Dawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season review by Mike Long

OK, here's a philosophical question for you: If you never ask me a question can you claim that I lied to you? If I'm never confronted about a situation, can it be said that I betrayed someone? These seemingly random questions are at the crux of the third season of the teen soap Dawson's Creek. This season saw many changes for the now familiar characters, but the drama is sullied by the use of terms such as "lie" and "betrayal" when no such actions have taken place. My reaction to this only proves that the show is as addictive as ever, and it can now be enjoyed with the Dawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season DVD set.

Like many shows, the third season of Dawson's Creek picks up as summer comes to a close (cleverly mirroring the real-life scheduling of the show). And the opening of the season picks up many of the loose threads from the end of Season 2. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) returns to Capeside from a summer film program, and on the bus ride, he meets a mysterious girl named Eve (Brittany Daniels). Pacey (Joshua Jackson) ventures to a mental hospital to pick up his girlfriend Andie (Meredith Monroe), who'd had a nervous breakdown at the end of Season 2. Andie's brother Jack (Kerr Smith), has moved in with Jen (Michelle Williams) and her grandmother (Mary Beth Peil), because he and his father have struggled over the fact that Jack is gay. Joey (Katie Holmes) is still trying to come to grips with the terrible finale of Season 2 (in which her father went back to jail).

As the season progresses, each of the main characters faces a new set of dilemmas and dramatic situations. Dawson finds himself drawn to the sexy Eve, but he's still trying to sort out his feelings for Joey -- however, he's doesn't like being near his old flame. So, Dawson asks Joey to keep an eye on Joey. This request ends up backfiring on Dawson, as Pacey begins to find himself attracted to Joey. Joey has her hands full with her own problems, as she and her sister have decided to open their own bed and breakfast. Jen finds herself being pursued by a younger football player (Michael Pitt). Jack joins the football team as well, and has to deal with his first crush. These storylines present many hurdles for the characters and sets up a love triangle with Dawson, Joey, and Pacey.

Dawson's Creek is one of those shows that creates such over-the-top melodrama that it's impossible to take seriously. However, the show also generates some genuinely recognizable emotions that many viewers will be able to relate to. But, Season 3 will test the patience of even the most devoted fan of the show as it introduces some ridiculous situations that are hard to swallow. The relationship between Pacey and Joey feels both forced and somewhat organic at the same time. (It's reminiscent of the sudden pairing of Monica and Chandler on Friends.) And when their newfound attraction becomes the focal point of the show, it certainly adds life to the second half of the season. The problem is the reaction to this new couple from every other character on the show. The characters accuse Joey and Pacey of "lies" and "betrayal". Dawson becomes incredibly annoying (even moreso than usual) with his constant whining about this situation. I rarely interact with TV shows, but I found myself yelling "You told Pacey to look after her! You rejected her!" at Dawson's insipid sniveling. This overwrought reaction from Dawson truly sullies the last few episodes of the season. As for the other characters and their situations, they range from mildly interesting (Jack's struggles with his Dad and his sexuality) to bewildering (Jen's brooding boyfriend). Overall, the 23 episodes of Season 3 are OK, but there are some true stinkers, such as The Blair Witch Project inspired "Escape from Witch Island" or the Thanksgiving episode ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?") which doesn't really gel with the other episodes. Dawson's Creek Season 3 offers a look at a show in transition, which was willing to take some chances in shuffling the lives of its main characters. The results are laughable at times, but the drama is still enticing.

Dawson's Creek: The Complete Third Season comes to DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The 23 episodes offered in this 4-disc boxed set are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The shows look pretty good, clearly rivaling digital broadcast quality. The images are sharp and clear, but there is a noticeable amount of grain on the image in most of the daytime scenes. The colors look very good, and the picture is well-balanced -- the nighttime scenes are never too dark and the action is always visible. There is some noticeable artifacting in some episodes, but it’s not overly distracting. The DVD has granted the shows with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio tracks. The tracks provide clear dialogue and nice stereo separation in the front channels, but show very little in the way of surround sound, except for musical cues. Speaking of the music, Dawson's Creek completists and casual fans will be annoyed by the fact the now familiar “I Don’t Wanna’ Wait” opening theme song from Paula Cole has been replaced. On the audio commentary, executive producer Paul Stupin admits that this was done for “financial reasons”.

This 4-disc set only contains three extra features. Executive producer Paul Stupin and star Kerr Smith provide audio commentary on “First Encounters of the Close Kind” (Disc 2) and “True Love” (Disc 4). Their talks have very little to do with the on-screen action, but they’re still worth a listen. In the first one, they basically catch up because they haven’t seen each other in a while. In the second talk, they do discuss the show and characters more and then go on to talk about the episode which Kerr Smith directed. The only other extra is an “Interactive Map of Capeside” (Disc 1). This seems like a good idea, and it shows an aerial view of all of the familiar locations from the show, but the map only offers clips and no details (like where the location is in real life).

6 out of 10 Jackasses

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