Dawson's Creek-Season 1 (1998)

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Released 10-Jun-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Pilot; Last Episode (Kevin Williamson & Paul Stupin)
Featurette-Dawson's Creek from Day One
Featurette-Dawson's Creek Season One Time Capsule
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 545:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Van Der Beek
Katie Holmes
Michelle Williams
Joshua Jackson
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Dutch
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    By the time Dawson’s Creek made it to TV, I was out of high school and spending my Uni days getting up to lots of mischief. Commercial TV was about the last thing on my mind. I had grown up and I was living the life. However, I am a big fan of the writing of series creator Kevin Williamson – the first Scream movie being one of my personal favourites. It never ceases to cheer me up when I’m feeling a little down. So when I was given the opportunity to review this show from the start, I decided – why not? However, it should be noted from the outset that Dawson’s Creek is a little different to Williamson’s cinematic work. This is not a disparaging comment, merely an honest statement.

    Basically, the outline of this show is a new take on the classic teenaged drama, revolving around the lives of four 15 year olds growing up by the water in the little coastal town of Capeside. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) loves Steven Spielberg and wants to be a Hollywood director. Joey (Katie Holmes) has been best friends with Dawson since they were little kids. She regularly sleeps the night at his place, but nothing is going on. However, she harbours a secret desire for him which she refuses to act upon. Pacey (Joshua Jackson), Dawson’s best friend, is a bit of an underachiever with a developing taste for older women. Enter Jen (Michelle Williams), Dawson’s new next door neighbour, who Dawson instantly falls for to the deep resentment of Joey. On top of this, Dawson’s mother is having an affair. Joey’s sister is pregnant to the only local black man. And Jen’s grandmother is a God-fearing Christian who does not understand her Granddaughter’s atheism. It’s Peyton Place with better dialogue and lots more sexual tension.

    Here is a short summary of the episodes:

Disc 1

    1. "Pilot" (42:29) -- An introduction to the four main characters – Dawson, Joey, Pacey and Jen – and the sexual tension between them. Plus, the first day at High School.

    2. "Dance" (42:19) -- Dawson doesn’t know how to express his feelings for Jen when the local all star quarterback takes an interest. Joey doesn’t know how to express her feelings for Dawson now that he is interested in Jen. Pacey knows how to express his feelings for his teacher Tammy, but she won’t go along with it. Everything’s going to come to a head at the school dance.

    3. "Kiss" (42:15) -- What’s the big deal about a kiss? Does it have to be something so special? Is it all about passion? Is it all romance? That one true Hollywood moment? And who will be kissed? Who will go further?

Disc 2

    4. "Discovery" (41:55) -- When Dawson begins editing his movie, he accidentally discovers his mother’s infidelity. Who can he turn to for comfort – Jen or Joey? And when Jen reveals some secrets about her past, will she drive Dawson away?

    5. "Hurricane" (42:05) -- Hurricane Chris is off the coast and everybody is trapped indoors with only each other for company. Just the right environment for all those tensions and unrevealed issues to come to a boiling point.

    6. "Baby" (40:38) -- When Joey’s sister goes into labour the only one who can be called upon at short notice is Jen’s Grandmother who despises every moral degradation that Joey’s family represents.

    7. "Detention" (42:34) -- It’s the Dawson’s Creek answer to The Breakfast Club. When all the central characters earn themselves a Saturday detention, passing the time together might prove lethal to some relationships.

Disc 3

    8. "Boyfriend" (41:34) -- When Jen’s boyfriend from New York shows up, she is thrown into emotional turmoil. Will this be the end of her relationship with Dawson? And if so, is this an opportunity for Joey?

    9. "Roadtrip" (41:38) -- Jen’s boyfriend takes Dawson and Pacey for a trip to a bar across the border for a bit of a party. Back in Capeside, Joey finds herself the subject of vicious rumours started by one of the local jocks. Tired of being trod on by the popular kids, she and Jen plan revenge.

    10. "The Scare" (40:50) -- It’s Friday the 13th with a serial killer loose near Capside and Dawson playing scary pranks on everyone. But when things start getting out of hand, terror will be the order of the day.

Disc 4

    11. "Double Date" (42:08) -- Dawson goes on a double date to try and win Jen back. At the same time, Pacey starts getting interested in Joey when they are forced to collude on a science project.

    12. "Beauty Contest" (42:04) -- Pacey enters the local beauty contest to make some money. At the same time, Jen enters Joey much to Dawson’s ridicule. However, when Joey turns out to be a bombshell in an evening gown, Dawson starts questioning where his romantic interests lie.

    13. "Decisions" (42:16) -- Joey wins a scholarship to study in France just as Dawson begins to fall for her. Jen wants Dawson back but thinks it’s too late. Meanwhile, her Grandfather might be getting better or might be taking a turn for the worst. Pacey likes Joey, but knows he can’t go there because of his best friend. And it’s Joey’s father’s birthday, and she has to go visit him – in jail. Is this your typical cliffhanger, or some resounding finale for the first year of a show all about growing up?

