Ioan Gruffudd, left, as Andrew Martin and Sarah Michelle Gellar...

Ioan Gruffudd, left, as Andrew Martin and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Bridget Kelly/Siobhan Martin on "Ringer," on The CW. (Michael Desmond/The CW/MCT) Credit: THE CW/MICHAEL DESMOND

THE SHOW "Ringer"

WHEN | WHERE Tonight at 9 on CW/11

REASON TO WATCH Sarah Michelle Gellar . . . and Sarah Michelle Gellar

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Way out on the dusty high plains of Wyoming, an exotic dancer at some cowboy lounge has witnessed the murder of a colleague. And now, she must testify. Bridget Cafferty (Gellar) is reluctant because a local crime boss did the deed, so, rather than face likely retribution, she skips to New York, to hook up with long-estranged twin sister, Siobhan (ummm, Gellar).

Siobhan is a cold, calculating type -- yes, the evil twin -- who suddenly disappears, leaving Bridget, who's now fleeing the cops, to assume her identity. Bridget thinks Siobhan committed suicide, but viewers may come to other conclusions. Meanwhile, Bridget becomes Siobhan, mostly to hide from the Wyoming mobster who wants her dead. Bridget quickly learns her treacherous sis has dark secrets, as she also dodges the cop Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell, "Lost") hot on her trail.

MY SAY Sarah. Michelle. Gellar. Those names remain magic in some TV circles based on the assumption that a cult actress should be able to drag along the cultists from the "Buffy," "Scream" and "Grudge" years. And yeah, Gellar -- or I guess I should say both of her -- looks stunning, as if the intervening years were mere months. But they are not: Gellar, 34, is a devoted mom (married to Freddie Prinze Jr.) who has drifted irrevocably beyond the sweet spot of the CW's largely teen demographic.

This show, in fact, was developed for CBS, which then palmed it off on the kid sister network, all too happy to reunite with the biggest star in its history by far (or the WB's history, by far). But "Ringer" doesn't remotely feel like a WB or CW series. It's inert, lackluster and a trifle old-fashioned. Even the action scenes feel geriatric. It's also vaguely silly -- a big reason the venerable good twin/evil twin gambit is better suited to comedy than drama. Phoebe and Ursula Buffay anyone?

BOTTOM LINE This will get a quick pickup -- mark my words -- but Buffy Anne Summers fans will wonder why.


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