I recently decided to give “Samantha Who?” a try after reading some really positive things about it. Apparently—in addition to Jean Smart winning an Emmy for the mother role—Christina Applegate earned two Emmy nominations for her role of quirky amnesiac. After Samantha (Applegate) wakes from a coma, she spends her time trying to not just piece together her life, but make amends for the person she used to be. Apparently, pre-accident Sam wasn’t very nice.
Though it took me four episodes to get into it, I do enjoy Applegate in this role. Despite the fact that she can’t seem to learn her lesson about lying and manipulation, she’s a major improvement over pre-accident Sam, who we occasionally get unflattering flashes of, exposing Applegate’s range to be more extensive than I ever guessed.
The entire cast is also entertaining. Aside from Smart, who is hilarious, there’s also Tim Russ, who plays the dry doorman/reluctant friend Frank, Kevin Dunn (the dad from “Transformers”) and, of course, Melissa McCarthy. I haven’t seen her in a role this refreshing since “Gilmore Girls.” Though I loved her in “Bridesmaids,” she has charm completely unrelated to playing butch, poorly-dressed, weirdoes.
The show also isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself as one character demonstrates when he claims in response to Samantha’s predicament, “Amnesia doesn’t exist. It’s just a cheap and lazy story device.”
Though the show sometimes does a good job of establishing Sam as a realistic amnesiac, it completely misses opportunities at times and seems more akin to a female version of “My Name is Earl.” That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes this causes consistency issues. For instance, in one episode, Sam compares herself to Lucy Ricardo, yet two episodes later can’t solve the crossword “I BLANK Lucy” because of her condition.
The episodes also don’t draw a clear line on the romantic side. One episode Timothy Olyphant appears as millionaire Winston Funk who’s totally in love with Sam, just to completely disappear without any explanation what-so-ever and return in season two as Billy Zane! Then Samantha clearly agrees to a date with her to ex-boyfriend/roommate Todd (Barry Watson) in one episode, only to date a musician in the next with no explanation of why she and Todd aren’t dating.
I also don’t buy for a second that anyone would let an ex-boyfriend live in their apartment scot-free, especially with a new girlfriend! So needless to say, it’s best to watch this show with disbelief completely suspended and just enjoy the humor.
But there are certainly some throw-away episodes in the mix, if you’re a cherry-picker like me. You could most-likely skip “The Car,” “So I Think I Can Dance” “The Farm” and “The Dream Job” without missing anything important to the plot. In fact, I encourage it.