Show: Ringer, Season 1 Episode 6 “The Poor Kids Do It Every Day”
Job: Incorporating the character of Mr. Carpenter a.k.a. Jason Dohring
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new show Ringer is on the cusp of its sixth episode. CB and I have followed the show from its inception, keeping careful track of the various deceptions and intrigues. Is Siobhan really dead? No, she is in Paris. How can Bridget pull off pretending to be her sister, when everybody knows that you can tell twins—even identical twins—apart? CB says that she knows a pair of identical twins who were virtually impossible to tell apart except for one small freckle. Does Bridget (a.k.a. Siobhan) realize that by fixing her dead (as she thinks) sister’s marriage, she at some point may have to kiss her dead (as she thinks) sister’s husband? Apparently not, as nothing more than a little hand-holding and one quick smooch has ever occurred between them. CB suggested that Bridget’s (a.k.a. Siobhan’s) pregnancy might explain this marital reticence. Which leads to another question: as Bridget is not pregnant, how long can she keep up the pretence that she is, and how will she explain that she is not? These questions just skim the surface of the ocean of intrigues in this show, but they are not the real reason that we are applying our television expertise to the plot. Our consulting skills have been called upon for one reason: in the sixth episode (airing 10/18/11), a new character will be introduced, played by Jason Dohring.
His name is Mr. Carpenter, and he plays a schoolteacher at the public school that Bridget’s (a.k.a. Siobhan’s) spoiled-brat step-daughter Juliette has recently been sent to after her father discovers she has been using drugs with her private school preppy pals. According to an article read by CB, he will help Juliette out of a scrape. Will he help her further behind the bleachers? We sincerely hope not. In an effort to save Ringer from the awkward inappropriateness of a student-teacher affair (Pretty Little Liars, anyone?), CB and I would like to offer some advice. First, it should be revealed that Mr. Carpenter’s first name is Logan. In case you don’t already see where I am going with this, let me give you a preview:
Second, it should be revealed that he has changed his last name to Carpenter from Echolls. This was done to avoid a scandalous family history, in which his father had an affair with and then murdered a high school girl, who just happened to be Logan Echolls’ a.k.a. Mr. (Logan) Carpenter’s girlfriend. Mr. (Logan) Carpenter grew from this traumatic and angst-filled teenage-hood into a man who wanted to help kids who are just as messed up as he was. So he decided to become a teacher, and was hired at a public high school in New York, miles away from his childhood home and dark past. Where was that childhood home and dark past? Oh, in Neptune, California.
But that’s not the real meat and potatoes of this TV Consultants diagnosis. This little personal history is only an appetizer. The fact is that the show is about Bridget and Siobhan Kelly, and their messed up, deceitful little lives. Siobhan has faked her death and is hiding out in Paris, apparently intending to screw with her husband’s business; Bridget is running both from a crime king-pin who wants her dead for witnessing a murder and from the FBI who want her in protective custody to testify about the crime. The key is that the FBI is trying to find Bridget, and in doing so they are semi-investigating Siobhan (who is actually Bridget).
Leading the case is Agent Machado, a striking man who seems willing to hunt down Bridget Kelly if it’s the last thing he does.
[Sidebar. Agent Machado might be a little odd looking (especially if you were a fan of Lost), but to the average girl (read: CB) he’s hot. For that matter, every single male on Ringer with more than one second of screen time is hot. My theory is that the level of hotness is directly proportionate to the character’s importance for the show. Siobhan’s husband Andrew (Ioan Gruffud) is hot. Siobhan’s lover (and best friend Gemma’s husband) Henry (Kristoffer Polaha) is hot. The cluelessly devoted businessman that Siobhan seduces in Paris is hot. Bridget’s sponsor Malcolm who has sacrificed his body and his sobriety for Bridget’s safety is hot, even though he’s mostly covered in blood. The Narcotics Anonymous guy who inserts himself in Bridget’s life (“Charles”) is hot. I just know he’s not who is says he is.]
The thing about Agent Machado is that he is so dedicated to this case, you just know that at some point his boss is going to review his work in the field.
Boss: Listen, Machado. You’re getting tunnel vision on this case. I’m worried about your sanity. You need to come in for a review.
Machado: I’ve got it under control.
Boss: Nope, you’re still coming in.
Machado: But this case can’t go cold! Who is going to take my place?
And that’s where we come in. Who is going to take Machado’s place? I think I have an answer.
Her name is Veronica Mars, and she went from college straight into the FBI. She got her love of crime-solving from her dad, who was a private detective and before that a sheriff. She has been itching to get out in the field and head her own case, and this is finally it.
It would go down something like this. One day, Agent Mars will be at Siobhan’s (i.e. Bridget’s) apartment, asking her some questions about her runaway sister or her bank statement or her Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and Juliette will return home, having gotten a ride from her teacher, Mr. Carpenter. He volunteered to take her home after she got into a tussle with a classmate or a drug overdose or a double detention. He walks her to her front door. He rings the doorbell. The door opens.
And it’s pretty much the reunion of the century. Veronica and Logan are right back where we left them: she’s looking at him with desire and strength and distrust and admiration and he’s looking at her with passion and tenderness and honesty and a readiness to punch in the face anyone who dares lay a finger on her. Their love is comfort food, angels singing, ocean depths, the Milky Way, mountain ranges, fiery sunsets, skyscrapers, and shooting stars.
Their chemistry is so strong / It’s like an atom bomb.
From this point, the writers of Ringer have two options. They could use the Logan-Veronica relationship as a backdrop of normalcy to the messed-up lives of the central characters of the show. Gemma discovers that her husband has been having an affair with her best friend? Cut to a scene of Veronica meeting Logan at the high school to do some recon on Juliette. Andrew freaks out at his druggie daughter and tells her to apologize to her (suddenly really nice) step-mom? Cut to Logan picking up pizza and a movie for date night. Bridget (a.k.a. Siobhan) surprises everyone by being sweet and selfless and unassuming? Cut to Veronica staking out Bridget’s apartment in a LeBaron while Logan wittily tries to distract her from the passenger’s seat. Siobhan seduces a hot man only to almost throw up all over him and then discovers that she is pregnant? Cut to Logan punching some low-life before Veronica gets a chance to say he’s a CI. It’s a safe route; it allows for the current plot to continue and introduces a sub-plot sure to garner viewers.
But “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” right?
The second option is to run with the Logan-Veronica storyline and write what TV was made for: the irresistibly overpowering chemistry of Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell. Veronica can solve the strange mystery of the strikingly similar sisters, put Bridget back in protective custody, put the criminal king-pin behind bars, put Siobhan before the court of her family and her friends that she so royally screwed over, put all of the hot male leads in a bachelor auction and send them all home with women who have paid to appreciate them. Logan can continue his teenage-life-changing work in his teenaged-sarcastic-jerk manner, crushing the hopes of parent-teacher interviews in addition to even the hint of a possibility of a student-teacher relationship. Veronica will tackle her FBI workload, Logan will hot-headedly beat up the undercover agent in a misguided but lovable attempt to protect her, and they will kiss passionately on the porch or in the living room or at the bowling alley. You might call it old hat, but I call it all that. And a bag of chips.