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Samantha Who? aired from October 2007 until July 2009 on ABC.
What if you had the chance to start over, to do it all again? For Samantha Newly (Christina Applegate), this fantasy became a reality after a hit-and-run accident left her in an eight-day coma. When she woke up in the hospital, she was surrounded by family and friends. The only problem was that she had no idea who they were - or who she was. In medical terms, Sam had retrograde amnesia, which allowed her to fully function in the world but left her with no personal memories. Most people would deem this disorder a curse. But Sam came to call it a miracle.
As she set out to rediscover herself, Sam was forced to rely on the only people who could help her -- an eclectic bunch of friends and family. Although now strangers to Sam, it was not long before she began to get an idea of who she was before the accident.
Regina and Howard (Jean Smart, Kevin Dunn), appeared to be loving parents -- when they were not downplaying the fact that Sam hadn't spoken to them in two years. Her supposed best friend, Dena (Melissa McCarthy) was sincerely supportive, until her real best friend, Andrea (Jennifer Esposito)exposed Dena as a fraud who hadn't seen or spoken to Sam since the seventh grade. Andrea was a party girl who seemed to have Sam's best interests at heart. However in the midst of celebrating her return, Andrea neglected to mention that Sam was an alcoholic, was having an affair with a married man, and had a tendency for all-around morally questionable behavior. Sam's only seemingly trustworthy acquaintance was boyfriend Todd (Barry Watson). But would that trust last when he discovered that she cheated on him?
Sam quickly discovered she was a horrible person. Vain, selfish and potentially surrounded by far more enemies than friends. She made a conscious decision to improve herself moving forward. She vowed to make better choices,and to try to be a better person. She began with Frank (Tim Russ ), the doorman at Todd's apartment building. Sam never gave him the time of day before, but upon actually saying hello to him, she discovered an incredibly observant and unlikely confidant.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- ABC, Mon. Oct. 15, 9:30 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Los Angeles by Donald Todd Prods. and Brillstein Entertainment Partners in association with ABC Studios. Executive producers, Donald Todd, Peter Traugott; producers, Cecelia Ahern, Christina Applegate, John Amodeo; director, Robert Duncan McNeill; writer, Todd; story by Ahern, Todd.
Samantha - Christina Applegate
Andrea - Jennifer Esposito
Howard - Kevin Dunn
Dena - Melissa McCarthy
Frank - Tim Russ
Todd - Barry Watson
Regina - Jean Smart
Attempting to milk the funny from amnesia, "Samantha Who?" seems better suited premise-wise to a romantic comedy than an ongoing series, albeit one owing a debt to "While You Were Sleeping." Christina Applegate's title character awakens a blank slate following an eight-day coma, her horror growing as she gradually discovers what a mega-bitch she was before the car hit her. This raises existential questions of whether Sam can redeem herself, but a more immediate concern will be staving off cancellation, since by the end of the second episode, the thought of memory erasure doesn't sound that bad.
With no recollection of her life before, Samantha is understandably overwhelmed as the pieces begin falling into place: She's been estranged from her doting parents (the show's one bright spot as played by an underused Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn), has been cruel to an old friend (Melissa McCarthy) and has taken for granted good-guy boyfriend Todd ("What About Brian's" Barry Watson).
Sam's impulses to be nicer, however, flummox best pal Andrea (Jennifer Esposito), her equally shallow, club-hopping partner in snooty tramp-osity. Eventually, Sam is so desperate for advice that she solicits it from her doorman (Tim Russ), though he clearly doesn't like her much, either.
As structured by series creators Donald Todd and novelist Cecelia Ahern, the show is meant derive comedy from all the things Sam doesn't know about herself, from the food she enjoys to (in the second episode) what she does for a living. (At work she's been as tyrannical with her fellow employees as with those in her personal orbit.)
The only decent moments come from Smart and Dunn -- the former dense enough to think that yelling will help jog her daughter's faulty recall powers, the latter constantly introducing himself. If the series were redesigned so that Sam went home and just stayed there, there might be a ray of hope for it.
As is, though, the series seeks a tone of whimsy and settles for irritating, leaving Applegate to look perpetually baffled and perhaps longing for the subtlety of "Married ... With Children," without doing much to humanize her character. The dilemma thus becomes less about whether Sam can become a better person and more about why anybody should care.
