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Dawson's Creek: The Complete First Season

Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // April 1, 2003
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted April 2, 2003 | E-mail the Author
The Feature:
2 days… Having never seen an episode of "Dawson's Creek" in my life, I burned through all 13 episodes of the first season in a little under 48 hours. Just like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", I have only recently discovered a WB television show as it approaches its series finale later this year. Thank god for DVD.

So, what is "Dawson's Creek" about?
It's about four teenagers who reside in a small town called Capeside. It's about their relationships with each other, the people in their lives, and wading through the hell that is high school. Dawson (James van der Beek) has dreams of becoming the next Steven Spielberg. His parents have a seemingly perfect relationship, but things aren't always as they seem. Dawson's best friend is Joey (Katie Holmes). She lives with her pregnant sister, and works as a waitress at a restaurant near the docks. Whenever Joey and Dawson interact, there's a definite amount of chemistry in the air.

Pacey (Joshua Jackson) is the third member of the circle. He's strangely determined, and develops an unhealthy obsession with his teacher. Jen (Michelle Williams) is the object of Dawson's affection. She's got a mysterious past in New York, and has come to Capeside to help take care of her sick grandfather.

Is it a good show?
Yes. If you're into the whole "teenage drama" genre, then this is something definitely worth checking out. The show mixes story, drama, comedy, and witty dialogue almost flawlessly (much like "Buffy", these characters are wise beyond their years). It doesn't attempt to be too preachy, and avoids most of the clichés that plague most of television today (they still address sex and peer pressure).

"Dawson's Creek – The Complete First Season" features 13 episodes, each having a running time of approximately 45 minutes. Below are episode summaries and commentary listings, broken down per disc. Be forewarned, there are some potential spoilers in their descriptions.

Disc 1:
Pilot - Dawson and Joey find their relationship tensing up as a result of Jen's arrival to Capeside. Pacey meets an older woman who turns out to be his teacher.
Commentary by Producers Paul Stupin and Kevin Williamson.

Dance - The dance is coming up, and Dawson spazzes out that he didn't ask Jen to it. Joey confronts Dawson's mom about her recent indiscretions. Pacey's relationship with his teacher continues.

Kiss - Dawson is stuck working on a film production at school, but still has time to plan a perfect kiss between he and Jen. Pacey's teacher tutors him in more ways than one. Joey pretends to be something she is not to impress a boy.

Discovery - Dawson learns the hard truth behind Jen's arrival to Capeside, while his relationship with Joey hits a rough spot after finding out about his mom's infidelity. The Pacey/teacher story continues.

Disc 2:
Hurricane - A hurricane is on its way, and things won't be the same in Capeside after it hits. Dawson confronts his mom about her infidelity, and begins to cope with Jen's past. Pacey's older brother takes a liking to Tamara.

Baby - There's a rumor going around that Pacey is sleeping with a teacher at Capeside High School. Meanwhile, Joey's sister goes into labor in Dawson's living room.

Detention - Just like "The Breakfast Club", everyone has detention. Dawson and Pacey turn against each other, while the girls work out their differences. A really great episodes, if I do say so myself.

Boyfriend - Jen's old boyfriend is here for a visit, much to the dismay of Dawson. Joey goes crazy at a party, and Dawson's parents encounter some rough spots as they work on their marriage.

Roadtrip - It's boys night out as Pacey and Billy try to help Dawson get over Jen. If Joey's life wasn't bad enough, a rumor is being spread about her all over Capeside High.

Disc 3:
The Scare - Kevin Williamson, a man responsible for a few horro movies in the 90s, delivers a doozy here. It's Friday the 13th, and Dawson wants to scare everyone. Meanwhile, there are rumors of a serial killer coming to Capeside.

Double Date - Dawson goes on a double date with Jen and Cliff with the full intentions of making her jealous. Unfortunately for Dawson, he's the jealous one as Pacey and Jen work on a project together.

Beauty Contest - It's beauty contest time, and Joey and Pacey are the latest entrants. Meanwhile, Jen regrets breaking up with Dawson.

Decisions - Wow, what a good episode. Joey and Dawson share their first kiss. Enough said.
Commentary by Producers Paul Stupin and Kevin Williamson.

"Dawson's Creek" is presented in full frame 1.33:1. Shot in the days when the idea of television shows presented in 16x9 wasn't even considered; "Dawson's Creek" looks better on DVD than it does on television ( Reviewer's note: TBS is currently airing a Dawson's Creek marathon, and I was able to compare video quality). The print does suffer from specs of dirt, as well as grain; but that is more than expected from a low budget television show almost 6 years old. On the plus side, the picture doesn't pixelate, or become grainy during night scenes. Flesh tones also look quite good. Overall, you won't be disappointed with the transfer here.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Surround 2.0. There are no audio dropouts whatsoever, and character dialogue is crisp and clean. The soundtrack sounds very good, as it features many familiar songs from the 90s (i.e. One-hit-wonders). I would have preferred a 5.1 mix here, as the show would have benefited from more surround sound during the Hurricane and Scare episodes. Overall, this is as good as I expected considering the age, and production values of the show.

Every DVD has the same static screen, but allows you to select between different options. On disc one: "Episode Selections", "Subtitles", "Special Features" and "Trailers." On disc two: "Episode Selections" and "Subtitles." On disc three: "Episode Selections", "Subtitles", and "Special Features." Everything is laid out neatly, and everything is easily accessible.

"Dawson's Creek – The Complete First Season" has a decent amount of special features, including: two episode Commentaries (on the first and last episodes of the season) and two featurettes. The featurettes are located on disc one, while the commentaries can be found on disc one and three. Please note that the DVD menu is incorrect about the commentary for episode #13 (it is not a cast commentary, but one just with Paul Stupin and Kevin Williamson).

The commentaries with Stupin and Williamson are really good, as they frequently poke fun at themselves, while pointing out those tidbits we all love hearing about. If you like Joss Whedon's commentaries on the "Buffy" DVDs, then you should give a listen to Stupin and Williamson.

And now, the featurettes. The first featurette is called "Dawson's Creek: Day One." Clocking in at around 8 minutes in length, it's basically Producers Paul Stupin and Kevin Williamson talking about casting the show, and the audience reaction to it. The second featurette is called "Season One Time Capsule." At 7 minutes in length, it features clips from Season One, as well as interviews with the four stars of the show from 1998.

In an unusual move, Columbia Tri-Star has also included trailers for "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle", "Go", "Dick", and "Lone Star State of Mind."

Final Thoughts:
Well, I'll admit it. I'm addicted to this show. Columbia Tri-Star has done a good job on these DVDs, delivering 13 episodes on 3 DVDs, good audio, good video, and extras for a reasonable MSRP of only $39.95 (approx $3.07 per episode). Therefore, if you love "Dawson's Creek", then buy this box set. If you're looking for something new to watch, then give this set a try.

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Highly Recommended

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