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Archive for the ‘Samantha Who?’ Category

Show: Samantha Who?

Character: Samantha Newly

Played Oh-So-Winningly By: Christina Applegate

In a Nutshell: There are two Samantha Newly’s, actually. The first is who Sam used to be-  the selfish, bitchy, cutthroat 30 year-old vice president of a real estate company who lives to torment the little people who deign to live at her feet. Fortunately, for all of mankind, that Sam suffers a hit-and-run accident and then retrograde amnesia, forcing her to start living with a clean slate. Without all the hang-ups that led her to be the world’s biggest bully, Sam is now as sweet and guileless as can be (though not as “special” as that photo on the left would suggest), with the occasional horrifying flash of her old self. As the (short-lived. I hate you, ABC) series progresses, Sam is faced with more and more memories and constantly struggles with being the kind of good person she wants to be, all while traces of her old selfishness and vanity keep popping up at every turn. Along for the ride are her long-suffering ex-boyfriend/roommate Todd, old friend Dena who is well-meaning but exactly that type of woman you avoid at the dog park, her best friend Andrea (who loved the old, bitchy Sam), and her awesomely hilarious parents Howard and Regina (Jean Smart, who is on the list “Actors Who Should Star in Absolutely Everything”). Oh, and her doorman Frank who absolutely reviles her after years of brutal mistreatment from the old Sam.

Why We’ll Never Forget (Too much?): Oh, SAM. A high-concept like this could’ve been such a disaster but Samantha Who? made it work. A lot of that credit goes to the strong writing and the fantastic supporting characters but don’t underestimate Christina Applegate’s performance. As Sam, she’s an old-fashioned screwball comedy ingenue (I mean, really. Shouldn’t she have been forced to leave Ingenue Town a decade ago? Apparently not), eagerly hopping through the fast-paced episodes and the comical misunderstandings and embarrassing situations that hit her from every direction. In Applegate’s hands, Sam is adorable and funny and nowhere near as cloying as she could be- the flashes of horrible old Sam (with her pin-straight hair and killer short skirts, bad Sam actually looks a lot like you’d imagine Kelly Bundy would turn out if she had money. Maybe she should work for a fashion designer! I hear referee-style school uniforms are hot these days) are definitely a help, especially when they lead to new Sam’s equally horrified reaction to them.

Favorite Moments: Do yourself a favor and just watch. everything.

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by Judi

It might seem like we’re stuck in the past over here in NTO Headquarters, throwing around clips of Bewitched and Beverly Hills 90210 and references to My So-Called Life and such but make no mistake- we’re just as obsessed with the new TV shows as we are the classics. That’s why, today, we’re focusing on the Top 5 Best Comedies that are on right now (not literally this second but currently airing new episodes or in production.)

Ok, that’s one of the reasons why I picked this topic. The other reason is that I need a little help here. Last night, for my birthday, a friend and I decided to see a Second City show. Second City, as you may know, is a Chicago institution. It’s a sketch comedy/improv training ground that’s birthed the careers of most of the past and present casts of Saturday Night Live and comedy stars including Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Alan Arkin, Harold Ramis, Gilda Radner and Tina Fey SO I HAD VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. What I was NOT expecting was to leave before the third act because I could just not take the awfulness anymore. That skit that Millie puts on about how drinking is not cool in the Freaks & Geeks cafeteria? Better than what I saw last night. And apparently it was just me because the drunk Midwesterners who surrounded me ATE IT UP WITH A SPOON, the skit with the girl singing a song about Chicago club girls (“they’ll give you a blow job for a free drink”. Clever), the skeezy Italian guy trying to sell a Sopranos-esque health insurance policy (complete with gold chain, red sunglasses and shirt wide open- oh yes. Apparently, it’s 1985 again.), the fart jokes, FART JOKES…

I could go on about it but I’m honestly so depressed that THIS is where the best & brightest of our future comedy stars are heading that I just want to talk about something good before my head explodes. (Also the fact that the tickets were TWENTY DOLLARS EACH I WANT MY MONEY BACK). Cough-hack-cough.