ABC has done the show one favor, sandwiching it between "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Bachelor," about the only way to create a supporting hammock for a new sitcom on a network lacking a single established half-hour. Unless the series can tap into something primal with women, however -- perhaps by developing Sam and Todd's interrupted relationship, which is pretty tepid thus far -- "Samantha Who?" could demonstrate that most viewers do remember the important stuff, beginning with how to operate a remote control.
A Review from The New York Times
Television Review | 'Samantha Who?'
Emerging From a Coma a Slightly Better Person
By GINIA BELLAFANTE
Published: October 15, 2007
Samantha Who?, a comedy beginning tonight on ABC, makes quite a good case against auteurism. Had the project been left solely in the hands of its co-creator, Cecelia Ahern, a successful 26-year-old Irish novelist, the results could have easily been treacly. Ms. Ahern writes best-selling women's fiction in which, say, an attractive young widow who has lost her husband to brain cancer will discover that he is communicating practical advice to her from the beyond. It is a fairly short step from such inclinations to a television project that might have looked an awful lot like Touched by an Angel.
But Samantha Who? is a personality-transformation fantasy that accommodates a fair amount of cynicism. Shot with a single camera and absent a laugh track, it begins with the image of Samantha Newly, played by Christina Applegate, emerging from a coma to remember nothing of the egomaniacal and spendthrift life she led before. By her bedside is her uncaring mother, played by the fantastic Jean Smart, who is trying to use her daughter's condition to gain herself a place on reality TV. Taping her pitch, she speaks into a video camera in the hospital room and says: Struck down by a hit-and-run driver. Hooked to machines like an eighth-grade science experiment. In a coma from which she may never recover. Where does a mother turn for comfort and answers at a time like this? To you, that's where. The good people of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Samantha Who? is what Mike Nichols's Regarding Henry would have been had it been funny. When that film was released in 1991, it was lawyers who we thought were Satanic and required spiritual rehauling. Now it is real-estate developers. Not long after Sam comes back to life, she discovers that she works for a virtueless enterprise that seeks to tear down churches and community centers to build mini-malls. But Sam doesn't give up her job to work for the Natural Resources Defense Council; she's steeped in too much credit-card debt. Instead she plows ahead trying to con her bosses and co-workers into becoming slightly less repulsive.
The show works because Ms. Applegate is the kind of comic actress who could never be completely believable as a goody-two-shoes. She puts a healthy ironic distance between herself and that dreaded entity, the better person her character must become. You look in her eyes, and, happily, you see a recidivist.
An Article from USA TODAY
Applegate's 'Samantha' role: Harried, with amnesia
By Bill Keveney,
For Christina Applegate, Samantha Who? is Samantha two.
In the new ABC comedy, Applegate plays both a good Samantha, a sweet, naive amnesia victim, and a harsh version, pre-car accident, who will pop up in flashbacks that underline the story lines.
Bad Samantha: "She's definitely confident, self-assured and self-indulgent," the actress says.
Good Samantha: "She's a lot less so. She doesn't have social skills. She's becoming kind of a nerd. I love the nerdiness."
Applegate is integral to Samantha's appeal, executive producer Donald Todd says.
"There's a vulnerability underneath, but many (auditioning) actresses did not see that at all," Todd says.
Applegate, 35, might not mind being two people with the demands of a role that requires her to be in almost every scene. After finishing shooting at 4 a.m., she squeezed in a phone interview Friday while preparing for a Tonight Show appearance before another night on the set.
"I'm sorry," she says, slightly distracted. "At the same time I'm talking to you, my hair is being curled and my eyelashes are being put on. I'm trying not to move too much. (Multitasking) is the only way I can get everything done these days."
But thinking double doesn't intimidate Applegate, who has grown from dumb-blonde Kelly Bundy in Fox's Married With Children in the '90s to become Will Ferrell's strait-laced love interest in the 2004 movie Anchorman and the title character of the Broadway musical revival of Sweet Charity, for which she received a Tony nomination in 2005.
All have provided useful acting lessons. Married helped her learn "what my funny was," Ferrell was a virtual seminar on improvisation and Charity was a personal triumph, especially after a broken foot nearly sidelined her stage effort.
Applegate has avoided the career-killing typecasting that can accompany a stereotypical role such as teen bombshell Kelly. That was by design, she says.
"I was so not who she was," she says. Some actors "get used to what works and work that into everything they do. They're going to get typecast because they depend on this one thing. But the dumb blonde wasn't an option for me. I always want to do something different."
If the roles aren't there, "then you wait," she says. "There have been times over the last 20 years where I disappeared for a little while. I wasn't going to settle. You have to take risks."
