Picks and Pans Review: Samantha Who?

updated 10/22/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/2007 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC, Mondays, 9:30 p.m. ET

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

COMEDY

Until now, there's been little to laugh about this fall season. So let's all be grateful for the hit-and-run driver who put Samantha Newly (Christina Applegate) in an eight-day coma and left her with amnesia, unable to recognize the menagerie of crazies who claim to be her friends and family. To her horror, she realizes that her past self was about as likable as Leona Helmsley: Samantha was an alcoholic who cheated on her live-in boyfriend (Barry Watson), racked up $30,000 in credit card debt and hadn't spoken to her parents in two years.

Coming to grips with the best and worst of herself, Applegate is divine, but the show's real MVP is self-absorbed mom Jean Smart (24), who's first seen videotaping her comatose daughter in the hopes of landing a slot on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Samantha's second episode doesn't quite maintain the delightfully breezy pace of its pilot, but I'm still hooked.

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