Christina Applegate first made her name as flaky, trampy Kelly Bundy on Married With Children, but for our money, her signature role is Sue Ellen Crandell in Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, the early-'90s bad-girl-makes-good gem that has traditionally played the Tab to Adventures in Babysitting's Coke Classic in the "overmatched teen girls in charge of younger children" genre. ...Yes, said genre consists of...those two movies. That isn't the point. The point is that we love DTMTBD, and we love Applegate because of it. We're happy to see her in quality comedy fare like Anchorman and guest shots on Friends; we're bummed out when she's saddled with crappy stuff like The Sweetest Thing and Jesse, the last sitcom she tried to carry.
Now Applegate's back in primetime with Samantha Who?, playing the eponymous shallow bizzotch who must rebuild her life after a hit-and-run leaves her with retrograde amnesia. Is the show worth watching? Will it do well? Hard to say -- but in our opinion, it all depends on how it stacks up in a head-to-head with Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. Let's dig in, shall we?
Project Title As Complete Sentence
Samantha Who?: Interrogative fragment
Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead: Imperative; complete sentence
Heartwarming Roman A Clef Opportunities For Applegate Character
SW: Applegate bonks head, loses memory, realizes she was a bad person pre-memory loss (cheated on boyfriend, mean-girled childhood pal, treated members of service sector like crap); tries to rebuild as nicer person
DTMTBD: Applegate fails to report death of babysitter to mother, gets job, realizes she was a bad daughter pre-demise of babysitter (didn't appreciate mom's contributions, big-footed younger siblings, failed to stay on top of dirty dishes); tries to support family as more maternal person
Winner: Neither premise is terribly realistic; SW gets the edge for marginally less cartoonish execution
Leading Man/Love Interest
SW: Barry Watson, sporting a decent haircut
DTMTBD: Josh Charles, sporting an all-white ice-cream-man outfit
Winner: We love us some Charles, but you have to give Watson credit -- he's working off his 7th Heaven debt like a mofo, so this one's a draw
SW: Jean Smart -- loopy, obsessed with using Sam's accident as an entrée to an Extreme Home Makeover spot