Plot: What’s it about?
In the small town of Capeside, Massachusetts, a group of teenagers prepare to enter the world of high school. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) has a good homelife and seeks to make movies, which is the reason he and his friend Pacey (Joshua Jackson) work at the local video outlet. But while Dawson has been friends with a beautiful girl named Joey (Katie Holmes) since they were kids, the winds of change have started to blow. The onset of growing up and the hormones involved have started to put some cracks in that friendship, as Joey believes that the changes are certain to doom their relationship. But Dawson is sure they can continue to be friends, even sleep in the same bed, no matter how much body hair is involved. At the same time, a hot new girl Jen (Michelle Williams) move into town and right from the start, Dawson is taken with her. This creates some tension with Joey, but she buries her feelings about the situation. Pacey finds himself drawn toward an older woman, which could land both of them in serious trouble. Even as adulthood looms overhead, these teens try to stay unchanged, though that is impossible. Can the teens of Capeside manage to keep things together, or will the trials & tribulations of growing up stand in the way? And who will end up falling for who?
As created by Kevin Williamson (writer of Scream), Dawson’s Creek is another one of those sappy, trendy teen soap operas. But of course, it was one of the first and its success ignited a slew of shows of its kind. Dawson’s Creek helped give its small network some credibility, as well as inspiring several clone shows, some of which also found some success. But as I went back and watched this debut season again, I have no idea why the show became so popular and revived the teen soap opera on television. Maybe its because I prefer shows like Saved By The Bell or Boy Meets World, but Dawson’s Creek comes off as lame to me, as if some nerds got together and wanted to relive their lost high school potential. The writing is contrived and predictable, but we’re made to think its magical, which is where the show loses my interest. I know people want to see hip, popular kids, but come on, this show takes itself too seriously, considering the poor writing and performances from its young cast. Yes, Katie Holmes is hot and most of the cast has went on to feature films, but I found Dawson’s Creek to be a real disappointment. This second season continues the cheese, but we have a couple of new cast members. Columbia’s treatment is no masterpiece, as all twenty-two episodes are crammed onto four discs, instead of the usual six disc standard. So unless you’re obsessed with the show, I can’t recommend this release, at least not until Columbia makes a substantial price reduction.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The first season didn’t look good, but I thought perhaps the second season would be better. As it turns out, Columbia hasn’t learned their lesson and these episodes also look lackluster. The image here is very soft and even has some grain, which contribute to a lackluster, VHS level presentation. This is a real disappointment, as the episodes look better on television broadcasts, as they’re not so damn soft. The softness extends to the color and contrast also, which lessens the visuals even more. The colors tend to smear, which is unacceptable on such recent material, while contrast sits at consistent, but not as refined as you’d expect. I don’t think these episodes are unwatchable, but Columbia has dropped the ball on this one, as reruns look better than this.
Audio: How does it sound?
This sounds just as good as when its shown on television, thanks to a solid 2.0 surround option. Of course, this material isn’t designed to showcase high end audio equipment, so surround use is infrequent and uneventful, but the elements sound quite good here. All the various sound effects come across loud and clear, while the musical soundtrack adds some life and depth to the experience. The music sometimes makes good use of the surrounds, but aside from that, only a few instances of surround presence can be detected. The main focus here is on dialogue, which is as clean and crisp as we could want. This disc also includes subtitles in Spanish and Portuguese, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The first and last episodes of the season feature audio comments from executive producer Paul Stubin. I was impressed with Stubin’s presence on both tracks, as he has a lot of great insights and both sessions are worth a listen.