It has been eight years since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” aired its final episode. The supernatural drama, which ran for seven seasons between 1997 and 2003, developed a cult following and the praise of television critics, but it struggled to achieve recognition on the awards circuit. Despite the outcry of fans and the media, it never received nominations for acting, directing, or Best Drama Series, and it earned just a single bid for writing in 2000 (losing to “The West Wing“).
Though series star Sarah Michelle Gellar earned nominations from the Golden Globes and the Television Critics Association (both in 2001), she was never invited to the Emmy race for Best Drama Actress. Gellar was so furious about the snubs that, when the TV academy staged a tribute event at its headquarters in North Hollywood as “Buffy” was leaving the airwaves in 2003, she refused to attend.
But now Gellar returns to series television this fall in the drama “Ringer,” which premieres on the CW network on September 13. The series, though created by “Supernatural” writers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, moves Gellar away from the world of vampires and demons, which Emmy voters have seldom taken a shine to. Gellar has one other important advantage: she plays two characters.
Actors playing multiple roles have a history of succeeding at the Emmys, from Sally Field in “Sybil” to six-time Daytime Emmy winner Erika Slezak on “One Life to Live.” And just two years ago Toni Collette won Best Comedy Actress for playing a mother with multiple personalities on Showtime’s dramedy “United States of Tara.” In “Ringer,” Gellar plays twin sisters: Bridget, a recovering alcoholic on the run from the mob, and Siobhan, whose life may also be fraught with peril. To protect herself, Bridget assumes Siobhan’s identity.
But the series has at least one crucial challenge to overcome: its network. The TV Academy was blind to the WB and UPN when those networks were in existence. That was surely one of the factors that contributed to the repeated snubs of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well as other acclaimed programs with broader, less teen-centric appeal like “Gilmore Girls,” “Everwood,” and “Jack & Bobby.” In 2006, the two floundering networks merged to become the CW, which has yet to fare any better at the Emmys.
“Ringer” was originally developed as a pilot for CBS, but the network passed it down to the CW, which CBS co-owns with Warner Bros. According to CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler, there were no time periods available in CBS’s fall lineup. And perhaps the heavily serialized drama was a poor fit for TV’s top-rated network, whose focus has shifted in recent years to procedural dramas with self-contained storylines like “CSI,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” and their respective spinoffs. CBS’s new fall-season offerings continue this trend with the crime dramas “Unforgettable” and “Person of Interest.”
Nevertheless, “Ringer” made a big splash at this year’s Comic-Con, where fans were treated to a three-minute preview and a panel discussion including Gellar and her co-stars Nestor Carbonell (“Lost“), Kristoffer Polaha (“Life Unexpected“), and Ioan Gruffudd (“Fantastic Four“). Can the series finally end the Emmy drought that has plagued both Gellar and the CW? Watch the trailer below and decide for yourself.