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Star Christina Applegate looks ahead to what’s in store for her amnesiac heroine when one of last season’s few successful new shows returns for a second run.
In a TV season where practically every new series was cancelled, Samantha Who?, a sitcom about a girl suffering from amnesia, is one of the few shows that will be returning next fall. Reminiscent of Goldie Hawn’s 1987 comedy Overboard, Christina Applegate portrays Samantha Newly, a hit-and-run accident victim who, after eight days in a coma, wakes up with no idea who she is. As she sets out to rediscover herself, she has to confront the fact that she’s an alcoholic, having an affair with a married man, who hasn’t spoken with her parents in two years; a vain and selfish person, whose past persona is shown in flashbacks. For Applegate, it’s an actor’s dream role, “What I really love about this is I get to play two different characters – in every episode I get to be the bad Sam and the good Sam, and it’s a lot of fun for me to be able to do both. We have so many opportunities, like the scene in the AA, where Samantha is literally losing her mind and having a public breakdown, something pretty serious, and we put this silly spin on all of it. We look forward to doing those moments.”
Unlike her most famous sitcom, Married with Children, where she played teenage sex-symbol, Kelly Bundy, Samantha Who? is shot on film, without a studio audience. “It’s like doing a movie,” Applegate acknowledges. “You’ve got your camera and your setups, doing tons of shots all day, and long hours. For television it’s different, but I’ve been doing films for years too. So I feel very comfortable in that environment. The characters on Married with Children were so much bigger than life. The biggest difference between the two shows is the formula of writing a sitcom, everything has to be, setup, joke, setup, joke. And you don’t get as much time to really get into the story, because it has to keep the attention of those 200 people who are sitting there. What I love about this forum is that we do get to really be human-beings and have human-being conversations, and then put a spin on it. But I think you have to know if it’s funny or not in your own self, because you don’t have the audience to depend on. So that’s why I call the producer, Donald Todd, every day and say, ‘Was that funny?’”
Propelling her to stardom, the actress admits that she never felt typecast by the role of Kelly Bundy because she was “not a dumb blonde. So when I would leave the set, she stayed there; it didn’t follow me anywhere in my personal life, or how I thought about my life. I’ve always had my eye very singly on what I wanted in my life, and I wasn’t going to let that deter me in any way, shape or form. It was an amazing experience, and without it I wouldn’t know the first thing about comedy. I have such respect for that character, but you have to leave your characters behind and move forward.”
by Judy Sloane
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