Our reviews of Dawson's Creek: The Complete Second Season (published January 19th, 2004), Dawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season (published December 1st, 2004), Dawson's Creek: The Complete Fourth Season (published November 24th, 2004), Dawson's Creek: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 10th, 2005), and Dawson's Creek: The Series Finale (published April 27th, 2004) are also available.
We're friends, okay? No matter how much body hair we acquire.
Dawson's Creek is an institution. Since its first episode, highly anticipated because of creator Kevin Williamson's recent successes with the Scream franchise and I Know What You Did Last Summer, "The Creek" has inspired rabid loyalty among its viewers. I remember watching it when it first aired, when the WB was just a fledgling network, and I remember enjoying it, buying in to all the hype. So when I popped in the first episode, I was disappointed to find myself bored and unaffected. Where were the captivating storylines? Where were the characters' mature-beyond-their-years insights? Where was the originality?
I've come to the conclusion that time has not served this series well for two reasons. First, in five years I've grown up just enough that I am no longer a part of the show's target audience. I'm too old to fall for this stuff (or at least I like to think so). I see past the big words and the pretty faces to find it lacking substance. And second, Dawson's Creek has been supplanted by shows (such as Gilmore Girls and Everwood) that do what it used to do, but with more subtlety and skill. In other words, Dawson's Creek is old news.
Facts of the Case
• "The Scare"
• "Double Date"
• "Beauty Contest"
There's probably not much I can say about Dawson's Creek, the show, that you don't already know. It's a typical WB show—a teenage drama with witty dialogue, attractive actors, and a hip soundtrack. When it first aired, it stood out for being cool and new; it had a cool new creator (Kevin Williamson), a cool new network (the WB), and the coolest newest music (theme song by Paula Cole). And it was edgier than others in its genre—with a bigger vocabulary than Party of Five and a much stronger sexual charge than 7th Heaven. There's really not much more to tell.
So instead I'll focus on Dawson's Creek, the DVD. The three-disc set includes all 13 episodes of the first season, two (the first and the last) with commentaries by writer/producer Kevin Williamson and producer Paul Stupin. Though mildly interesting if you're a true fan who's interested in trivia and tidbits, the commentaries are too self-congratulatory for my taste. They include a lot of "look what a good job we did here" and "we really pulled it off there" comments. I have a love/hate relationship with shows like Dawson's Creek—they make me laugh, they make me cry…and then they make me pissed at myself (and the show) for laughing and crying at such sentimentality. The hate side of the relationship grew as I listened to these commentaries and learned that so much of that sentimentality (at least on Dawson's) is purposeful. Williamson and Stupin unabashedly explain the techniques they use to tug at viewers' heartstrings.
In addition to the commentaries, the set offers two featurettes, "Dawson's Creek: Day One" (8 minutes) and "Season One Time Capsule" (7 minutes). Both include interviews—the former with Kevin Williamson and Paul Stupin and the latter with James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, and Michelle Williams—and discussions of, among other topics, the controversies surrounding some of the first season's storylines. If you haven't been watching since the beginning, the featurettes are useful for acquainting yourself with the context of the show. If you have been watching since the beginning, they're useful for experiencing a bit of nostalgia.
I didn't expect it, but I would have been thrilled to see included a song list for each episode. If I recall correctly, Dawson's Creek was the first show with the nifty idea (and brilliant marketing ploy) of naming each episode's songs at the end. I'm pretty sure this practice didn't start until after the first season, so including a list on this first season DVD might have taken a little effort, but it would have continued the tradition of honoring the role music plays in the show.
Dawson's Creek is presented in full screen, despite having been shot in 1.78:1. The video quality is lacking: the picture is grainy, the colors bleed throughout, and I saw more than a few specks of dirt. And the audio quality is not much better: the dialogue is often difficult to hear, bass is very rarely used, and the sound could stand to be much clearer and crisper overall.
A little pet peeve I must mention: numerous times while watching Dawson's, I was frustrated that each episode has only one chapter stop. Starting at the beginning, hitting skip will land you right after the opening theme song. Once you've reached this point, hitting skip will land you at the black screen at the very end of the episode, after the credits have played. You're quickly taken to the menu, where you must start the episode over and fast forward to your chosen destination. Would it really have been that difficult to include two or three additional chapter stops to ease navigation?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Dawson's Creek is nothing more than a soap opera for teenagers. Sure, they talk fancy and they dress pretty, but how could a show that includes a 15-year-old losing his virginity to his 36-year-old teacher be anything but pure trash?
It's simple, really: if you're a Creek fan, buy the DVDs; if you're not, don't. And if you're not sure if you're a fan because you've never seen the show, save your money and watch Gilmore Girls instead.
Any crimes committed were done so by minors, whose records have since been expunged. Therefore, no charges can be filed.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentaries with Writer/Producer Kevin Williamson and Producer Paul Stupin: "Pilot" and "Decisions"
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