakes.

Travis Yanan said...

Thank you for the critique, Spoiler Hater, but I won't be changing the style of my reviews. In fact, I have no standard style and no template for how much I spoil versus how much I don't and I certainly can't anticipate what any given reader might want or not want in a review.

Reviews are, by their nature, spoilery. If you don't wish to be spoiled... don't read advance reviews.

If and when Ringer comes to your television set (and I do hope it does), reviews from mainstream critics will, in all likelihood, spoiler much of the show for you in trying to give readers the basic groundwork of what the series is... and, I believe, they will spoil more than I have here.

I felt, in reviewing the story of the pilot, it was paramount to get back to the opening moment and explain what that particular hook - that Bridget has gone from the frying pan and into the fire. I left out a good deal of her journey. We in the storytelling trade often say "it's the journey, not the destination" and I hope you find that to be the case, again, if and when you have the opportunity to watch Ringer.

However, I can tell you that I did *not* spoil the final moments or twist of the pilot. That was conscious decision. And with that tantalizing piece of information, as I must believe you will not be returning to my blog for any further reviews of other scripts or the pilot screeners when I get them, I bid you adieu...

PS - All I mean by "not public" is that the script is not available at large, but is available within the entertainment community. I often get requests to send scripts and I've made it a policy not to "leak" scripts to anyone. Talking about what I've read, however, is an entirely different beast.

Spoiler Hater said...

I truly commend you for sticking to your guns. And if there are additional twists that you've chosen not to reveal, thank you. I looked around your site and saw that your treatment of Ringer appears to be your norm. If it works for you and your readers, I hope you and they continue to enjoy your sizable body of work. And if Ringer shows up on the fall schedule (and from your reviews of other pilot scripts, Ringer seems to be one of the better ones), I look forward to seeing the show as its storytelling creators intended. And I hope to be genuinely excited by parts you and other reviewers choose not to discuss in advance. Thank you for your time and response.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait for the show but do you think a buffy fan would like this??

DuMont said...

I like what I read, Travis Yanan, and not just because it stars Miss Sarah Michelle Gellar but because it looks to be such an intriguing concept for a series.

I do wish that CBS would go back to their 90-minute or 120-minute format telemovies that could serve as backdoor pilots. 'Ringer' would be a prime cnadidate for such a treatment, and it could be used as a two-parter or two hour launch if it goes to series, and if not, this would be a real treat to watch on a rainy Saturday evening with a big bowl of popcorn.

DuMont said...


I looked up producer data on 'Ringer', and it looks to be an ABC/CBS co-pro, which disappoints as I was hoping it might have a Warner foot in the door, and then I could hope for it landing at The New CW on the inevitable CBS rebound when it doesn't stick to their 2011-12 sked magnetic boards.

Very, very pleased to see that the exceptional British movie actor Mr. Ioan Gruffudd is attached to this project in the Andrew Marx role.

Oh, I do hope this gets picked up to series.