Sunday, October 23, 2011

TV: What Lies Beneath

On the most recent episode of Ringer, Siobhan's husband Andrew asked Siobhan about their friend Gemma,"You wouldn't have any idea what she'd want to talk to me about?" Siobhan -- who's really Bridget (both are played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) -- replied, "Not a clue." Thank goodness SMG was lying because she's the star and producer of the new CW show and if she couldn't follow the twists and turns, no one could.


The Tuesday night show (which airs two back-to-back repeats this Tuesday, in case you need to catch up) revolves around Bridget who was set to testify against a mobster who runs a strip-joint, sells drugs and kills people. Bridget had protection but didn't think it was enough to keep her safe so, day of her testimony, she knocks out the man watching her and splits. She quickly meets up with her identical twin sister Siobhan in what the CW is calling a neo-noir but plays to us like one of those old Saturday serials with one cliff hanger after another.

As The Patty Duke Show long ago taught TV viewers, when one actress plays two roles, the characters are "different as night and day." So while Bridget's been a stripper and drugs -- not hot dogs -- make her lose control, Siobhan appears to have the perfect upper class, NYC socialite life. But heavens to Cathy Lane, Siobhan's life is actually as dark as Bridget's, possibly darker since Bridget's largely a victim of circumstance and Siobhan tends to victimize others.

The two go all Bette Davis Dead Ringer with a tense reunion on a boat which mainly consists of Bridget gushing and Siobhan smiling stiffly. Then, apparently exhausted from her emotional eruptions, Bridget nods off and when she awakes, on the boat, in the middle of the ocean, there's no Siobhan. She concludes Siobhan has taken her own life. On the run from both organized crime and the feds, Bridget figures what-the-hell and decides to pose as Siobhan.

The only one who knows the truth is Bridget's NA sponsor Malcolm (played by the under-utilized Mike Coulter). While Bridget decides to pursue a new identity, Malcolm's abducted, tortured and finally drugged by mobster Bodaway Macawi and his henchmen. As Malcolm's getting hooked on the drug he kicked, Bridget's easily blending into Siobhan's life. Andrew not only thinks she's his wife, he also believes she's pregnant. Best friend Gemma doesn't bat an eye. Lover Henry sees nothing different. Even her step-daughter doesn't notice any significant change which begs the question of whether Bridget's really that talented or if Siobhan was so unlikable that most people avoided her as much as possible?

It's a complicated show. You may, like us, be wondering how long Bridget can pull off the fake pregnancy? But there's so much more going on. Someone's trying to kill Siobhan. In fact, one hit man's already been killed and Bridget's hidden the body in a loft only to have it disappear. But maybe they're not trying to kill Siobhan, maybe they know the truth and they're trying trying to kill Bridget.

Who could know the truth?

Gemma did. When Gemma found out that Siobhan and her husband Henry had slept together, she confronted Bridget who then demonstrated Siobhan got all the brains in the family.

A woman is enraged that her husband has had an affair and there's Bridget deciding the thing to do is tell this angry woman that, yes, Siobhan had an affair with Henry but she's not Siobhan, she's Bridget pretending to be Siobhan. As if that makes everything alright? Did Bridget mistake raw hatred for a round of Truth or Dare? The scene would have played better if Bridget had been zonked out on drugs, that might have allowed for her thinking that my-sister-slept-with-your-husband-but-I'm-not-her-and-I-only-made-a-fool-of-you-by-pretending-to-be-your-best-friend-so-everything's-cool was the way to go. As Gemma turned around and attempted to blackmail her into sleeping with Henry (so Gemma could catch him and the pre-nup would kick in preventing him from getting a cent or custody of their child), it was rather obvious that Bridget should have just bit the bullet and said, "Yes, I, Siobhan, slept with your husband. I'm sorry but I did."

The blackmail scheme somehow ended with Gemma apparently dead.

Apparently because no body's been found. That is an important point because, see, dead Siobhan? She's alive. She's in Paris. Planning to take control of a large portion of Andrew's money. And she's not real pleased that her sister is impersonating her or that she's withdrawn some money Siobhan had hidden in a secret bank account. Siobhan planned her death and planned it in great detail. This was no accident and there are glimmers of ruthlessness as she attempts to grift her way through Paris always with one eye on what her husband's company is doing.