Hitting the stage in Charity was a risk, coming after Anchorman opened more film possibilities. (She filmed The Rocker with Rainn Wilson, to be released in 2008.)
She doesn't regret taking the risk. "The struggle to get there was something I'll never forget. I'm so glad that show happened in my life. I changed so much as a person from that experience."
On Samantha, Applegate praises a cast that includes Jean Smart, Barry Watson, Kevin Dunn, Jennifer Esposito and Melissa McCarthy. "It's the best supporting cast in television, are you kidding me?"
Todd says Applegate and Smart, who plays her narcissistic mother, "take what could be sarcastic or dark characters" and make them sympathetic. He also is pleasantly surprised with how well the relationship has developed between Samantha and her boyfriend Todd (Watson). Todd breaks up with Samantha based on her earlier incarnation but becomes a friend.
Some have questioned how long the show's premise can be played out, but Applegate says possibilities based on the puzzling present and the slowly remembered past are endless.
In coming episodes, she learns what she does for a living a good match for the hard-edged Samantha but a poor fit for the new one and that she's a bridesmaid for a friend she doesn't remember.
Loss of memory applies to sex, too, she says. "She realizes she's basically a virgin, because she doesn't know what that's like, being with someone."
Over time, Samantha may forget less and learn more, Applegate says. At some point, "it's really not about a girl with amnesia anymore. It's about a woman trying to find herself and the people around her learning it's never too late to start over."
A Review from USA TODAY
Talent lifts 'Samantha,' but will premise endure?
By Robert Bianco,
With TV, sometimes it's not the "who" that worries you it's the "how."
Certainly, there's no cause for concern over who's on screen in Samantha Who?, starting with star Christina Applegate. Returning to TV as an unpleasant, high-powered executive who loses her memory and somehow regains her moral sense, Applegate proves that she has matured into a complete comic actress, vulnerable, adorable and amusing at the same time.
Nor can you complain about her co-stars, led by the great Jean Smart as Samantha's mother a role that's too cartoonishly harsh in tonight's premiere but softens in a later episode.
But there are bright moments provided by everyone in the cast, including Kevin Dunn, Tim Russ, Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Esposito and Barry Watson (far better used here than he was in his own show, What About Brian). Unfortunately, as we've already seen this season, gathering talent is not enough if you don't know how to use it. That's where Samantha's worries begin.
Start with the now ABC-standard sitcom use of film and heavy narration devices that distance you from the characters and too often provide an excuse to write "real" when writing funny would be preferable.
The real problem is the concept itself. Created by Donald Todd and Irish author Cecelia Ahern (PS, I Love You), Samantha is a redemption comedy about a woman who, in rediscovering her memory, discovers that she doesn't like who she was and resolves to be someone else. That's a fine idea for a movie: Sam improves, backslides and then redeems herself in the final act, winning the boy in the process. It's just not clear how you stretch it into a series.
After all, as much as you might enjoy Sam's shock at her shoe collection ("Oh, my God, was I hoarding shoes? Was the country converting to some sort of shoe-based currency?"), how long can she stay surprised by her past behavior? For that matter, how long can a person trying to improve hang around with a horror like Esposito's Andrea?
The risk is that the show will quickly turn into a running variation of a single joke. Still, for tonight at least, Applegate seems to be keeping the joke afloat. Convincing both as the terrible woman she used to be and the nicer woman she's trying to be, Applegate holds the character together even when she's yelping or collapsing in a dither though in the long run, less of that would be more.
As for how Samantha can get to the long run, maybe that's a worry best left for another day.
A Review from The Boston Globe
'Samantha Who?' amnesia plot is mind-numbingly forgettable
By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff
October 15, 2007
Poor Jean Smart. Despite her last name, she keeps landing in dumb sitcoms, including, tonight at 9:30 on Channel 5, "Samantha Who?" Able to make brash inappropriateness quite funny, the "Designing Women" vet has nonetheless had no comedy success of late with the quickly canceled likes of "In-Laws," "Style and Substance," "High Society," and "Center of the Universe." In short, they were sitbombs.
Poor Christina Applegate. "Samantha Who?" is her vehicle, really. She's Samantha, who wakes from an eight-day coma with amnesia and learns she was a nasty, cheating narcissist. Applegate tries to be charming, and at times she is, as Samantha uses her second chance to be a better person, not unlike on "My Name Is Earl." But Applegate's flustered performance frequently veers into shrill hysteria, notably tonight when she freaks out at an AA meeting. Perhaps Applegate is overacting to compensate for. . .
