Season 1 Retrospective

So Season 1 is over.

I still have no idea what the context of this classic picture is from, but gauging by Dawson’s hair, I’m going to guess that I’ll find out soon.

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So yeah, the first thirteen episodes are in the books.  There’s a part of me that’s actually surprised I’ve made it this far.  When I started this process, I had no idea the episodes were 44 minutes long, and that writing these reviews would take roughly 2,000 words and three hours to put together, start to finish.  That means I’ve spent approximately 39 hours on this stupid, stupid endeavor.  But as I pointed out when writing for the third or fourth episode, they say it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, and in that regard, it looks like this blog is here to stay.  Congratulations all around!

Season 1.  I’ve learned that this isn’t exactly the worst show on the planet.  Sure, the characters are aggravating as hell, the dialogue is stilted and pretentious, the storylines are at times nonsensical (I’m looking at you, “Detention”), and sometimes it seems like the writers were just like “fuck it”, but there have been way worse shows that have graced the airwaves, all things considered.  That’s not to say I love it, but I can at least tolerate 44 minute chunks of Dawson and company.

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The first season of any TV show is always fraught with “Well, what do we have to do to get a second season?” thinking by all parties, which explains some of the more ham fisted plot lines.  The “will-they-or-won’t-they” between Dawson and Joey that drug on for far too many episodes, only to culminate in a kiss at the end of the finale, Jen and Dawson going back and forth, Pacey fucking his teacher, the affair between Gail and Newsman Bob; all accelerated drama to keep teenagers coming back each week.  It’s effective, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t moments when I wasn’t concerned that my eyes were going to roll out of my skull.

Hands down, the worst episode of the season was “Detention”.  What a fucking joke.  Someone in the writer’s room definitely got drunk, watched The Breakfast Club, and thought “We can totally do an episode like this!”, only to completely miss the mark and make me hate each of the characters just a little bit more.  By the end of The Breakfast Club, you had a new found understanding of each of the characters and their motivations, but this episode just ended with everyone sitting around awkwardly while Joey cried and Dawson sat there with a dumb look on his face, completely oblivious to the obvious developments at hand.  We were treated to Pacey being hit in the face by a basketball, so some good came of it, but man, that episode was rough.

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One of the more nonsensical stories was Joey’s sister giving birth at Dawson’s house.  My sister-in-law just had a baby, and she was in labor for over 24 hours, yet at no point during the birth at Dawson’s did either an ambulance or Dawson’s parents show up.  It was completely moronic, cloying and treated the viewers with complete disdain, expecting us to suspend reality to that level.

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I’m not entirely sure where Dawson’s parents stand, post-affair.  The show has kind of glossed over the whole thing.  One minute, Bro Dad will tell Gail that he hates her guts, the next we see them lovingly embracing in the background as Dawson leaves the house.  This is just another example of how the writers see the viewers as assholes who don’t pay attention to what’s going on.

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One of the biggest issues that I have with this show is that the characters are never forced to experience consequences for their actions.  Pacey banged his teacher, it came out, and the worst thing that happened was that he was dumped and she moved.  That’s not how real life works.  Google any number of teacher-fucking-student stories, and they all end really badly for the teacher involved.  Not to mention that Tamara putting The Creek in her rear view in the middle of the school year should have immediately sent up red flags to school administrators that maybe something was up and they should reinvestigate.

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But no, the characters can do wrong and act like complete assholes, and everything still works out well for them.  Dawson ruins Jen’s date with Cliff, all while leading another girl along, and Jen comes running back to him.  A guy tries to strangle Pacey, an action I can totally get behind, breaking and entering into Dawson’s home, and they get free bowling shoe rentals out of it.  Pacey’s brother, a cop, skips out on his job during an emergency, not to mention pulls his service pistol on Pacey over an insinuation about his sexuality, and he probably got promoted.  Fuck that.  “Detention” may have been the worst episode of the season, but at least the characters had to suffer some consequences for their actions, however stupid they may have been in the first place (best example being the overreaction of Jen getting a Saturday detention for saying “life’s a bitch”).

I realize that the show’s target demographic wasn’t 27 year old, young professionals, but teenagers, and that at the end of the day, the points I mentioned above have no bearing on Dawson’s love life and the journey they want to take us on as he discovers himself.  Dawson got Jen and now, apparently, Joey, and that’s what people are interested in.  They don’t care about Bro Dad and Gail’s marriage counseling because that shit is boring when you can do a five minute segment of Joey’s nasally singing in a black evening gown (God, that was terrible).

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Apart from the whole consequences issue, the other glaring problem that I have with this show is that I really don’t empathize with any of the characters.  Well, that’s kind of a lie; I like Bro Dad in all his sexually open, pervy glory, and do think he’s one of the more sympathetic characters in The Creek.

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It’s hard to determine if the empathy issue is an issue on my part because I spend three hours each week picking each episode apart, focusing on each characters’ flaws, or if the characters really do just generally suck as people.  Pacey is, without a doubt, one of the better examples of a character that I feel no sympathy for how his plot lines have played out; if you want to be a selfish asshole with no regard for how your sexualization of a teacher could impact her life, then you deserve to be sad for being alone when it all goes to Hell.  If Joey won’t just sack up and tell Dawson how she feels about him, then why should I feel bad for her?  If Jen won’t tell Billy to get the fuck out of The Creek and let her live her life, she shouldn’t be surprised when it blows up in her face.

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Again, maybe my focus on these character flaws is misguided, but this show ran for eight fucking seasons, so they have to turn that around at some point.

Like I said, the first season of a show is always the learning season where the primary goal is getting viewers to tune in every week, and that was definitely true of Dawson’s Creek.  It wasn’t the worst season of television ever, but there are definitely some production issues that I hope get resolved over the next season.  This was billed as a soap opera for teenagers, so I’m not expecting the over-the-top drama to go away, but maybe they can stop treating the viewers with complete disregard.

And please, no more extended sequences of Pacey acting out other movies.  Granted, I laughed each time, but still…actually, no, please keep letting Pacey go off on movie monologues.

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My review of the premiere of Season 2 will be up next Monday, as well as some new features in each review, so please keep coming back.

 

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