Friday, December 31, 2010

Dawson's Creek - series review

The past few months I have done a marathon viewing run of the entire series of Dawson's Creek (seasons 1 through 6). The show ran originally on the WB from January 1998 through May 2003, and I did watch it rather faithfully for the first couple seasons. Then some other show must of came up that lured me away, so I not seen all of the episodes including the series finale until recently.
Many would dismiss this show as teenaged, soap-opera fluff but I tend to disagree. Okay, not so much about the genre - it was a teenaged soap-opera that took the friends from Capeside through their high school years and into their early college years in Boston. I would disagree about calling this fluff. I found the show to be smartly written with well-developed characters put into interesting situations. The show addressed major issues like student-teacher affairs, gay romance, alcohol abuse (a number of times) as well as showing that growing up sometimes means making major mistakes.
The show also helped create a foundation for a number of actors' careers. It was James Van Der Beek's (Dawson Leery) and Kerr Smith's (Jack McPhee) first big roles since their starting days on the daytime soap As The World Turns. It allowed Joshua Jackson (Pacey Witter) to break out of the role he played in a number of the Might Ducks movies. It was also one of the earliest roles for Michelle Williams (Jen Lindley), Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee), Busy Philipps (Audrey Liddell) and Katie Holmes (Joey Potter).
Some of the highlights of the show for me, season by season are:
Season 1: "the Pilot" (the establishment of the four main characters who are critical to the show until the very end - something rare for a show to keep the cast whole for the entire run), "Detention" (a homage to John Hughes' Breakfast Club and the big introduction to the character Abby Morgan, played by Monica Keena, whose short time on the show was a joy), and "Beauty Contest" (where Joey steps beyond that tom-boy image).
Season 2: "Crossroads" (the arrival of Andie and Jack McPhee to town), "the All-Nighter" (when a study session reveals many feelings among the friends), "Sex, She Wrote" (Abby's attempt to find out which couple has gone all the way), "...That Is the Question" (when Jack comes out of the closet), and "Rest In Peace" (Abby's funeral).
Season 3: "Escape From Witch Island" (a homage to the Blair Witch Project of sorts), "Weekend In the Country" (the opening of the Potter B&B), and "True Love" (when Joey and Pacey stop dancing around their mutual attraction and finally become a couple - yes, I am a "Team Pacey" supporter as I find he and Joey the better couple than the "soulmates couple" of Dawson and Joey).
Season 4: "A Winter's Tale" (the class ski trip where Joey and Pacey consumate their relationship) and "the Graduate" (graduation day, a keynote in all high school drama shows).
Season 5: "the Long Goodbye" (the aftermath of Mitch Leery's departure), and "Appetite For Destruction" (a dinner party among friends).
Season 6: "Merry Mayhem" (a holiday gone to Hell), "Castaways" (a perfect focus on Pacey and Joey together), "Joey Potter and Capeside Redemption" (what could easily have served as the series finale on its own) and then "All Good Things...Must Come To An End" (the double sized true series finale which jumps the cast ahead five years - a real tearjerker).
There are two other unsung "cast members" of the show. The first is the music. In the original run, this show did a lot to feature some amazing music - both new stuff by up-and-coming artists as well as some classic. The DVD sets don't keep all of that in place, sadly. The other is the locations. Most of the Capeside exteriors were filmed in and around Wilmington, NC. The Worthington University exteriors from seasons 5 and 6 were filmed at Duke University in Durham, NC, as well as some at nearby University of NC at Chapel Hill. A couple season 6 episodes were even filmed at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. As a person who has lived in North Carolina since my post college days, watching this show has "home feeling" to it.
With all this praise from me, the show wasn't 100% perfect. A few things didn't work for me. Pacey serving as a big-brother to Buzz (Jonathan Lipncki) got annoying. I never understood why Jack Osbourne appeared as himself in a few episodes. Seth Rogen as "Bob" in one season episode was just weird. I never liked the relationship between Joey and Eddie (Oliver Hudson).

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