The poor writers of "Samantha Who?" They have to try to keep a slight, preposterous amnesia concept fresh from episode to episode. But halfway through the premiere, the basis for the entire show is already worn thin. OK, we get it, she was "Bad Sam" before and now she's good; she lied to her sweet boyfriend, Todd (Barry Watson), before, but now she's good; she mistreated her loser friend Dena (Melissa McCarthy) before, but now she's good; and so forth. How long can a sitcom keep this simplistic business going, a business that can barely stay afloat for the two hours of a movie such as "Regarding Henry"? "Samantha Who?" moves fast, as the heroine scoots from her parents' home to her apartment to her office and back, but it's all so much running in place.
Poor ABC. Yes, the network has had quite a few hits lately, including "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," and, now, potentially, "Private Practice." which is gaining ratings momentum. But still it just can't seem to create a new sitcom success, whether the show is good ("The Knights of Prosperity"), bad ("Freddie"), or ugly ("Cavemen"). And there's nothing like a sitcom hit, with its lucrative syndication potential. The network has scheduled "Samantha Who?" after the highly rated "Dancing With the Stars," which may bring on a nice initial viewership. But in my crystal ball, I see declining numbers, and I see forthcoming sorrow for. . .
Poor series creators Don Todd and Cecelia Ahern. They carefully assembled a pretty good supporting cast, including Smart, McCarthy (from "Gilmore Girls"), and Jennifer Esposito, who plays a friend who wants the corrupt Sam to return. But - whoops - they neglected to invent a durable plot device. They also had to face bumps on their journey to prime time.
First, the Dr. Seuss estate nixed the original title, "I Am Sam," and then the replacement title "Samantha Be Good" was changed, too, probably not because of Chuck Berry but because it was just bad. Todd and Ahern had to settle for "Samantha Who?" as they worked hard to bring their show to. . .
Poor us. Wait a minute - not poor us. We can watch "Samantha Who?" and be very mildly entertained and irritated, or we can turn our attention elsewhere. We have a number of comedy options during the week, including "The Office," "30 Rock," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Daily Show," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and, on Oct. 25, "Scrubs." We get to walk away from "Samantha Who?" and forget all about it.
A Review from The Dallas Morning News
Christina Applegate draws laughs as amnesiac in 'Samantha Who?'
TELEVISION: Applegate elevates amnesia comedy
09:48 AM CDT on Monday, October 15, 2007
By TOM MAURSTAD Media Critic
The answer to the question asked by this new sitcom's title, Samantha Who?, is Christina Applegate. This new show from ABC marks the return of the former Married With Children star to series television, and as she's proven in subsequent movies (Anchorman) and sitcoms (Jesse), Ms. Applegate is a sharp actress with seemingly perfect pitch when it comes to making with the funny.
As the debut episode reaffirms, Ms. Applegate is as close to a sure thing as you can get. She's like the Roger Federer of comedic acting: There's seemingly no situation you can throw at her that she won't return beautifully while making it look easy. Throw in Jean Smart as her sweetly self-centered mom, and you've got a doubles team for the ages.
The problem is the show they've been stuck in, or perhaps that should be stuck with. Ms. Applegate is, as you may have guessed, Samantha, or Sam as she is called everywhere but in the title. The show introduces us to Sam waking up from an eight-day coma to discover that she has "retrograde amnesia," which means, as it is explained to us again and again, that she can remember everyday information but has no specific memories of her life or identity.
The good news is that nobody can play exasperated befuddlement better than Christina Applegate. At one point she's going through her clothes, looking for a dress to wear. She holds up a black, ultra-short dress and exclaims, "Oh, my God, I have a daughter?" Of course, she doesn't have a daughter; that dress is just one artifact of the trampy, trashy life she led before her accident. When, a little later, she rushes into a nightclub to join the birthday celebration for "Rene," who she thinks is a female co-worker, Sam is grabbed by a dashing man who passionately kisses her. It turns out that Rene is the married man she's been cheating on her boyfriend with "Oh, I'm bad," she groans in a clouds-parting moment of realization.
And there you have the two-step set-up of Samantha Who? Sam is an amnesiac who learns her former self was a lying, cheating, selfish alcoholic, and she determines not to be that person anymore. If that setup sounds familiar, a formerly bad person suffers some calamity and vows to change his-her ways, it should. Other working titles for this sitcom as it was being developed were Samantha Be Good and Sam I Am, but you could just as easily add My Name Is Sam to the list.
