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On The Tube

Sept 8 , 2011
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By Dean Robbins

'Ringer' allows Sarah Michelle Gellar to flop in two roles

By Dean Robbins

In 'Ringer' (Tuesday, 8 p.m., CW), Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Bridget, a former prostitute/stripper/addict who goes on the lam rather than testify against a ruthless killer. Bridget hooks up with her evil twin sister, Siobhan - also played by Gellar - who conveniently disappears. That allows Bridget to step into Siobhan's place as a high-society matron and elude her would-be assassin. But impersonating her is no easy feat, as sis is involved in some craziness of her own.

'Ringer' is relentlessly cheesy and humorless, and Gellar is simply awful in her dual role. As Siobhan, she's just a clothes rack for designer outfits, while as Bridget she keeps flashing the same disoriented expression. It's hard to believe this is the same appealing actress from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Scooby-Doo.'

Wait a minute — is there any chance Gellar herself has a twin sister? Perhaps an evil amateur-actress twin who snuck onto the set of 'Ringer'?

'Voices from Inside the Towers'

Saturday, 8 p.m. (History)

There is scant visual evidence of the terror inside the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. But there are cellphone messages the trapped people left for loved ones, and 'Voices from Inside the Towers' tastefully chronicles them. We meet the still-grieving family members, who explicate these precious seconds of audio.

One vignette offers a message left by Brad Fetchet, a 24-year-old working on the 89th floor of the South Tower. He called home after the first plane hit, staying calm to reassure his parents. "You're welcome to give me a call here. I think we'll be here all day," he says flatly, with only a nervous clearing of the throat to suggest his dire situation.

Don't watch 'Voices from Inside the Towers' without a box of tissues handy. Or maybe two boxes.

'Dina's Party'

Saturday, 9 p.m. (HGTV)

'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' are renowned for temper tantrums, fistfights and other crude behavior. That's why we love them. So you expect more of the same in this home-design show featuring New Jersey Housewife Dina Manzo, who creates elaborate theme parties for her clients. But the premiere features an extraordinarily well-behaved Dina, planning a Wild West party with exquisite taste.
I'm all for exquisite taste, but not where The Real Housewives of New Jersey are concerned. Watching Dina go about her job with low-key professionalism, you just feel cheated. Would it kill her to break one damn plate over a client's noggin?

'The Space Between'

Sunday, 8 p.m. (USA)

If any subject would incline you to forgive a sentimental TV movie, it's 9/11. In 'The Space Between,' a flinty flight attendant named Montine (Melissa Leo) is grounded on Sept. 11, 2001, with an earnest Pakistani-American boy (Anthony Keyvan) in her care. When she discovers that the boy's father works in the crumbling World Trade Center, she reluctantly shepherds him to New York City by hook or by crook. As you would imagine, acceptance and hope ensue.

But in this case, you're glad of it. 'The Space Between' is truly moving, thanks to Leo's mastery at creating her character. Montine is a woman trying to hold onto her dignity despite the indignities of her profession, and 9/11 pushes her to the edge. She's blunt, nasty, exasperated and, ultimately, saintly — the way a real woman might be in this situation.
It's not often an actress gets to scale her performance to such justifiably intense material, and Leo makes the most of the opportunity.

'Gaga by Gaultier'

Monday, 7 p.m. (CW)

Lady Gaga is a master of images; less so of talking. Whenever she opens her mouth, all mystery drains out of her persona, and she sounds like any other inarticulate woman - albeit one wearing a two-foot-high green wig.

Unfortunately, this special focuses on Gaga's conversation. She speaks with designer Jean-Paul Gaultier in his Paris workshop, discussing fashion and (yawn) her relationship with her fans.

At least she'll model a few fabulous outfits. This may be the first interview that's best watched with the sound turned down.

'Miss Universe'

Monday, 8 p.m. (NBC)

Donald Trump flirted with the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year but ultimately retreated back into his pageant kingdom. I think all earthlings should be grateful that he's the ruler of the Universe rather than the United States. CV

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