SAMANTHA WHO?: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Christina Applegate as SAMANTHA
Jennifer Esposito as ANDREA
Melissa McCarthy as DENA
Barry Watson as TODD
Tim Russ as FRANK
Jean Smart as REGINA
Kevin Dunn as HOWARD
Studio: ABC Studios
BY KEVIN CARR
One of the pleasant surprises of the 2007 television season was the new dramady “Samantha Who?” This was a triumphant return of Christina Applegate to the small screen as an amnesiac who has to rebuild her life after waking up from a coma.
The problem that Sam faces is that she doesn’t remember anything about her life. Her friends and family are reluctant to share her history with her, so she has to piece it together as the year plays out. Unfortunately, as she uncovers more about her former self, she learns that the old Samantha was not a very good person.
Upon first glance, I pegged this show as a light-hearted version of “Regarding Henry” with a chick instead of Harrison Ford. In the first couple episodes, this was exactly what the show was. However, as the short fifteen-episode series moved forward, the comedy emerged less from Sam’s ignorance of her past but rather her attacking life for new experiences regardless of what happened in her past.
The show has a bit of a rocky start, with some forced comedy that comes from her parents (Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn) as well as her childhood friend Dena (Melissa McCarthy). At the onset, all three of these characters were gimmick-oriented. Her parents didn’t know her for the past few years and want to regress to Sam’s childhood. Dena is a pathetic loser who clutches to Sam for attention.
At the mid-season mark, they adjusted the characters to have a little more depth and interact with Sam better. Dena took a huge upswing when they made her less dwelling on the past and had both Sam and her other snotty friend Andrea (Jennifer Esposito) just accept her.
Like ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” “Samantha Who?” is a feel-good comedy not out to change the world. This is a breath of fresh air for a TV block that engages too much in social engineering. Christina Applegate is entirely likeable and able to carry the whole show. She’s given a chance to stretch her comedy legs – for better or for worse – in various capacities on the show. And with the episodes running a short 22-minutes in length, the entire season is digestible over the course of a few days.
The DVD comes with some audio commentaries, deleted scenes and a blooper reel.
After a cancer scare (which makes the second episode in which Sam debates following through with a scheduled boob job a little awkward), Christina Applegate is coming back for a second season. Hopefully, the series retains its lighthearted and fun attitude.