There's no shame in spinning off a variation on a successful show, and there's plenty of potential in this takeoff on NBC's hit comedy. But apparently changing a trailer-park guy named Earl to an uptown-exec gal named Sam wasn't enough, so the show's creators felt it necessary to fold in the amnesia element. And it does serve as a starting point for Sam's life-changing quest. But it's hard to see how the show's writers are going to be able to maintain this whole everything-is-new premise without it getting exceedingly tiresome
But within that premise, the writing is smart and funny: The first episode is full of quick comments and asides that are wicked clever. And the cast, to a person, is great. Being put up against Heroes is tough, but in the age of TiVo, anything is possible.Samantha Who?
B- Tonight at 8 on ABC
(Channel 8). 30 mins.
An Article from The Los Angeles Times
'Samantha Who?' aims to jog fans' memory
The promising ABC comedy starring Christina Applegate will return from the writers strike with a solid partner as lead-in.
By Scott Collins, Channel Island
March 24, 2008
Don Todd knows his way around the TV business, having spent more than 20 years writing for shows such as "Ugly Betty," including a few that didn't work out ("Life as We Know it," "Inconceivable"). He's also cheerfully and openly neurotic.
So last year, when ABC picked up his new comedy "Samantha Who?," starring Christina Applegate as a Chicago advertising exec rebuilding her life after suffering amnesia, Todd was just sure something would happen to screw up his big moment. Like, oh, maybe ... a strike.
"There's not a therapist in town that will see me anymore," he joked during an interview at his office on the CBS Radford lot in Studio City. During the writers strike, Todd felt duty-bound to stay away from work, although he could glimpse his assigned studio parking space from the picket lines.
Still unclear, though, is whether the layoff will actually hurt "Samantha Who?," which returns April 7 with its first new episode in four months. For what it's worth, the show remains easily the top-rated new comedy in this weird, attenuated season -- CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" is a distant No. 2. Much of the show's success last fall had to do with the popularity of its lead-in, "Dancing With the Stars," as the producers acknowledge. "Samantha Who?" will again enjoy that cushy scheduling spot next month, although of course there are no guarantees when it comes to the TV business these days.
So cast and crew have good reason to hold their breath, waiting to see if audiences troop back the way they did in unexpectedly large numbers last week for CBS' Monday comedy lineup.
"I absolutely believe it interrupted the momentum," Applegate told me during a brief chat recently in her dressing room between scenes, referring to the strike. "It was like a blow to the stomach.
"I feel like a new show needs to carry on [without interruption]. People are fickle, audiences are fickle. . . . Leaving it off like that, I think it might be hard for the audience to get back in and remember what was going on. But hopefully we'll be able to capture them back."
The presence of "DWTS" is key, as executive producer Peter Traugott acknowledged: "If we had to come back and self-start a time period, that would be a different story. That would definitely make us a lot more nervous. But having that lead-in, I think we feel pretty good about an audience finding the show again."
The issue has to do with more than just "Samantha Who's" ability to stand on its own. Industry wisdom dictates that reality shows often don't mix well on the TV schedule with scripted programs, because the audiences they attract are often very different. But network execs still try; Fox, for example, has tried to jump-start numerous shows by pairing them with " American Idol."
This approach yielded success with "24" and "House." But "Idol" has also been yoked to clinkers like " 'Til Death," "Life on a Stick," "Unan1mous" and more.
So is "Samantha Who?" closer to "House" or " 'Til Death?"
The former, the producers hope, naturally. And indeed, although critics were never crazy about the amnesia story line, there's some evidence viewers feel affection, if not yet "Seinfeld"-esque loyalty, for Applegate and the band of quirky characters that surrounds her, including Jennifer Esposito as Sam's naughty friend Andrea. The pop-culture site Metacritic.com gave "Samantha Who?" a mediocre 59 (out of 100) rating among TV reviewers, but everyday users scored the comedy at a much stronger 8.5 (out of 10).
Todd argues that if viewers didn't like the show, they simply wouldn't watch. "Not every show that aired after 'Dancing With the Stars' the last couple of years built an audience," he said. (True enough: Remember Ted Danson's ill-fated "Help Me Help You"?)
Back when the producers pitched the show to ABC, "we looked at the network we were making this for, what they had on the network, and where it might work, and consciously planned a show that could go behind any of their hits," Todd said.
