Judge Brett Cullum remembers the series everyone else forgot.
Our review of Samantha Who? The Complete First Season, published September 23rd, 2008, is also available.
Christina Applegate is…Samantha Who?
Samantha Who? was one of ABC's most promising comedies that debuted in the last couple of years, and at one point beat Two and a Half Men in ratings as the number one sitcom on television. It was likable, genuinely funny, and had a great cast. Yet the writers' strike left it shortchanged, the star had some medical issues, and ratings went down to a third without a Dancing With the Stars lead-in during the second season. Twelve million viewers tuned in for the premiere in October 2007, but by 2009 it was getting an audience of only four million. Samantha Who? The Complete Second Season collects the last twenty episodes of the sitcom, and throws in some bonus features as well.
Facts of the Case
Samantha Who? is about a girl (Applegate) who wakes up from a coma with retrograde amnesia. She begins to realize before a car accident, Samantha Newly was a horrible person who was manipulative, slutty, materialistic, and at odds with her friends and family. The girl decides to make amends for past sins and sets out to reclaim her life by being a better Sam this time around. Problem is she doesn't know anything anymore, and yet her past comes in and out during flashbacks.
She also has help regaining her memory from friends and family. Jennifer Esposito (Crash) makes a splash as Sam's pre-coma best friend, and she's trying to get the old evil Sam back. Her acid tongue and sarcastic quips provide tons of the show's laughs. Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls) is the sweet friend from Junior High who is there because she has been forgotten by "Bad Sam." Barry Watson (What About Brian) plays Todd, the pre-coma boyfriend who is not sure what to make of "New Sam," especially when "Bad Sam" played him like a pro. Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager) is the dry doorman at Sam's chic Chicago condo building. Kevin Dunn (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Jean Smart (Designing Women) round everything out as Sam's parents, who try to take care of her best they can.
Samantha Who?'s second season was solid enough with plenty of star power and goofy situations. The season opener included a guest appearance from Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting) and Mark Ballas (Dancing With the Stars) posing as a May December dance team at a country club ballroom contest. Mary-Kate Olsen (Full House) also made a cameo in an episode as a kelptomaniac sam didn't seem to help much. the main romantic arc of the season revolved around whether sam would end up with todd or a new love interest played by billy zane (Titanic). The big problem this year was it seemed that Sam's relationships were already too well established, so there was little tension between her family and friends.
The seventeen episodes that made up the official season are put on three discs with the "More Sam" summer episodes showing up as a supplement on the final DVD, bringing the program count up to twenty. Transfers look extremely good with solid colors and nice details. The surround sound is mainly centered around the front speakers and dialogue, but there are some nice atmospherics. Extras are mainly found on the middle DVD. On the second one you find the bulk of the supplements. Donald Todd introduces seven "deleted scenes" and sets each one up for you. Next up is a very short gag reel from season two which lasts about a minute. The "Set Tour with Christina Applegate" is a fun feature that Melissa McCarthy helps to co-host. "Christina Dance Moment" has Donald Todd again discussing a look at the dance from the season opener. It's a chance to see unedited takes of the "good" and "bad" versions. "Girl Chat" is an interview featurette with the three female leads sitting on a couch discussing goofy topics for a couple of minutes. On the first disc there is a "Starter Kit" which recaps everything you need to know about the initial year.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I adored this show mainly for the cast. I have unabashedly admitted my love for all things Applegate whether it be Married With Children, The Sweetest Thing, or even that hideous Gwyneth Paltrow film about being a stewardess, View From the Top. The network sabotaged this one by juggling it all over the schedule, making it impossible to find. Also the high concept of a girl with amnesia began to run out of steam all too quickly. Samantha Who? was still a lot of fun, but it just wasn't quite as charming as that first year when the struggles between good and bad Sam were still intriguing and fresh.
In the end, ABC couldn't figure out how to slash the budget of Samantha Who? enough to justify bringing it back for a third year. It's a shame because Christina Applegate is one of my favorite comics working in sitcoms, and I'll miss seeing her pop up and do some pratfalls now and then. Samantha Who? ended probably where it should have at the end of the second year. Thirty-five episodes in, and the amnesia angle was running a little thin and the material seemed lighter than ever. It's nice to see this set offering up some fun extras along with great looking transfers. It's a stylish way to complete your collection of a show the network seemed to forget how to handle.
Not guilty, for bringing us Christina Applegate weekly for a while.
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