Saturday, October 13, 2007

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Samantha Who? - Premieres October 15; Solomon's Weekly Rant: ABC's Tricky Promos

Samantha Who?

Samantha Who? - Mondays at 9:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres October 15 at 9:30PM ET/PT


Christina Applegate (Married...with Children, Jessie) returns to network television in a comedy that offers a do-over in life.
What if you had the chance to start over, to do it all again? For Samantha Newly (Ms. Applegate), this fantasy becomes a reality after a hit-and-run accident leaves her in an eight-day coma. When she awakens in the hospital, she is surrounded by family and friends. The only problem is that she has no idea who they are - or who she is. In medical terms, Sam has retrograde amnesia, which allows her to fully function in the world but leaves her with no personal memories. Most people would deem this disorder a curse. But Sam may come to call it a miracle.

As she sets out to rediscover herself, Sam is forced to rely on the only people who can help her -- an eclectic bunch of friends and family. Although now strangers to Sam, it's not long before she begins to get an idea of who she was before the accident.

Sam will need to continue to piece together things from her past to guide her in discovering who she is... or was. After all, sometimes to get to the end of the story, the only place to start is the beginning.


Cast Details:

Christina Applegate as Samantha, Jean Smart as Regina, Jennifer Esposito as Andrea, Kevin Dunn as Howard, Barry Watson as Todd, Melissa McCarthy as Dena, Tim Russ as Frank

Christina Applegate (Samantha Newly) has garnered critical praise for her strength and versatility as an actress in theater, film and television. Applegate first gained widespread attention as the sexy and sarcastic Kelly Bundy on the long-running series Married... with Children. After a very successful 11-season run, she furthered her television success by starring in her own comedy series, Jesse. In 1999 the highly-rated show garnered Applegate a People's Choice Award as Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series and a Golden Globe nomination in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, Comedy or Musical. In 2004 Applegate returned to television as a guest star on Friends, as Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) younger sister, Amy. Her performance earned her an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role. She was nominated for an Emmy once again the following year for yet another witty performance.

Jennifer Esposito (Andrea) is one of the most sought out actresses in Hollywood, with an impressive body of work that encompasses theatre, television and film. Esposito most recently appeared as a guest star in five episodes of the critically acclaimed drama, Rescue Me. She also starred in Related, had a recurring role on New York Undercover and guest starred on Law & Order. In 1996 she gained favorable notice as Stacey Paterno, the spunky Brooklyn-born, Italian-American mayoral secretary on ABC's Spin City.
On this show, she plays Samantha's real best friend, Andrea.

Kevin Dunn (Howard Newly) has a vast resume that includes numerous motion picture and television roles. Dunn has made numerous guest appearances, including Prison Break, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Lost and The Closer. He also starred in the ABC miniseries The Beach Boys: An American Family.
On this show, he plays Samantha's father, Howard.

Melissa McCarthy (Dena) first made her mark on the comedy stage, performing stand up in New York at The Improv and Stand Up New York. McCarthy was most recently seen as the clumsy culinary genius, Sookie St. James, in Gilmore Girls. She has also appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
On this show, she plays her supposed best friend, Dena who is sincerely supportive since the accident.

Tim Russ (Frank, the doorman) has been working in the entertainment industry for the past 30 years. His talents encompass a wide spectrum of the performing arts, including composing, music (guitar & vocals), writing, directing, voice-over and producing. On television he had series regular roles on The Highwayman, The People Next Door and Star Trek: Voyager.
On this show, he plays Frank, the doorman at Todd's apartment building that Samantha talks to.

Barry Watson (Todd) has his first job in Hollywood come when he was only 15 for the daytime soap Days of Our Lives. He is best known for his role as Matt Camden on the successful television family drama 7th Heaven, for which he also directed a couple of episodes, and for two seasons he had the lead role on the addictive ABC series What About Brian.
On this show he plays Samantha's only seemingly trustworthy acquaintance as boyfriend Todd. But will that trust last when he discovers that she cheated on him?

Jean Smart (Regina Newly) continues to exhibit her extraordinary talents in theater, television and film. In January 2006, Smart received her fourth Emmy nomination for her role as the troubled and medicated First Lady Martha Logan on 24. That same year the show won the Emmy for Best Drama and received a Golden Globe nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Ensemble Cast. In 2001 Smart won her second Emmy Award for her guest-starring role on Frasier, and was nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her recurring role on The District. In the year 2000 she was awarded her first Emmy for her hilarious recurring role on Frasier. She starred in the HBO drama series Maximum Security, before starring in the popular sitcom Designing Women. Over the past few seasons she has starred on short lived sitcoms, In-Laws, opposite Dennis Farina, and Center of the Universe, opposite John Goodman.
On this show, she plays Samantha's mother, Regina, who she hasn't spoken to in 2 years.


Pilot Plot:

I have received the first two episodes of the series. The first episode, "Pilot," airing Oct. 15, Samantha awakens in the hospital and is surrounded by family and friends. The only problem is that she has no idea who they are - or who she is. Sam has retrograde amnesia, which allows her to fully function in the world but leaves her with no personal memories. Most people would deem this disorder a curse. But Sam may come to call it a miracle when she discovers what a horrible person she was before the accident.
"Pilot" was a story by by Cecelia Ahern and Donald Todd and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill.
Guest starring are William Abadie as Rene, Nakia R. Burrise as Dr. Kerry Hall, Jelynn Rodriguez as angry woman, Adam Jennings as barista and Brett Rickaby as AA leader.

