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Dawson's Creek - The Complete Second Season
Reviewed by: Marc Eastman
Genre: Television
Video: 1.33:1 fullscreen
Audio: Dolby 2.0
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, Portugese, English (Closed Captioning)
Length: 977 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: 12/16/2003
Studio: Columbia -Tristar
Commentary: Commentary by executive producer Paul Stupin on 'The Kiss' and 'Parental Discretion Advised'
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: None
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson
Written By: Kevin Williamson (creator)
Produced By: Kevin Williamson
Directed By: NA
Music: NA
The Review:

'Dawson's Creek' was, from beginning to end, a bizarre sort of effort, even considering that it was made for people with 'teen' either in their age, or their emotional make-up. The show gave us an odd internal dichotomy, by being populated by teens who were exceptionally intelligent and well-rounded (able to casually throw Nietzche into a conversation, and similar), but at the same time prone to any sort of ridiculous behavior we might normally associate with prepubescence. On the one hand, you wouldn't be surprised to find them starting their own Algonquin Roundtable; on the other hand, you wouldn't be surprised to see them slip into the plot of any given episode of 'Saved by the Bell'. ***

For good or ill, the show's immense popularity sparked several careers, and managed to become a phenomenon worthy, at the very least, of many fond memories during 'Flashback' specials twenty years from now. That being the case, if there is a season of 'Dawson's Creek' worth owning (and there isn't), it's this one. The show pretty well peaked in the second season, and if you don't like this one, you aren't going to like any. The show moved past the first season desperation, settled down into a stable episodic and seasonal arc, and delivered some laughs. Not to mention the fact that somewhere during the third season (I forget the exact story), the creator of the series actually leaves the show, and it was a quick downhill tumble from there. ***

The series as a whole is teen-soap at its worst (because the last four seasons dominate the show's 'presence'), but this second season may be teen-soap at its best, whatever that might mean. Things are still semi-grounded, and the main conflicts revolve around crushes, undeveloped emotions, and legitimate parental/school/'the system' concerns. The pint-sized, post-graduates passing as teens still have some connection with their audience beyond mere fantasy, and a quick comparison with the plot outline of this show and a random 'real' soap opera will still diverge at many points. All of that is to change in future seasons, and quickly. ***

At this stage in the game it is still a show, success being irrelevant, that doesn't have delusions of grandeur, and I like to think that's why the creator eventually left. If you're going to be (or are) interested in the show, this is the season to buy. Before long the show will be so riddled with unintentional self-mockery that it won't be possible to watch it anyway. ***

It is worth mentioning, that the show you see will be a good deal different than what you watched on television. While show's like 'Miami Vice' are unlikely to ever make it to DVD, because those in charge do not want the soundtrack changed, and getting new agreements for the rights to all those songs is a daunting task, 'Dawson's Creek' comes to DVD with new music, side-stepping the issue altogether. That may be the sort of thing that fans won't swallow well (and who can predict how fans of this show will react to anything?). The show, much like 'Miami Vice', and a staggering number of recent shows, is/was quite song heavy, and it is pretty easy to note where the week's number song on the charts obviously was once. -

Image and Sound:

There aren't many problems with the look of the DVD release. It's pretty standard television-release fare, and there's no real need to overly polish things up for this sort of show. As long as contrasts aren't too bad, and flesh tones come through well, that's about all you could ask. And, those things are fine. What isn't great is the fact there are several episodes per disc. There is an above-average amount of compression-related problems, and it seems very odd that we couldn't just have another disc in the set. Still, it looks largely as good as you're used to seeing on television anyway. ***

Little about the sound is noteworthy. It's as average as you'll run into. Dialogue comes through fine, and there are no real flaws, but that's about all you can say. There's no real 'play' with channels or surround. It sounds just like a television show, for all the good and bad that's worth. -

The Extras: None

Of all commentary that exist on DVDs, the ones by producers make the least amount of sense to me. Of course, you really only run into them on television show releases, but I just don't see the point, or appeal. On the other hand, I suppose with a show like 'Dawson's Creek', the odds are that any commentary is likely to be about as interesting as any other, so why not? ***

Be that as it may, the commentary tracks Paul Stupin provides for the first and last episodes of the season are not bad at all for a television show. A generous mix of production anecdotes, and plot discussion (sort of), if they do nothing else, these commentaries at least keep moving. For the most part, he gives just the sort of information fans are probably looking for, which is to say, not much that relates to show itself on any serious level. But, how much can you expect?

Final Words:

If there's a good season of 'Dawson's Creek', there's certainly a good case to be made for this being it. Though there really aren't any special features to speak of, the set is priced pretty reasonably for an entire season of television. Though not spectacular, there are very few true flaws with the presentation. If you have any thoughts about picking it up, you probably should.

Marc Eastman


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