Top Five Comedies to Watch Now Before It’s Too Late

5. Better Off Ted (2009 – Present)- Currently on Hiatus- ABC

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My favorite new show of the last year, Better Off Ted introduced us to the slightly off-beat world that exists within global corporation Veridian Dynamics. It’s a brilliant setting for a comedy that’s willing to zing off into bizarre directions, since VD (I’m sure that’s not a coincidence) is always working to create the newest must-have product, be it bullet-proof dinnerware or an untested “energy patch” that sends an unwitting colleague into La La Land. Narrator Ted is bland but a good, steady foil for the nuttiness around him, the lab guys are perfect, awkward and brimming with nerd-love for both their work and each other, the perky love interest is made interesting by being just a LITTLE too crazy in an all-too-believable way and, of course, Portia DeRossi as Veronica. She’s kind of like a young, hot Mr. Burns if Mr. Burns ever dumps the power plant and sets up shop in corporate.

4. New Adventures of Old Christine (2006 – Present)- Wednesdays on CBS

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE

Of all the networks, CBS is the channel that has so stringently clung to the old-fashioned sitcom format (Two & A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother) while other networks drift toward striking comedy gold in newfangled formats like mockumentaries (NBC), high-concept (ABC) and cartoons created by Seth McFarlane (FOX). And while any of the CBS comedies will do in a pinch when you’re looking for a little laugh-track comfort (all except Two & A Half Men which is basically unwatchable), it’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Christine that’s the most underrated.  The writing is great, they don’t rely on the cuteness of little Ritchie at all to win scenes, and honestly, even without Julia, the supporting cast (Wanda Sykes, Hamish Linklater, and the guy from S.H.I.E.L.D.) could stand on its own just fine.

But really, you’ve got to watch it for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Her manic energy, her endless hang-ups and neurosis, the way she absolutely crushes every scene and every line in it. She’s always been a pro but her work here proves that she’s undoubtedly the best sitcom actor at work right now and that you need her in your life. Just watch her flop around in her airplane seat before takeoff, cranky for a glass of red wine (“Ma’am, we haven’t even closed the door yet), all but incapable of getting through the day as a functional adult. Comedy heaven.

3. 30 Rock (2006 – Present)- Thursdays on NBC

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It’s been tough for 30 Rock to stay consistent and it’s not all their fault. The first two seasons were so knock-out perfect and yet, despite all the award wins and critical love, the show still flounders in the ratings. So sure, they started relying on heavy-hitters Alec Baldwin, Kenneth the Page and Tracy Morgan, all but staying out of the writer’s room for the last season and tossing in A-List guest stars whenever possible (Jennifer Aniston! Salma Hayek! Steve Martin! Alan Alda! OPRAH!).

Now that the show has nabbed its third-straight Emmy for Best Comedy Series, maybe we can get back to business. Because the best of 30 Rock rests on Liz Lemon’s buckling shoulders as she tries to get her variety show out there every Friday night, despite the legitimately insane talent around her (Tracy & Jenna), the idiots (Kenneth, the writers) who launch milkshakes and fax machines at her and the meddling of her overwhelmingly Alpha Male corporate honcho boss/unlikely best friend Jack Donaghy.

2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)- Thursdays on FX

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For a while, I was worried about Sunny. How could a show so perverse, so dark and unwieldy  survive after we become so used to it? Will it still be as funny when it fails to shock us (accustomed as we are to not only the gang’s absolutely reprehensible moral code but also Charlie’s inability to read, Dee’s willingness to have sex with anybody, even an ancient Korean man for a microbrew recipe, Dennis’ extreme vanity and Mac’s delusion that he’s a macho tough guy).

