The All-Nighter tries so hard to be another Detention that it winds up being pretty soulless. The format is exactly the same, with the Dawson's Creek ensemble tossed together in one location and having their deepest secrets exposed. Only instead of Abby Morgan being the instigator, this time it's the all-together less charismatic Jane magazine. It also suffers from there not being a whole lot of juicy secret-keeping lately. We all wanted Joey's crush on Dawson to be revealed last year, but I don't think anybody cares all that much if Andie finds out about Pacey's fling with Tamara. Eh. It's all a little weak.
Andie herself is a major annoyance here. I've grown to like her over the last couple of episodes, but The All-Nighter rests on her least attractive qualities. Her jealousy over Tamara feels misplaced, even if it's only coming from her own insecurity, while her frantic nerves over the mid-terms bug like nothing else. While I'm enjoying Pacey and Andie together, the show needs to avoid returning to the same dramatic well every single week, since it's not fun seeing them get angry at each other and then make-up all in the space of thirty minutes.
Issues also plague the fallout to Dawson and Joey's break-up. I touched on it last week, but it's jarring to see Dawson portrayed as the victim in this as we always saw the story from Joey's perspective -- Dawson the clueless love interest who had no idea that she liked him. Watching Dawson get ridiculous and angry over Joey's actions just comes off as strange.
Finally, it's additionally annoying to see Jen treated like a victim once again. I'm assuming the WB wouldn't allow the character to actually enjoy casual sex, which explains why she winds up being seduced into bed by a rich asshole and then treated cruelly the following morning. She deserves better than ritual humiliation.
David Semel's direction lifts straight from John Hughes and creates some iconic Dawson's Creek imagery, but the episode itself lacks any of the punch or sparkage of Detention. And when that was such a seminal episode for the show, any limp sequel will automatically suffer in comparison. The All-Nighter is watchable, and the final montage of studying is a lot of fun, but struggles to be anything deeper. C
Guest stars Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Jason Behr (Chris Wolfe); Brighton Hertford (Dina Wolfe)
Writer Greg Berlanti Director David Semel