Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (4th November 2008).
The Show

There are varying degrees of cute; ranging everywhere from mildly amusingly-cute to wildly over the top cutsey that is annoyingly overbearing. After nearly having a cute-attack in the brilliant “Wall-E” (2008), I wasn’t sure if I was ready for any more cute during the year. Even though I think my cute-ometer was nearing maximum, the overwhelming attempts at cute-styled humor pushes ABC’s “Samantha Who?” (2007-Present) into the type of annoyingly cutesy-comedy that’s hard to recover from. While cute can be adorably enjoyable, this deep cutesy territory where Meg Ryan rules as supreme overlord is difficult to enjoy and can be especially unsavory.

The basic premise is almost like a cutesy-fied version of “Momento” (1999) with Christina Applegate playing amnesiac Sam Newly, who, after waking up from an eight day coma, has suddenly found her memory of her previous lifestyle completely erased. After finding out that she was cheating on her boyfriend and being a terrifying and mean person in the office place, Sam decides it’s time to try and start over with the blank slate that her sudden memory loss has provided her. But look out, every time she tries to set things right, some kind of quirky error sends things awry, usually combined with some remembrances of her previous action that either inspire her to set things straight or try to change who she is.

Applegate herself has come a long way from being just the daughter on “Married with Children” (1987-1997) and plays up her character well, fulfilling the role that’s been set out for her. The same goes for much of the rest of the cast, everyone does a good job of living up to these cutesyer-than-life characters that have a tendency to ham it up to the point of my own frustration, with the exception of Frank the Doorman played by Tim Russ, who seems to play a sassy version of Tuvok from “Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001). Much of my annoyance with the show stems from problems with the writing whose situations get on my nerves from trying so incredibly hard to hit the cute-funny combination while missing or pushing the point too far. While there are a handful of funny jokes thrown in, they’re too few and far between for the 15 episode first season to really be endearing or truly watchable.

Overall the show is a definite must own for those who worship at the altar of the Meg Ryan-romantic-comedy styled role of a cutesy short-haired blonde(ish) woman in quirky-comedic situation. But for everyone else, it’s a show probably worth passing on unless you need a fix of cutesy comedy in which case just a single episode could well sustain you for a year.

Here’s a rundown of the episodes included on “Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season” 2-disc set:

- "Pilot" (22:29)
- "The Job" (21:26)
- "The Wedding" (21:34)
- "The Virgin" (21:34)
- "The Restraining Order" (21:34)
- "The Hypnotherapist" (21:34)
- "The Hockey Date" (21:35)
- "The Car" (21:34)
- "The Break-Up" (21:29)
- "The Girlfriend" (21:35)
- "The Boss" (21:35)
- "The Butterflies" (21:35)
- "The Gallery Show" (21:35)
- "The Affair" (21:16)
- "The Birthday" (21:29)

Video

The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, a nice signal of the movement for every last sitcom and television show to be filmed and released in widescreen. While the transfer is good for the most part, there are unfortunately some odd problems in the quality of the transfer where there’s some pixelization problems with the backgrounds where things don’t seem as clear as they should.

Audio

Presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the audio sounds fine and the transfer keeps the audio sounding fairly clean and clear. For the most part the production levels are good and the use of music suits the tone of the show in the mix of poppy/sappy songs to shoot for comedic or heart-touching effect.
Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

In the 2-disc set is relatively slim on special features, featuring an audio commentary, a blooper reel, deleted scenes and bonus trailers.

DISC ONE:

The only actual special feature here is an audio commentary track on Epsiode 1 “Pilot” with actress Christina Applegate and executive producers Donald Todd and Peter Traugott. For the most part the trio does a good job of talking through the entire episode, mostly complimenting each other on the acting, direction, improvisation etc. A nice compliment to the episode, though not very heavy on any behind the scenes insights.

There are also some start-up bonus trailers available on the disc:

- “Private Practice: The Complete First Season” runs for 55 seconds.
- “Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season” runs for 1 minute and 5 seconds.
- “Grey’s Anatomy: The Complete Fourth Season” runs for 32 seconds.
- “Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete First Season” runs for 1 minute 41 seconds.

DISC TWO:

First up is the blooper reel track titled “Samantha Whoops?” which runs a brief 1 minute and 9 seconds. Like most bloopers it’s typical joking around on set with a lot of short cuts between different actors just breaking into laughter.

Finally are the deleted scenes with optional introductions by executive producer Donald Todd:

- “You Don’t Need A Friend Like That” runs for 59 seconds, Samantha and Andrea drop by Dena’s house so Sam can try to smooth things out.
- “Or Maybe a Helper Monkey” runs for 1 minute 21 seconds, Todd talks about how incredibly hard it is to cut a scene with the word ‘monkey’ in it, while in the scene Sam tries to light a cigarette using the stove.
- “That was the Old Butt” runs for 2 minutes, Todd explains how the scene looks off without the voiceover, Sam drifts into the office after a series of complications.
- “Is That a Snake?” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds, Andrea and Sam plot ways to get rid of Cholë.
- “I’m in a Good Mood” runs for 44 seconds, Samantha rants to Frank and he says something sassy.
- “You Don’t Think I Can Get Him” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds, Todd talks about how hard it is to cut scenes with women’s underwear, while in the scene Sam and Andrea shop for lingerie.
- “I Wanna Have a Birthday Party” runs for 55 seconds. Sam and her mom debate when her birthday party should be held.

There’s also a large collection of bonus trailers:

- “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season” runs for 37 seconds.
- “Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Second Season” runs for 1 minute 18 seconds.
- “Miramax Films” spot runs for 2 minutes and 37 seconds.
- “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” runs for 2 minutes and 8 seconds.
- “Wall-E” runs for 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
- “Ugly Betty” spot runs for 32 seconds.
- “Samantha Who?” spot runs for 32 seconds.

This set is packaged with a 6-page booklet called “The Good & Bad: Love, Life & Career” written by the characters of “Samantha Who?” talking about love and relationships.

Packaging

The 2-disc set comes in an amaray case in a carboard slip-cover.

Overall

The Show: D+ Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: D- Overall: C-

 


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