When Samantha wakes up from a coma, she has no idea who she is. Samantha (Christina Applegate) has retrograde amnesia (she has general knowledge, but no stored memories) and a collection of quirky characters around her, who don’t quite understand her condition. There’s Regina and Howard Newly (Jean Smart, Kevin Dunn), Samantha’s parents that don’t bother to tell Samantha that they haven’t spoken to her in two years. Then there’s childhood friend, Dena (Melissa McCarthy) who hasn’t actually been Samantha’s friend since the seventh grade, and who came across Samantha in the hospital, only to stick around for the sake of Samantha’s parents.
There’s the other friend, Andrea (Jennifer Esposito), who is part of Samantha’s pre-coma life. She represents the bad side of Samantha, and seems rather proud of that role. There’s the doorman, Frank (Tim Russ) at her old apartment who Samantha never talked to until now. And, of course, there’s also Todd (Barry Watson ), Samantha’s boyfriend. He’s kind and genuinely interested in Samantha, despite one minor detail: He broke up with her before her accident.
Sound complicated? It’s actually not. While the plot has lots of layers that could get tangled up in all the sticky little details, “Samantha Who?” manages to flow nicely between post-coma Samantha (the good daughter, good friend, good girlfriend) and old Samantha (not so good, in fact, down right bad).Throughout the show, Samantha has flashes of memory, where she recalls her old, meaner self getting into, or causing some sort of trouble. The flashes nicely tie into what’s occurring in her present-day life.
Christina Applegate is perfect as Samantha, and humorously portrays the two sides of a woman who is struggling to balance who she was and who she is/wants to be. Along the way, Andrea tries to bring out the old Samantha (sometimes succeeding) while Dena continues to keep Samantha’s good side accounted for. The relationship Samantha has with Todd (as well as the other characters) has it’s ups and downs, but it’s interesting to see the characters come to terms with who Samantha was in the past and the kind of person she wants to remain. It’s particularly funny when Samantha realizes she owns her apartment and tries to live alone, only to end up back with her parents for awhile. Samantha does offer voiceovers at the beginning and end of the episodes, but rather than getting in the way, they add a nice intro and bookend.
The cast have great chemistry and are enjoyable to watch, especially McCarthy as goodhearted and hilarious Dena, and Russ as Frank, the wise doorman who doesn’t want to have a relationship with Samantha, but continues to help her by telling her what she needs to hear. Some of the sillier scenes take place between Samantha and her parents. Smart (who just won an Emmy for her performance on the show) and Dunn are perfect as her loveable, imperfect, somewhat out there parents. Thankfully, there’s a nice balance between the wacky side of “Samantha Who?” and the sweeter side, that makes this series a wonderful addition to primetime.
P- 1 15 Oct 07 Pilot
2. 1- 2 22 Oct 07 The Job
3. 1- 3 29 Oct 07 The Wedding
4. 1- 4 5 Nov 07 The Virgin
5. 1- 5 12 Nov 07 The Restraining Order
6. 1- 6 19 Nov 07 The Hypnotherapist
7. 1- 7 26 Nov 07 The Hockey Date
8. 1- 8 3 Dec 07 The Car
9. 1- 9 10 Dec 07 The Break-Up
10. 1-10 7 Apr 08 The Girlfriend
11. 1-11 14 Apr 08 The Boss
12. 1-12 21 Apr 08 The Butterflies
13. 1-13 28 Apr 08 The Gallery Show
14. 1-14 5 May 08 The Affair
15. 1-15 12 May 08 The Birthday
VIDEO: "Samantha Who?" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentations are generally excellent, as the series almost always appeared sharp and detailed, with fine details in the images often clearly visible. Some slight artifacting was spotted in a few scenes, but no edge enhancement or other faults were seen. Colors looked natural at all times, with fine saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Samantha Who?" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's audio remains dialogue-driven, with little use of (or little use for, given the material) the surrounds. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and effects/ambience.
This is a brief collection of clips of the cast laughing. While there’s not much to this bonus feature, it’s a nice glimpse behind the scenes at the cast having fun together.
Here, you’re given the option to watch the deleted scenes with an introduction by Executive Producer, Donald Todd or without the introduction. Todd offers why the scene was shot in the first place, and why, in some cases, they realized it wasn’t necessary. The scenes are rather short, but enjoyable to watch. Some scenes are fun like, “Or Maybe A Helper Monkey” but unfortunately, as Todd points out, the scene made the episode too long. Turns out a lot of the scenes weren’t “bad” scenes, but rather just scenes that couldn’t be fit into the 21 minutes they were allowed. This is a fun look at some scenes that didn’t quite make it.
Commentary with Christina Applegate and executive producers Donald Todd and Peter Traugott. This is one of the more interesting commentaries as far as DVD bonus features go. There’s some initial discussion about who came up with the idea and how retrograde amnesia is real. One of the first laughs goes to Christina Applegate who says, “I hate when we shoot outside….no one looks good”. It’s refreshing to hear someone on a commentary actually be a bit honest for a change. They also talk about scenes that had to be cut for time, and those that were cut because they “sucked”. Again, the honesty is refreshing. They also share an interesting tidbit about how Samantha’s apartment is the same apartment used by Barry Watson (who plays Todd) on “What About Brian”. This is a fun commentary, which makes you wish there were more commentaries on this DVD set. There aren’t any lengthy lags in conversation here, and everyone has something interesting to add. Definitely recommend taking a listen to this commentary.
Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Second Season
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Final Thoughts: "Samantha Who?" is an enjoyably goofy, sweet series, with an ace performance from Applegate. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras. Recommended.