If last night’s intervention episode is any indication- YUP. Still BLINDINGLY funny. Danny DeVito’s hacking on the sidewalk as he guzzles wine from a soda can, his hair all standing up, as he gets ready to nail a recent widow is funny in itself but it’s Mac’s reaction that just killed me. That’s why the show works- as AWFUL as they all are (at first, the cast was compared to Seinfeld’s but Jerry & Company would run in the other direction if they ever stumbled into Paddy’s Bar), they’re all deluded enough to believe they’re good guys, thus they get to act horrified by each other, superior to each other. It just works so well and you don’t even have to cringe because they always get their comeuppance and it’s always so so good.

1. The Office (2005 – Present)- Thursdays on NBC

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While The Office isn’t really as good as it used to be, it’s still miles ahead of the competition, thanks to its supporting players. Carell, Fisher, Wilson and Krasinski are all fine and good but, for me, the best of the show remains with Phyllis, Kevin, Angela, Oscar, Andy, Kelly, Ryan, Stanley, Meredith and Creed. Without them, the show could get weighed down by Michael Scott’s gaffes, Dwight’s not-so-shocking-anymore one-liners, and Pam and Jim’s adorable smugness. Just think of last season’s fire drill and Angela throwing her cat into the ceiling and try not to laugh. Or the dance party episode as Kelly gets down. ANYTHING Meredith says and the immediate horrified expression on the person next to her. Creed’s serial-killer-like reveals to the camera. Stanley’s fits of rage and his deadpan, sour-faced indifference. Basically anything Andy says and does (thank you, Daily Show, for sending him to us and Carell too).

Adding to all that, The Office remains in spirit as close as it can to the heart of its British forefather, not shying away from truly dark, difficult moments, crushingly sad realities or letting anyone forget that none of these guys (not even impish Jim) is perfect in the least. It’s still the smartest, funniest show on TV right now. Limitless paper in a paperless world.

Best Newcomer: Community (2009)

Best Recently Departed: Samantha Who? (Canceled 2009)

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by Judi

Whenever a beloved TV show ventures on location, it’s a risky business. Aside from the shooting challenges as opposed to the safety of a soundstage, we ask ourselves questions like- do we really want to see Roseanne in natural lighting?

The answer, of course, is sometimes. Because when it pays off, you’ve got yourself a classic episode. And when it doesn’t, well, nobody but us remembers those episodes anyway so no harm, no foul.

So, without furder ado, Next Time On presents our Top 5 TV Vacations. And I get to go first this time.

1. Absolutely Fabulous– “France”

Being fabulous is exhausting, sweetie. So when the going gets tough and your prim mother keeps showing up and your insufferably uptight daughter is just always in the way of you popping another pill, the only recourse is to take your best friend and flee to the south of France. Of course, it would be helpful if you first learned the language. Otherwise, you might end up staying in the grody caretaker’s cottage instead of that swanky hotel where you made reservations. Luckily, a little cocaine goes a long way to improving a ping-pong match and nothing screams class like stumbling out of a vineyard, piss drunk and convinced that someone’s stolen your steering wheel.

2. Beverly Hills 90210– American Girls in Paris episodes

There that French language goes, getting in the way of our good time. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you go to a swanky restaurant and order brain. Delicious. But hey, at least Dean Cain is there! And he’s dumb enough to actually believe you’re French! How do you say “score” in the language of love? Maybe we should ask Dylan and Kelly, who use Brenda’s time in Paris to get it on, the way only your best friend and boyfriend can (I’m still harboring resentment for this, apparently.) But hey, as long as it all leads to this memorable scene in 90210 history, the trip was totally worth it.

3. 30 Rock– “Cleveland”

It’s hard to decide which is better- the scene where Liz Lemon and her boyfriend Floyd decide to take a mini-break to Cleveland or the scenes where they’re actually in Cleveland. I’ll take all the scenes actually- from the guy on the New York City street who spits in Liz’s mouth and the skipping woman who gets shoved into a heap of garbage all the way to Liz revealing that she did some catalog modeling while in Cleveland, prompting Jenna to snap, “We’re all models west of the Allegheny.”

Be honest. After petting a real police horse, getting first pick at the hot dog cart, and lunch with Little Richard, wouldn’t you want to flee to the Cleve? Even movie stars like Tracy Jordan come to Cleveland to get away.