    Having grown up myself on the brilliant Canadian teen drama Degrassi High, it was interesting to take a look at the American take on a group of close friends growing up through their teen years. The verdict? Well, this is very, very different. Unlike Degrassi, the characters in this show are saturated by TV and take many of their life messages directly from movies and reruns. Much of our time watching them involves them discussing and even watching movies or TV. They are truly the MTV generation, living in a fantasy land created by their escape from reality into video rentals or cable. When this fantasy land clashes with reality, their emotions explode, and their awkwardness in dealing with real life situations is at times amusing, tragic and incredibly frustrating – sometimes all at once.

    There was the real potential for this show to become another boring rich kids dealing with trivial problems show. I mean, everybody here is like an advertisement for GAP or Colorado. However, with some clever writing (the dialogue in this show is, for the most part, excellent) and some rather good acting, I must admit that the series holds together quite well to the conclusion of its first season, with only a few rather tacky and schmaltzy moments. There are certain stand-out episodes – “Kiss”, “Hurricane”, “Detention”, “The Scare” and “Beauty Contest” being probably the best of the lot for consistency in acting and writing and overall effect. Indeed, my only real criticism of the show is that the actors, while still young, certainly look a lot older than fifteen. But this is more a quibble than a criticism and I’m not going to make a big issue out of it. Dawson’s Creek does not seem to get into the nitty gritty of teen issues in the way that Degrassi does, but it still beats the majority of teen dramas hands down.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, this is the original aspect ratio for the series.

    The quality of the picture is, unfortunately, not so good. I liken it to the quality of Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 1, but it’s probably a little worse. Hopefully, Columbia Tristar can improve on seasons to come, but I am sorry to say there are many problems here.

    For starters, the picture is persistently quite grainy, especially in shots done in low light. Some scenes are extremely bad, like that at 25:59 - 26:16 in “Kiss”. Shadow detail is far from excellent, and on the whole it tends to only be during well lit outdoor shots that there are no problems.

    Colour is, for the most part, very good, but the graininess and lack of shadow detail sometimes makes it a little murky. Shots done at ‘magic hour’ or dusk tend to suffer most from this problem.

    Focus is sometimes way out, with a resultant blurriness – the introduction to “Hurricane” being a prime example.

    There are several MPEG encoding problems and other film-to-video artefacts. Dot crawl is fairly rampant, and posterization is often evident during facial close ups where the lighting is not too good. There is some pretty bad aliasing at 20:30 during “Road Trip”, and some distracting MPEG blocking on Dawson’s shirt at 34:38 during “Beauty Contest”. Edge enhancement crops up from time to time, being most annoyingly obvious during “Boyfriend” at 38:40 - 40:22.

    Film artefacts also cropped up from time to time. Although most of these are simply flecks of dirt, which are generally present on most prints, there is a big line down the screen during “Detention” at 13:45 and at 37:16 - 37:20 during “Beauty Contest”, as well as a big hair in the middle of the screen at 6:53 - 7:44 also during “Beauty Contest”.

    There is an extensive list of subtitle options here: English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Italian, German and Dutch. They appear as white with a grey border and are easy to read.

    The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, and so is not distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks available here: the original English 2.0 Dolby Surround track, a French 2.0 Dolby Surround track, an Italian 2.0 Dolby Surround track, and a German 2.0 Dolby Surround track. The non-English tracks seemed fine, but the original audio deserves a little more of a critique.

    This is a fairly central and front-driven soundtrack composed mostly of speech. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand most times. Any audio sync problems went unnoticed.

    There is little in the way of surround information. The rears only came to life to add a little to the music score, which was composed almost exclusively of popular music tracks.

    There was no subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. They are static and silent.

Featurette - “Dawson’s Creek From Day One” (8:22)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a collection of interviews, primarily with series creator Kevin Williamson and producer Paul Stupin about the genesis of the show.

Featurette – “Dawson’s Creek Time Capsule” (6:53)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. This is a collection of interviews made with the principal cast on the first day of shooting.

Audio Commentary by Kevin Williamson and Paul Stupin - “Pilot”

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, these two play well off each other and don’t shut up, even through the end credits. Lots of energy.

Audio Commentary by Kevin Williamson and Paul Stupin - “Decisions”

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround. As above, although maybe a little more tongue-in-cheek here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release supposedly has an even worse picture quality than what I am seeing here, and is split over only 3 discs. In light of that information, I would recommend the R4 release over the R1 release.

Summary

    Dawson’s Creek: Season 1 is a fairly harmless show about a group of teenagers growing up together in the more privileged and isolated part of the US, taking their lessons in life from TV and wondering why they don’t match up to real life. Simply, it’s about the loss of innocence and growing up.

    The video is pretty poor, but the show hardly had the production values of contemporary Hollywood movies.

    The sound is front driven and perhaps a little flat, even for a 2.0 Dolby Surround mix.

    The extras are pretty good, but also fairly minimal. Here’s hoping that later seasons have more to provide a greater insight into this series.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, July 28, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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