Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Text, Lies and Videotape (5.7)

One of the regular complaints leveled at Dawson's Creek's college years was that Joey became this omnipotent presence, positioned as a figure of awe by everyone around her and the girl literally every male character fell in love with. I haven't got a huge problem with Joey taking more of a central position on the show, but the way people seem to get entirely taken with her leaves certain storylines appearing unintentionally icky. Take her arc with Professor Wilder. This episode sees Joey continuing to attend his study group, in which he and some of his best and brightest students are analyzing old letters once written by an obscure writer who previously attended the college, and once again Wilder is talking her up like she's something especially spectacular. But we're not seeing any real evidence of that. She's being placed on this huge pedestal, and by proxy we can only see Wilder as a sleazy creep, building her up so much just to get in her pants.

It's annoying, too, as it's fun seeing Joey hanging out with new people and becoming more literary and inquisitive. But Wilder just throws a massive spanner in the works, lurking around the story like a creepy molester, and Joey's naivety over his sleaziness only makes her come off badly. So it's a half-and-half story, one element really successful, the other a ton of bleurgh.

Elsewhere, Dawson is venturing down his own "Dr. Tom Frost" saga, visiting a therapist and trying to understand his recent actions and the panic attacks he's been having since his dad died. These scenes are interesting, if lacking the amnesiac mystery that made Jen's similar thing last season so compelling. Pauley Perrette is also severely miscast as Dawson's therapist, pulling her glasses off her face every thirty seconds when she gets a sudden burst of inspiration. Gah. Annoying.

Pacey is still stuck in a strange role this season. For the last couple of episodes he's been stuck in the middle of an affair between his boss at the restaurant and Lourdes Benedicto's flirty waitress, getting angry because he's friendly with his boss's wife and freaked that he's being forced to keep the infidelity a secret. It's a story lacking in any real interest, Pacey merely left to react to two sort-of-drab guest stars, and it's hard to see where all this is going. There's some mild romantic tension between Pacey and Karen herself, but she's such a hair-brained flake that you're not left actively supporting the two of them. It's just a prolonged misfire of a story, saddling the show's most charismatic star with lifeless material.

To be honest, season five just hasn't been great so far. It's not 'early season three' levels of ugliness, but none of the major story arcs seem hugely interesting at this point, six weeks in. I continue to love the characters themselves (and Audrey remains adorable), but the narrative itself needs major work. C

Guest stars
Ken Marino (Professor David Wilder); Busy Philipps (Audrey Liddell); Lourdes Benedicto (Karen Torres); Ian Kahn (Danny Brecher); Mary-Margaret Humes (Gale Leery); Pauley Perrette (Dr. Rachel Weir); Gwendolyn Whiteside (Cassandra)
Writer Karin Lewicki Director Marita Grabiak

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