Applegate boosts show's status on ABC

Showrunner Donald Todd likens it to year-around schooling.

After making a post-writers-strike push to close out their freshman campaign, the cast and producers on ABC laffer “Samantha Who?” had to stick around to make seven episodes for season two in order to beat possible SAG labor tumult.

“It’s hard to get everyone’s attention,” says Todd, noting the strange-feeling hiatus-time workload. “And we’ll probably be pushing through to January without a day off.”

Todd is also quick to point out that he doesn’t want to come off like he’s complaining — no matter what the juxtaposition, it’s darned nice to have a season two.

Not that there was ever too much concern once things got going. In its 15 airings, “Samantha Who?” averaged a 3.9 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 11.8 million viewers overall.

Pitched directly to the Alphabet by Irish novelist Cecelia Ahern, “This show is blessed with an amazing cast that knows how to make something stand out in today’s landscape,” Todd says.

That talent boost includes supporting players like Jean Smart, but it starts, first and foremost, Todd emphasizes, with star Christina Applegate, who after an original bout of reluctance, agreed to return to series television to play the title character of a quirky, well-meaning amnesiac slowly discovering that her prior behavior wasn’t always guided by the best of intentions.

“Once we got her onboard, that made (the series) a priority for the network and it made it easier to get where we are,” Todd says. Applegate’s “ability to make both the comedy and the drama feel real, often simultaneously,” has been instrumental, he adds. “This show’s premise could be silly if it’s executed wrong on any level.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more