Given that ABC already had a lock on young women with shows like "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Bachelor" -- not to mention "DWTS" -- a sitcom angled toward young women seemed like the safest bet. "They bought the pitch," Todd said, "because it had an appeal to a demographic they already had."
Once a show is on the air, that kind of calculation carries it only so far. Applegate is the star, and Todd makes it clear that she's the centerpiece of the writers' efforts. Familiar to millions of viewers from her days as the dim-witted teenage daughter on Fox's "Married ... With Children," the actress, now 36, also had an ill-fated experience a decade ago on NBC's sitcom "Jesse." But she's retained her appeal among young-adult viewers who now drive ratings.
The key, Todd says, was finding "the right match for tone and material." Her character's unusual past on "Samantha Who?" allows her to retain elements of the dumb-blond stereotype while simultaneously portraying a contemporary career woman -- a canny combination.
Further refinements are on the way. Gradually the writers are moving away from the amnesia device that rankled critics and just developing the character relationships.
"At some point, the idea of the amnesia really has to fade away and the idea of a human being learning about themselves and redirecting themselves, that has to be the primary focus," Applegate said. In one recent episode, "I think there's one mention of the fact I don't remember something."
During the work stoppage, Todd found himself with plenty of time to think about tinkering with the show, even if he couldn't officially work. He realized that the writers had set too many episodes during winter in Chicago, giving the series a dark, depressing look. So he decided that it would be a magically brief winter on Lake Michigan this year, at least on "Samantha Who?"
He smiled wryly.
"I've often said there is an aspirational quality to the show," he said.
An Article from The AP
Published on April 11, 2008
Applegate hopes we haven't forgotten "Samantha Who?"
By Frazier Moore
The Associated Press
The series returns with new episodes at 9:30 p.m. Monday, ABC.
NEW YORK Christina Applegate has a couple of pieces of showbiz advice.
"Don't try to be different," she says. "And don't try to be funny."
One more thing: When you want to convey innocence and adorableness, think curls.
Seems like her ABC comedy "Samantha Who?" is putting such tips to good use. It's different and funny, full of energy that seems unleashed, not forced.
It focuses on a young career woman who awakens from a coma remembering nothing about who she was before. Clue by clue, Samantha begins to form a picture of herself and realizes that, in her old life, she was selfish, conniving and mean-spirited. She vows to be a better Sam in the future.
Debuting last October, "Samantha Who?" marked the return to TV of its star (who in 1987 helped establish Fox as ditzy teenager Kelly on "Married ... with Children"). Even so, it arrived without the anticipative clatter raised by other fall newcomers like "Bionic Woman" and "Cavemen."
Then it worked its charm on viewers and broke out as a hot new show.
Then the writers strike brought everything to a halt.
Now "Samantha Who?" is back with fresh episodes for several weeks straight. Applegate sees this as her show's big chance to penetrate the audience's consciousness again and stay there this time.
Meanwhile, it's poised to prove itself to any skeptics left as more than a sitcom about extreme forgetfulness.
"I was always taken aback by people who wondered how far can we go with this gimmick," says Applegate. "We always knew that it was not gonna be an 'amnesia show.' Every series has to start somewhere; every show starts with a concept. But after the third episode, we hardly mention amnesia.
"It's a show about a woman figuring out who she is."
Pretty heavy issues for a weekly comedy to dwell on. But "Samantha Who?" keeps it lighthearted.
"I really want to change," Samantha blurts out to a gathering of strangers. "But maybe I can't. You know: 'I yam what I yam.' Popeye. THAT I remember.
"Sam is largely unformed and experiencing firsts, one after another," says Applegate. "I love that about this character."
Meeting with a reporter, the 36-year-old Applegate mostly speaks in emphatic undertones. No jabbering. No zaniness. No mistaking her for Sam.
Far less likely, of course, would be confusing her with Kelly Bundy. But after 11 seasons, and 259 syndicated episodes re-airing ever since, the unabashedly raunchy "Married ... with Children" retains a prominent place among Applegate's credits.
"Doing that show was a good thing. Living in full abandon as that character it was a great training ground. I don't need to ever get away from her."
After that series, she landed the title role of an NBC sitcom, "Jesse," where she played a single mother.
But success for "Jesse," she says, "just wasn't in the cards." Premiering in September 1998, it lasted just a season and a half. "And that's OK with me. I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. Otherwise, you're just dealing with disappointment all the time."
