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Today's Date is:

Dawson's Creek: The Complete First Season

Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Television/Drama
Video: 1.33:1 fullframe
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language: English
Subtitle: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean
Length: 570 min
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: 04/01/2003
Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Commentary: Two episode commentaries with writer Kevin Williamson
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: "Dawson's Creek: From Day One" featurette, "Season One Time Capsule" featurette
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Theatrical trailers
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson
Written By: Assorted
Produced by: Assorted
Directed By: Assorted
Music: Assorted
The Review:

I guess it had to happen sometime. It was only a matter of time after "Felicity" hit DVD that "Dawson's Creek," the crowning achievement of creator Kevin Williamson's career and the show that brought the WB to the attention of audiences everywhere, would make its way to the home viewing format. Ever since the show's original season in 1998, the series has garnered a cult following of hardcore fans and devotees, many of whom would rather die than miss a single episode. Call it a soap opera; call it a teen movie stretched to television length; call it whatever you like, but don't dare say it didn't grab anyone's attention. ***

The singlemost attractive factor of the show was quite obviously its attractive cast. James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson, playing slightly younger characters (like anyone really noticed, or even cared), became the ideal vision of teen life for the faithful viewers. Their clothes, their surroundings, and their lives... they were everything that people wanted to be. Williamson, who also penned the first two "Scream" films, knew how to work the public into a frenzy: with horror, he turned the routine into something smart. With the Creek, he mined the realm of teenage melodrama for something that would become vastly popular and ultimately rewarding for all involved. ***

This first season, the one that started it all, is one of the series' best; the show would eventually go downhill after Williamson made his exit after two seasons. So turn off the lights, grab some popcorn and a comfy cushion, and relive the experiences of Dawson, Joey, Jen, and Pacey.

Image and Sound

For such a hit, Columbia TriStar hasn't really done much with the quality of the presentation. Each episode is measured in the fullframe ratio of 1.33:1, and is much less appealing than most other TV-to-DVD transfers I've seen. The good news is that there is a sufficient lack of artifacts or enhancement halos. The bad news is that colors are marred by bleeding and intrusive noise, and contrast is wanting in detail. The overall picture looks very flat and muddled; let's hope that the ensuing season sets will show some vast improvements. ***

Also failing to make much of an impression is the Dolby 2.0 Surround presentation, which sounds fine for what it is, but is less immersive than other tracks of its kind. Dialogue sounds good and the front channel separation is admirable, but the surround usage is wanting in use of music or atmospheric sounds. Good, but not great.

The Extras Aside from the commentaries, there's not much to this three-disc set. Two featurettes have been included, both on the first disc, beginning with the newly-produced "Dawson's Creek: From Day One," which features some interviews with Williamson plus some footage from behind the camera. This is followed by "Season One Time Capsule," which is composed of some vintage interviews with James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson. Also included on this disc are four theatrical trailers.
Commentary For the pilot and season finale, there are commentary tracks by creator Kevin Williamson and producer Paul Stupin. Like Williamson's discussions for the "Scream" DVDs, these two tracks are engaging and very informative about a variety of subjects. There is much to learn about the first episode, which was shot as the series pitch and then refurbished with new footage for the first airing. Fans of the show will definitely want to check these out.
Final Words: While I'm not one of the people who plunks myself down on the sofa once a week for "Dawson's Creek," I'm willing to admit that the earlier shows do have a pull to them that tends to suck the viewer in. This DVD should please the fans of the series' start, but let's hope that they plan to do more with the upcoming seasons.

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March 28, 2003