With it's shifting realities, continuing elements and, most of all, a sure-footed and often surprising performance by SMG, Ringer is addictive but every addiction comes with a nasty morning after. On Ringer, that's Nestor Carbonell as FBI agent Victor. Victor was working with Bridget to get her to testify. When she disappears, he goes to New York where Siobhan lives and asks a lot of questions and enters her various homes without her permission and tails her and does so many things that will have you wondering: Where's his supervisor?

Seems to us if a witness bolts you don't spend forever looking for them. You realize that, even if you find them, chances are they won't testify as you'd like and so you move on to another case. When Lt. Philip Gerard pursued Richard Kimble for four seasons on The Fugitive, Kimble was a convicted killer. Bridget's just a potential witness.

Making even less sense than his pursuit of Bridget is the actor who plays Victor, Nestor Carbonell. Luis and Suddenly Susan were many moons ago and it's not like his attempts at acting have improved in the ensuing years so all he has to offer is the surface. These days, Carbonell looks like an aged, male prostitute. A heavily made up street hustler. That's not just due to his 'eye lashes' but let's go there since he can't stop denying that he's done anything to them.

During the run of Suddenly Susan, his claims that his eye lashes were natural -- despite darkness -- was semi-believable. He was younger then. But as he's gotten older, it's gotten harder to believe, especially as the lower eyelashes are now a thick, dark ring where, in the 90s, they weren't so dark and had spaces between them. Most likely, Carbonell is dying his eyelashes. Even if he's not, make up people should have been instructed to normalize his eyes because there's nothing normal about an FBI agent who runs through the streets of New York looking like his eyes have been lined with coal as if he's about to exclaim, "I am the King of the Gypsies!".

Make up disaster more and more is the best term for Barack Obama's public appearances. With little public comment, Barack's skin has noticeably darkened in 2011. No, he hasn't been taking trips to the tanning salon. But he has been wearing a lot of make up.

Like any dewy starlet, in 2007 and 2008, he made due with a dab of lip gloss to mask the unnatural purple shade of his lips. That and, from time to time, a little under eye concealer was really all the fresh faced Barack needed. So the real issue here is not that he appears in public in make up but that he appears heavily made up and why he's doing that?

What's being hidden?

What's taken place under all that foundation?

We don't wonder how he ended up so badly made up because it's rather obvious. When Diana Ross and the Supremes made their first appearance on Ed Sullivan's show, the make up artists did their work and . . . the three Supremes looked like a cartoon version of Egyptians. Diana, Mary and Flo quickly wiped clean their faces and put on their own make up. Ed's artists really didn't know how to make up non-White faces.

A similar thing is going on with Barack's make up where it was decided that he'd look 'robust' with it darker. People who see him up close, face to face, are noting that the make up starts to run rather quickly and it's a thick coat of foundation.

Again, there's been very little public comment on this. If that surprises you, you missed the 80s when Ronald Reagan and his dyed hair were largely ignored by the press even when Reagan publicly insisted that he didn't dye his hair. The press that hid JFK's Addison's disease is the same press that hid Reagan's hair dye and FDR's wheel chair. The DC press has long considered itself to be part of the elite and acted as if their role was to keep information from the people.

Yesterday in his weekly address, Barack decided to share:

This week, we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world. I was proud to announce that -- as promised -- the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year. And in Libya, the death of Moammar Qadhafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do.

In Iraq, we've succeeded in our strategy to end the war. Last year, I announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq. We've already removed more than 100,000 troops, and Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for the security of their own country. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the Iraqi people have the chance to forge their own future. And now the rest of our troops will be home for the holidays.

What a liar. What a sad, sad, sad liar. Last week, Thursday, in fact, US forces on patrol in Mosul came under fire. "Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for their security"? What a sad, sad man. As for the rest of the troops, there will be no full withdrawal. "All" are not coming home. Over 500 soldiers will remain, an unknown number of Marines and, should negotiations prove successful for the US government, an unknown number of "trainers."

As for Libya, Gaddafi had left the palace some time ago. What his death last week proves? Not really much except that when savage behavior is encouraged by a host (the USA), its clients will act accordingly as the 'rebels' proved in behavior that allowed Gaddafi to die in their custody.

Neither action demonstrates leadership on the part of the White House but they do demonstrate spin on the part of the government.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the White House spin but that's an area that's supposed to be reality. What we admire in Ringer, what keeps us tuned in, is its ability to surprise and shock us. But, pay attention, with US presidents, we're not so big on slow reveals or shocks. We like to believe that we'll get whatever it is we thought we voted for.

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