4. I Love Lucy– “LA at Last!”

This is the LA of my dreams, really. The kind where you might just run into Eve Arden or William Holden at The Brown Derby. While the rest of us suffer through the dregs of LA traffic, smog, and Paris Hilton haunting the IVY, Lucy gets to shove a pie in William Holden’s face and then form a disguise by fashioning a fake nose, only to set fire to it and put it out in a coffee cup. And that’s just the first day.

5. Samantha Who?– “Out of Africa” (And by Africa, we mean Miami)

I’m really, really going to miss Samantha Who?, tragically cut down before its proper time. And I really, really loved this episode. Amnesiac Sam decides that she’s “graduated” into her new life, her life as a good person, and once and for all has distanced herself from the slutty, selfish bitch she was before being mowed down by a car. Except, well, she gets super drunk with her friends celebrating said graduation and then sleeps with her ex-boyfriend. And then gets so freaked out that she decides to go to Africa and build something for children.

Except she gets freaked out by all the shots she needs for Africa and the bugs (“Have you ever seen a scorpion? They’re like spiders with KNIVES.”) and chickens out completely. And then goes to Miami with her friends instead. Except while she’s getting her tan on, there’s a violent outburst in Chad, where she’s supposed to be, and her mother (the incomparable Jean Smart) reacts in typical, deadpan fashion. “She’s dead. I know it. My little girl is dead.”

It’s a great episode.  Stupid network executives.

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I wasn’t a Married With Children fan. I thought the opening credits were gross and even as a pre-teen, the show struck me as incredibly depressing. Plus I always thought it was also gross that Bud kind of wanted to bang his sister. And if I’m going to watch Ed O’Neill in anything, it’s going to be “Dutch“. End of tirade.

So, unlike the rest of the America, I didn’t really fall in love with Christina Applegate until “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead,” a movie that, to this day, inspires me to do a happy dance when I see that it’s on TV (which it rarely is. Can’t we trade in at least ONE of the playbacks of “What a Girl Wants” on Oxygen and sub this instead? It’s got a fashion show in it too!)

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Christina’s career could’ve gone the path of, say, Alyssa Milano who has done decently well for herself in her own B/C List way (And also was in one of my favorite crapbag movies ever inspired by a video game, “Double Dragon“, which is a post in itself. Bailey as super hero? Hilarious. Also hilarious- casting an Asian and non-Asian as brothers and thinking we wouldn’t notice. 1994 was retarded.) Instead, after watching her on Ellen yesterday it occurred to me that Christina somehow transformed herself into a moderately legit star. And I could not be happier about it.

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Fact- “The Sweetest Thing” is a great movie, it is and I won’t apologize for saying that out loud much less writing it. There are very few girl-buddy comedies out there and this one works, if only for the easy camaraderie between Cameron Diaz, Applegate and little Selma Blair.

Question- What exactly is that accent in “Anchorman” supposed to be anyway? Trying to figure it out is part of the fun.

Fact- Survived Dane Cook movie unscathed. Thank God no one actually saw it or cares about Dane Cook anymore.

Fact- Kicked breast cancer’s ass.

Fact- Was on Broadway in “Sweet Charity.” So MULTI-TALENTED.

Bringing us all the way around to the point which is- you should really be watching “Samantha Who?” There is no excuse for you NOT to watch it. Sookie from “Gilmore Girls” is in it. JEAN SMART is in it. I now feel justified in thinking the guy from “7th Heaven” is attractive, as opposed to feeling slightly guilty about it. It’s very funny and the concept is kind of adorable in a way that only Christina Applegate can make it adorable- a horrible slut wakes up from a coma with no idea who she is and now that she’s a blank slate, she’s the nicest girl next door ever… who constantly finds out what a bitch she used to be. Good times.

It’s on Thursday nights now and you can watch free episodes online at ABC.com. Like I said, you have no excuses. Go forth, watch and be happy.

– Judi

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