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October 9, 2015

For Samantha Who? to make it, it may need a makeover

by Jason Hughes, posted May 15th 2009 1:03PM
Christina ApplegateSamantha Who?, the little ABC-sitcom-that-could may be looking at a production overhaul if the network decides to stick with it into a third season. The big change would be shifting from the single-camera format it currently uses to a much cheaper multi-camera format. How I Met Your Mother is an example of a show that uses the multi-camera format, albeit without a studio audience, to great creative effect, so Samantha should be able to keep a lot of its quirky charm.

Cost cutting is a huge part of the network's plans this season as they mull over continuing with existing series. If switching to multi-camera on Samantha Who? can save $500,000 per episode, it might be worth doing. Samantha is one of those rare comedies these days that just works. It's funny without being provocative or shocking in anything it does. One could almost argue, but not very convincingly, that it's even good wholesome family entertainment ... with sex and alcohol and stuff.

Samantha is just finding its voice, and it really hit a nice stride this season. Plus, with seven episodes already in the can that never aired, ABC doesn't even have to film as many episodes to eke out a full season of it. Even more money saved. And the story can be told in very few sets: Sam's apartment, the front doors of her building, the coffee shop where she likes to hang out, her parent's house, and a bar. Five sets, one of which is a door and a hallway.

Or maybe just hire some guy off the street with a digital camcorder to follow Christina Applegate around and film everything she does. That's got to be way cheaper than having a state-of-the-art camera crew around. And he might even work for signed pictures, and some of her old shoes and ... um ... yeah, maybe that's not such a good idea after all. Multi-camera it is.

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The mistake was renewing this show for a second season. I watched the first and didn't understand the hype -- I certainly didn't understand why Jean Smart won an Emmy.

May 17 2009 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ABC has cancelled all our favorite shows. If a show is doing well, they just take it off the air and then put it on when nobody notices. The one show they got right was "Cavemen", which was no better or worse then "In the Motherhood" or Bob Saget's laughfest "Surviving Suburbia". Take "Samantha Who?" for instance. ABC buries it so it can't even be found and then starts a rumor that the remaining episodes will be scheduled sometime in the future. One of TV's best comedies with an all-star cast is treated like it was old reruns of "My Mother the Car". Which brings us back to "Cavemen", which is an example of ABC's brilliant comedy minds. One of the worst shows ever is now looking a lot better when stacked up against some of the other so-called comedies on ABC and elsewhere (did anybody laugh at Parks and Recreation on NBC...I thought "Southland" was funnier.) So what about the unseen episodes of "Cavemen". ABC can save some money and show them after "Dancing with the Stars" because people will watch anything after "Dancing With The Stars".

May 15 2009 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply



It's cheaper with more cameras just read the above links from Wikipedia

May 15 2009 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope they go 3 camera. I so enjoy the show. The writing is good and the women are wonderful.

May 15 2009 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's cheaper because you set up the set once and then move the 3 cameras. Usually you have one swing set which is a set just for that episode and put away or torn down. The rest are perminant sets.
When you shoot single camera you go on locations which require at least 15 teamsters, location manager & assistants, extra lighting, grips, caterers, location site rental fees, and on and on.
The set is lit once on stage it does not require all the of those personnel.
The savings is tremendous.

May 15 2009 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay, technical question: why are multi-camera shows cheaper than single-camera? To me, if a camera is expensive, it's more expensive to have more cameras. But thus is my simple mind.

May 15 2009 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dozus's comment

I ditto that question. It's hard for me to understand why having more cameras saves $500,000 an episode.

May 15 2009 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can think of "single camera" as meaning "get every shot in the program separately, one at a time, separately lit and set up" and "three camera" as meaning "film the whole thing with just a few setups in just a few goes each with several cameras running simultaneously, taking all of our shots from those." That should give you the idea.

Single camera shows are filmed like movies. Multi-camera shows are more your traditional sitcom setup, like "How I Met Your Mother"--limited number of sets, basic shots, usually a laugh track.

May 17 2009 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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