If she's right, there surely was a cosmic rationale for the woes plaguing the 2005 revival of "Sweet Charity." She broke her foot, then, after nearly forfeiting the starring role, made her Broadway premiere obliged to dance "on the inside of my foot," she recalls.
She gestures in the general direction of Central Park. She not only aims to return to the stage, but dreams of performing Shakespeare in the Park. "So I'm putting that dream out there in the universe," she says with a smile.
CBS yanks "Secret Talents"
CBS is axing its new reality show "Secret Talents of the Stars" after only one episode.
The first airing Wednesday had former "Star Trek" actor George Takei singing "On the Road Again." Only 4.6 million people tuned in and thousands tuned away as the hour continued.
The reality show also had Clint Black doing stand-up comedy. Danny Bonaduce is among the celebrities whose secret talents will be kept to himself.
ALSO: Party on, Mike Myers. The star of "Wayne's World," "Austin Powers" and "Shrek" will host the 2008 MTV Movie Awards.
The 17th annual show will air live on June 1. Nominees will be announced in May.
An Article from The Los Angeles Times
'Samantha Who?': Christina Applegate likes behaving badly
'SAMANTHA WHO?' APPLEGATE LIKES TO BE THE BAD ONE
May 28, 2008
A YOUNG woman of questionable morals gets hit by a car, knocked into a coma and awakens with amnesia. You've got to be kidding, right? Even the show's co-creator, Donald Todd, was skeptical at first. Hearing the pitch from co-creator Cecilia Ahern, "I kind of stopped listening halfway through," he recalls. "Then when I heard that the character was good and found out she was bad in the past, I got interested, because that showed me possibilities." Star Christina Applegate had the same reaction. "I thought, 'Oh, ridiculous,' " she says, "and then I read the first page, and there was something so wrong about the mother taping her for 'Extreme Makeover' while she was in a coma that I thought, 'This is up my alley.' "
Applegate, as the title character in "Samantha Who?" wrestles with friends, family and her evildoing past in the ABC comedy that holds out the fantasy of being able to start life over with a clean slate. "Every week it's a redemption story," Todd points out. "People are really excited about the idea of somebody trying to be better than themselves."
And amnesia is just a jumping off point. "Every show has to have a concept, you start somewhere," Applegate says. "Then you build off of that, knowing that it's there within the story line but it's not the focal point."
In the coming season, Todd says, "we shift farther away from amnesia and into a show about a woman who is aggressively trying to live a brand-new life."
But Applegate will not be giving up the flashbacks to her character's sordid past, she insists. "I love playing bad Sam."
An Article from The New York Times
JEAN SMART 'SAMANTHA WHO?'; Roles of the Season, Maybe a Lifetime
By GINIA BELLAFANTE
Published: June 8, 2008
Jean Smart has aged well. She doesn't just look good; as an actress she's gotten better and funnier. Nearly every time she has appeared on television in the past few years, you have wanted her to sit tight and stay. As Martha Logan, wife of the weasely, Nixonian commander in chief during the fifth season of ''24'' (and his ex, briefly and brilliantly this past season), she gave us torment and grievance and righteous fury. As Regina Newly, mother to Christina Applegate's recovering amnesiac on the ABC comedy, ''Samantha Who?,'' she makes narcissism seem like parental entitlement and disdain a joy for whoever is looking. Regina has little use for her daughter's search for selfhood -- she regarded the coma that had caused her forgetfulness as an opportunity to pitch the family's woeful fortunes to a home-makeover show -- and Ms. Smart brings a restrained relish to every second of the insanity.
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Samantha Who?' series finale: We'll miss you
July 24, 2009 at 07:38 PM EDT
The problem with networks taking shows off the air for months? Viewers realize they can live without it. The problem with Samantha Who? having a great final two episodes? Viewers realize just how much they’ll miss it.
Melissa McCarthy (Dena), I’ll miss your breezy delivery of lines that we ourselves could never get through: After Chase (Rick Hoffman) said he should be allowed to accompany Dena to Andrea’s marrieds-only wedding because they are in a committed relationship, she answered, “Yes we are, unless I meet someone off my free-pass list, of course. Considering most of them are characters from Lord of the Rings, I think you’re pretty safe.” Priceless delivery. Love her. WHERE DENA ENDED UP: At the airport with Chase (and her dogs), destination unknown. He spiraled into an identity crisis after Dena finally let it slip that Samantha had suffered from amnesia, not a trip to rehab. If she could be the company’s top performer without her memory, what did that say about her job? His job? He wanted them to get away and find out what’s real.
