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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Dawson's Creek: The Series Finale (2003)

Dawson: For the first time in a long time, my life is real. It doesn't matter who ends up with who. And in some unearthly way, it's going to be you and me.
Joey: Soulmates.
Dawson: Oh yeah, it goes beyond friendship. Beyond lovers. It's forever.
Joey: Yes, it is.

- James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: October 28, 2003

Stars: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, Kerr Smith, Busy Phillips, Mary Beth Peil, Dylan Neal, Mary-Margaret Humes
Director: James Whitmore, Jr., Greg Prange

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (homosexual situations, mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:45m:25s
Release Date: September 30, 2003
UPC: 043396018563
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Okay, okay, I liked it. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit I actually enjoyed watching Dawson's Creek: The Series Finale. And, no, I did not cry at the end of this maudlin double episode or at any other point during the show, thank you very much. (Just because I liked the darn thing doesn't mean I'm a total wuss.) If I sound amazed at my own favorable response, it's because I had never before seen a single episode of this coming-of-age teen drama (correction: soap) that ran for six seasons on the WB. My only knowledge of it came from what I had heard and read—that the show appealed exclusively to lovesick, hormone-infused teenage girls. Being 40, married and the father of three left me out in the cold, but so what if I didn't fit the series' demographic? I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210 religiously. (Damn, I swore I wouldn't admit that.) I mean, how much worse could Dawson's Creek be?

I popped in the disc late one night, expecting to feel lost and bored in no time. But eight minutes into the show, I nearly fell off my chair when a hunky sheriff pulled over a guy for speeding, leaned into his convertible and kissed him square on the lips. I mean, this was supposed to be wholesome, earnest Dawson's Creek, not some softcore gay porno flick! Well, writer-creator Kevin Williamson not only nabbed my attention, but also managed to keep it for 97 more minutes. And I'm still not sure how he did it.

Taking place five years in the future, this extended version of the series finale (featuring 17 minutes of never-before-seen footage) follows the wayward (and now scattered) lives of five friends from the idyllic village of Capeside, Massachusetts. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) has moved to Hollywood, where he writes and produces a shamelessly autobiographical teen soap called The Creek; Joey (Katie Holmes) juggles the demands of a Big Apple publishing job with those of her moody writer boyfriend (Jeremy Sisto); the charming but irresponsible Pacey (Joshua Jackson) now owns a restaurant in Capeside, but still lives dangerously, indulging in a torrid affair with an older married woman (Virginia Madsen); Jen (Michelle Williams) tries her best to cope as the single mother of a one-year-old girl; and Jack (Kerr Smith), a gay high school English teacher, struggles to forge a more open relationship with Doug (Dylan Neal), the closeted town sheriff. Oh yeah, and all these high school friends will reunite (and rekindle dormant passions) at the upcoming wedding of Dawson's mom (Mary-Margaret Humes).

What immediately struck me about Dawson's Creek, as I furiously tried to connect the dots and digest everyone's interlocking histories, was how all the main characters are just so damned nice! Supportive, understanding, touchy-feely. Every decent soap requires a good, old-fashioned bitch to stir things up, but apparently such creatures don't exist in sleepy Capeside. (Where's Heather Locklear and Joan Collins when you need them?) So instead, we get the next best thing—the death of a main character. Hey, it's the series finale; someone's gotta die. How else can the producers milk tears and ratings points at the same time? And how else can they teach these self-obsessed whiners the true meaning of life?

What ensues is a series of interminable farewells and weepy Terms of Endearment hospital scenes that made me want to shout, "Die already!" more than once. Tempted to bail, I forced myself to hang in there, because although I'd been watching the show for only 75 minutes instead of six years, I still craved the answer to the same question that obsessed all of America. Who would Joey choose—Dawson or Pacey? Yes, gosh darn it, I cared! And the producers must have realized the importance of that decision, too, for they finally bumped off that long-suffering character so they could proceed with the far more urgent business of tying up all of Dawson's dangling romantic entanglements.

I'm happy to report that, when all was said and done 30 minutes later, Joey made, in my view, the right decision. What a relief! And it took all the self-control I could muster not to rush over to an Internet chat room and discuss the details with a bunch of teenage strangers.

Sorry to be so flip; but, come on, it's a soap! Okay, I'll now don my serious reviewer's cap to say the following: The show's slick direction and winning personalities (especially those of Holmes and Jackson) overcome a schmaltzy script to make the Dawson's Creek finale a guilty pleasure. End of speech. And while I'm man enough to admit on this relatively anonymous website that I had fun watching the DVD, I don't quite possess the confidence to say so in front of my forty-something friends or 12-year-old son. I guess some of us just never outgrow our teen insecurities.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original full-frame version, the transfer suffers from occasional shimmering and moderate grain. Spotless source material, however, helps mask the flaws, and top-notch clarity, good contrast, vivid color and above-average shadow detail make for an overall pleasant viewing experience.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby stereo track offers nice directionality during Paula Cole's theme song and other pop music interludes, but is otherwise a standard, efficient effort. Dialogue is clear and comprehendible, and no distortion or defects exist. In short, typical TV sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Lone Star State of Mind, Me Without You
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Feature/Episode commentary by creator-writer Kevin Williamson and executive producer Paul Stupin
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Fans of Dawson's Creek will certainly appreciate the commentary track by creator-writer Kevin Williamson and executive producer Paul Stupin. The two guys have a blast reminiscing about the series, possessing deep pride and affection for their work, but also exhibiting a healthy sense of humor about the story arcs, production and actors. They address (and often agree with) criticisms, and never put the show on a pedestal. Discussion topics include differences between the extended and broadcast versions, what was cut and why, how actor Kerr Smith reacted to the decision (years ago) to make Jack gay, the decision to kill off a main character, and how Joey was originally intended to end up with someone else. Williamson also gives us a glimpse of "the thought process that goes into all this agonizing, agonizing writing," while Stupin admits he "never dreamed [the show] would grow to be the phenomenon that it has."

Optional commentary also graces a couple of rarities—the Alternate Ending to the Original Pilot Presentation and Three Alternate Scenes to the Original Pilot Presentation. The latter features discarded locations and a different father for Dawson (recast and reshot before the pilot aired), while the former shows Dawson's deleted reaction to an important plot point. It's fun to see the stars in their younger, slimmer days, acting more like carefree adolescents than complex adults.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

I'm a sucker for a good soap and watching the series finale of Dawson's Creek kinda sorta made me wish I had been on board with the show from its inception. (I guess wasting all those years with the 90210 gang soured me on high school angst.) Despite some sappy moments and TV clichés, the episode properly manipulates and surprises its captive audience, keeping even a non-fan like me interested and involved. (What is it about mediocre TV that makes one physically incapable of turning it off?) If you've never caught Creek before, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning. But for diehard Dawson devotees, this extended series finale is a required buy.


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