Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Joey likes Dawson, but Dawson likes Jen, and Pacey...
on 2 November 2003
I managed to avoid watching "Dawson's Creek" until the gang graduated from high school; students in my Popular Culture class always wanted to write about the show for their television unit so I finally had to get with the program. That means that when the first season finally became available that I already know that the title character is going to make it through his high school years with his virginity intact. Consequently, watching the first season of the series that was created by Kevin Williamson and which put the WB on the map is not about the big question of whether or not Dawson is going to (and if he does with whom). Basically it is about a group of high school sophomores struggling to maintain their relationships despite their almost constant attempts to destroy those self-same relationships.
The secret to enjoying "Dawson's Creek" is to realize that Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) is the least interesting member of the core group. This is not to say that he is boring, but when the entire series starts with him coaxing Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) into his bed because they always sleep together on movie night while remaining oblivious to the fact that the girl across the Creek is (a) in love with him and (b) a righteous babe, it is clear that this guy does not have a clue. Throughout the first season Dawson pretty much revalidates that idea at each and every opportunity, especially once "new girl" Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) literally moves next door. Meanwhile, loveable loser Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) is putting the moves on Tamara Jacobs (Leann Hunley), the gang's new English teacher. This last aspect becomes the proverbial exception that proves the rule because otherwise this coming of age drama would, rather ironically, be about teenagers NOT having sex. In that regard it almost seems like Williamson was trying to come up with a sexual generation-gap show in the grand tradition of "Family Ties," because in that regard Dawon's parents are embarrassing their son to death. But then it turns out his mother (Mary-Margaret Humes) has been having an affair and once his father (John Wesley Shipp) gets to the last person to know stage the destruction of the young Leery's psyche is just about complete. Besides, in the final insult to injury, he only gets to audit his school's film class.
The first season finds Dawson pursuing Jen, but the heart of that season is Joey's transformation from tomboy to potential Miss Windjammer, which reaches its high point when she sings "On My Own" in Episode 111, "Beauty Contest." The soul of the first season is clearly Pacey, who can never believe that he is as charming as he really happens to be; even at this early stage of the game there is a clear suggestion that he and Joey are kindred spirits. Not surprisingly given who created the show, the best episode in this collection turns out to be "The Scare" (Episode 109), which has Dawson pulling out his bag of tricks to scare the gang on Friday the 13th. The characters are likeable, the scripts are halfway literate, and the fact that Dawson and Joey reminds me of Anne Shirley being oblivious to the fact that she and Gilbert Blythe are going to live happily ever after is not a bad thing for "Dawson's Creek" to have going for it either. The DVD extras are halfway decent as well, with a retrospective featurette and some commentary from Williamson and executive producer Paul Stupin.