The second episode I received is airing October 22 and is titled "The Job." In one quick morning, Samantha discovers a handful of surprising things about her old self -- not least of which is what she does for a living. When a board meeting offers a glimpse of her cutthroat and competitive workaholic former self, she ponders where new Sam should diverge from old Sam's path. Ultimately, she learns that having a clean slate doesn't necessarily mean you can ignore the past
"The Job" is written by Donald Todd and directed by Lee Shallat Chemel.
Guest starring are Joy Osmanski as Tracy, Rick Hoffman as Chase Chapman, Frank Maharajh as Dr. Kegoshian, B.J. Clinkscales as waiter, Dana Sorman as Jerri and Jamison Haase as Vic.


Analysis:

This show is very good. It is not as funny as a sitcom should be so far, but the storyline is very good despite being a cliche of sitcoms of the past. The amnesia storyline has been done so many times, but how about a whole series on it? I don't think that has been done, and right off the bat we are interested in this story. Christina Applegate shows her versatile skills on this show. She is in every scene! She is everywhere...from her parents house, boyfriend's house, a club, and an AA meeting?? She is wholesome, bad, sexy, and funny in the pilot. Her character has been in a coma for 8 days and when the pilot episode starts, she awakens. She has been in a coma due to a hit-and-run car accident. That is a storyline they can ponder in a later episode--who was the culprit? Anyway, the parents of Samantha are in the hospital room when she awakens from the coma. They are pretty funny and joke around even when she awakens. Her "supposed" best friend Dena is also there. Later we find out that she has not been friends with her in years but when she heard she was in a coma, she came to visit--everyday. And even better, she had amnesia so she can fake and say that she is her best friend. Her real best friend is Andrea, who is a slutty ditz. We meet her a bit later. But first we meet Todd, Samantha's boyfriend. It seems they had broken up before the accident, but her things are still at his apartment. The real best friend, Andrea calls Samantha to come to a club to celebrate her friend Rene's birthday. She goes and of course doesn't remember who Andrea is or Renee. Renee ends up being a guy...and her lover. So, we find out Samantha was a bad person before the amnesia. She later tells Todd about who Renee really is, as he thought it was a co-worker girlfriend. The pilot is really interesting and has a lot of twists. It is not that funny, but has some great lines that will make you chuckle. I really like Frank the doorman. He has some great lines.

The second episode is about Samantha finding out what she does for a living. I think it is a bit funnier than the pilot, but again it is the story that makes it interesting. Maybe they should have made this a one-hour comedy, a la Ugly Betty? But still this is one of the best half-hour shows out there, just not truly a sitcom per say. Anyway, we find out in this episode that Samantha worked for a big corporation and was all work. She was pretty mean, too to her secretary. She also is very scared of elevators. When the company has a big meeting, they expect Samantha to be there. Her co-workers all thought she was in rehab and don't know she has amnesia. Andrea also works at the company it seems. We see more of Dena in this, as she has really become a friend now.

Will Samantha ever regain her memory? She has brief flashes of her past in each episode so far, so maybe slowly she will remember? But does she really want to, as she was a very bad person. Now she is Good Sam. Maybe she can fix her mistakes of the past. It is fun to compare Good Sam vs. Bad Sam.

Conclusion:

All Christina Applegate fans will love this show. Her male fans will be extremely pleased as both the pilot and second episode has her in nice outfits. A nice gold outfit in one of the scenes in the pilot and just in her black bra in a scene in episode two. But, unfortunately she doesn't wear that dress you saw her holding in a promo, when she says, "oh my god, do I have a daughter?"
While the show is not downright funny yet, it is still watchable with an interesting story. With Applegate starring, we are assured we will get some laughs in future episodes. The show will be sampled for sure and it will have the highest ratings for a sitcom this season because it will get a 20 million lead-in from Dancing with the Stars each week. The question is, can it survive and build an audience when Dancing has its break from December-March? Let's hope so, because we need a breakout sitcom hit! So don't forget to tune in this Monday to watch this new series. Don't give me the excuse that you forgot to. You don't have amnesia like Samantha Newly does.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 10/12/07

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Samantha Who Photo Gallery



    Solomon's Weekly Rant
    Saturday, October 13, 2007
    "ABC's Tricky Promos"
    By Solomon Davis

    I have been watching ABC a lot lately and I have noticed the creativity in their promos for their new shows. The reason I say they are creative is because the network is not telling you the entire story, just part of the story. For example, I was watching the promo for Pushing Daisies and I heard the voice-over mention that 27 million viewers watched the first episode. Now part of that was true because 27 million did tune in at some point to sample the premiere episode but the average for the entire hour was 13 million. So obviously ABC has decided to be a little tricky in promoting their new shows to get more viewers. ABC did the same thing with Caveman and Carpoolers when it was mentioned during the promo the Tuesday night 8pm hour was the top new hour of comedy. Then I realized that it's the only full hour of new comedy on any network which means that ABC once again tried to trick viewers into watching those particular shows. So maybe this is something all networks do but I can only talk about ABC since most of the shows I watch is on that network. By having these tricky promos, ABC may have to explain to viewers if one of these shows were to be canceled if they were doing so well in the ratings.

    My Weird TV Moments of the Week:
    Thursday, October 11, 2007: The Today Show Segment on "Secret Mommy Crushes"
    Friday, October 12, 2007: Kelly Ripa telling Janet Jackson on Live with Regis & Kelly, "I'm in love with you and want to marry you."

    Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

    DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.

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