Jennifer Esposito (Andrea), I don’t think I fully appreciated your all-in performance as the most likable shallow person on TV until last night. Fasting for her sham wedding to a gay basketball star — “I licked two stamps before I came in” — she was prone to passing out. I had to rewind when Samantha feared for her life, and Andrea offered a supportive, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Uh-oh,” then dropped out of frame. What could’ve been a bad cliché totally worked. This show was so well cast. WHERE ANDREA ENDED UP:Spooning Seth the towel boy (Stephen Rannazzisi) after he showed up at the wedding. (She’d seen a tape of him saying that he’d really wanted her for himself when he’d set her up with her fiancé.) Anyone else sorta wish the ceremony had gotten a little farther along? I could’ve enjoyed more of the fake parents the cable network casted for Andrea since her real ones were stuck in traffic. (According to IMDB, “dad” wasn’t actually ever on Veronica Mars, which would’ve been genius.) addCredit(“Mitch Haddad/ABC”)
Christina Applegate (Samantha), I hope you get another show soon. There’s just a confidence about you that, again, somehow makes cliché sitcom moments — such as Samantha backing out of a room because someone (guest star Angie Harmon, as Funk’s ex-wife) just said “That’s the last time you should ever turn your back on me” — as hilarious as the first time we ever saw it. WHERE SAMANTHA ENDED UP: With Todd (Barry Watson)! I may have applauded. Quick recap: After Funk’s ex-Gigi (Harmon) confronted Samantha about old Samantha’s affair with Funk (Billy Zane), Sam intended to help reunite the couple. Only she found the romantic emails Gigi had told Sam Funk had sent her, and Sam finally pounced on Funk. Sam remembered that it was Gigi who’d run her over, but since Sam accidentally hit Gigi backing out of her space in the parking garage, she thought they were square. (Gigi didn’t, hence the above-mentioned threat. I would’ve loved some scenes between Harmon and Esposito had we had more episodes.) Andrea finally convinced Sam to invite Funk to the wedding, but oops!, Todd had flown back from London to be her escort. Sam and Todd fought (“The best time we ever had together was when you were in a coma”), he picked up the ring he’d hidden in the bookshelf and headed back to the airport. Wearing her heinous Little Bo Peep bridesmaid dress (pictured), Sam pieced together that Funk had offered Todd the photo editor job at a magazine in London to get him out of the picture — which Funk saw nothing wrong with. All he did was the dangle the job; Todd took it. Sam said she knew what she wanted, couldn’t stay for the wedding, and suddenly, she and Funk were in his helicopter, heading to the airport for a flight to the island he’d bought so Andrea could honeymoon on it. How did I not see it coming when Samantha thanked Funk for the ride? She manipulated him to get to the airport in time to stop Todd. How did he like it? Perhaps the sweetest use of heightened airport security measures followed: Todd, who’d now realized he wanted to stay and fight for Sam, got sent to security because he was about to send a bag on a plane he had no intention of boarding. Sam got sent to security because she was trying to buy a plane ticket that she had no intention of using. Sam spilled her heart out to her security officer and said she didn’t care if she and Todd were out of sync, as long as they were out of sync together. He overheard her. He got his nice security to hand him the ring, and Todd and Sam kissed, prairie-dogging over the cubicle partition that separated them. APPLAUSE! And that brings us to…
Jean Smart (Regina), who was waiting in Sam’s apartment after Todd and Samantha had giddily announced their engagement to the stoic-as-always doorman Frank (Tim Russ) — and told them that she and Sam’s dad Howard (Kevin Dunn) were separating and she was moving in. You know, that’s a story line you don’t see that often: What does happen if a couple wants to spend their retirement differently? Howard wants to live in his RV and explore the past (i.e. Civil War sites); butterfly-tattooed Regina wants to fly into the future experiencing new city things (i.e. sushi). I would’ve loved a few episodes of Regina sharing the apartment with Sam and Todd, on the prowl. I’m not sure it’s possible for someone who was on Designing Women to be underrated, but smart is a gem. She can play drunk (“That dog has pedigree so get over there and sniff his butt”), she can play pain (when she broke down in front of Howard), and she can play everything in between.
How did you like the Samantha Who? finale? What will you miss most?
To watch clips of Samantha Who go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=samantha+who+tv+show
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMOR8X2TPvY
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Keywords: Samantha Who: Christina Applegate