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What I Watched Last Night

Life's tough when you're an amnesiac. Your family and friends are complete strangers, you have no idea whether you're one of those people who get along well with a bottle of Goldschlager, or even if you like to top off a good meal with a nut log from Stuckey's. It's even tougher, though, when you're an amnesiac who begins to discover you're a shallow, vain, pitiful excuse for a human being. But you're pretty hot, so that kind of takes the edge off people not liking you behind your back.

That was the situation in Monday night's premiere of Samantha Who? on ABC. It's one of those sitcoms that's smarter than a sitcom reasonably should be, which is why critics or viewers more accustomed to getting a pie in the face might find this show troublesome, or not even funny. In fact, I'm not sure Samantha sven ought to be called a sitcom. A fitting alternate title might be Amnesiac In The City because it shares essentially the same mood and atmosphere as a once-popular show about four women who end up spending more time talking about sex in the city than actually getting any.

Samantha Newly (Christina Applegate) is mowed down in a hit and run accident that leaves her in a coma. She awakens eight days later with retrograde amnesia, which leaves her able to function but unable to recall any personal memories. So Samantha has to be walked through her old-new/new-old life by her mom and dad (Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn), her party-girl sister Andrea (Jennifer Esposito), and her chubby and somewhat pathetic tag-along friend Dena (Melissa McCarthy).

As they go along, Samantha has no clue that she's an alcoholic, hasn't spoken to her parents in two years, and pathologically screwed around on her ex-boyfriend Todd (Barry Watson), who for some reason is still in her life. But she finds out firsthand, which accounts for Applegate spending the entire half-hour looking very befuddled.

How bad was Bad Sam before the brain fog set in? Bad enough for one of Todd's friends to leave a message on his answering machine suggesting that they find the guy who ran her down - and take him out for a drink. If anything, I think Todd would need to explain why he still insists on using an answering machine instead of the character of his friends. Come to think of it, even Frank the doorman (Tim Russ) at Todd's apartment building doesn't much like her either. I might be wrong, but I'd think it takes some doing to chronically piss off someone you see for only two seconds a day.

There's no laugh track or studio audience, which leads me to think Samantha was intended to be quietly amusing, not laugh-out-loud funny. And it is quietly amusing, including a segment where Sam gets kicked out of an AA meeting because she couldn't get the group's leader to believe that she doesn't know who she is because she's an amnesiac and not drunk, and was unconscious for eight days because she was in a coma, not a blackout.

To be sure, Samantha Who is an acquired taste that deserves more than one viewing, especially if you're one of those people more accustomed to the eye-candy Christina Applegate rather than the version who appears to be a candidate for that group of famous Hollywood actresses who have sworn off plastic surgery forever. The eye candy version did make a brief appearance in a scene from Sam's past, which proves that a girl's best friend is not a diamond or her cat - it's a flashback.

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Posted on October 17, 2007


MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.


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