Comedy Impact Report '08: Tube Titans

Twenty years after playing a farcically vacant sibling on “Married … With Children,” Christina Applegate has blossomed into a nimble Emmy-nominated leading lady — and a behind-the-scenes force, too — with ABC’s “Samantha Who?”

As co-exec producer on the season’s highest-ranked new sitcom and new scripted series, the lead actress helped shape her amnesiac bad-girl-turning-good into an endearing contemporary woman, deftly blending romantic appeal, verbal smarts and physical slapstick.

“That gave us the freedom and space to really play as much as we can … and throw some Lucy in there, too,” says Applegate, who gets to cut loose in flashbacks, playing hot stuff as her naughty old persona, then return to common-sense relatability as her idealistic but wobbly post-coma duckling.

Surrounding her with sharp-cookie gals — Emmy winner Jean Smart and saucy Jennifer Esposito — made “Samantha Who?” feel even fresher in today’s male-dominated comedy landscape.

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