The scene that sold Jean Smart on the role of the mother in "Samantha Who?" was not a tender, touching moment between parent and child.
Instead, it came in the pilot when her character, Regina, asked her daughter, Samantha, played by Christina Applegate, to re-enact waking up from a coma because she missed videotaping it, and it wasn't for the sentimental reasons one might expect.
Regina wanted to submit it to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edi-tion."
"I thought that spoke volumes" about the comedy, Smart said.
As "Samantha Who?" resumes its second season after a hiatus, viewers are sure to see the continued impact of Samantha's amnesia on her relationship with her mom.
"They certainly have gotten a chance to understand each other better. My character has been given a (second) chance," Smart said. "I think Regina felt she has never been the best mother."
Smart chatted about her character, her thoughts on what makes good television and more.
Q. How did you get this role?
A. They were interested in me, and they made the offer, which is always nice. Not having to go in and audition is always sort of flattering, although sometimes you want to go in and audition. ... The part was written originally as a little gray-haired old lady of 65, so I don't know how they got around to me.
Q. Is Regina a fun character to play?
A. I think sometimes people that are self-absorbed (and) who don't realize it can kind of be funny characters to play and watch, but I think also they have written in a strong core of how much I love my daughter even if I don't always like her.
Q. A lot of times parent roles in comedy can be relegated to bit parts. What's it like to be a little more fleshed out?
A. It's frustrating often to read things where suddenly you're the parent of the star of the show (and) you either have to be an extremely strange character or some extreme thing or you are dull as dust and barely visible. So it's nice to have something that's funnier and something that's more true to life.
Q. Do you think it's difficult for Regina to watch her daughter start over while she's in the same place she was before?
A. I think that's why she decided to start (in) real estate. ... Regina didn't go to college. She didn't go the "young single gal in the city" career route and all that kind of thing. She met and married her husband young, and so I suppose, like a lot of people, there would be that feeling of, "Gee, what did I miss out on?"
Q. People had been talking about the death of the sitcom. What do you think the future of the 22-minute comedy is?
A. I don't think of ("Samantha Who?") as a sitcom, but I certainly don't think the sitcom ... is dead at all, or I hope it won't be. I'm sure it'll make a comeback. The bottom line is, if something is funny and you have good characters, people will watch it. I don't think that the format has anything to do with it.