Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dawson's Creek: After Hours (5.21)

It's hard to create drama for happy couples. Romantic contentment is believable and true to life, but lacks the attention-grabbing histrionics that make so many drama series like catnip for audiences. I can only think of two long-running series, Friday Night Lights and Medium, that allowed its lead couples to just be, and not get plagued by affairs or cheating or resentments. I bring this up because Dawson's Creek unsurprisingly went down the infidelity route this week, saddling Pacey and Audrey with a predictable pot-boiler story instigated by a mysterious third party that we still don't totally understand as a character. For a couple who, up to this week, seemed so connected and perfect for each other, it's frustrating that the writers decided to travel down this road with so little effort.

Sherilyn Fenn's Alex Pearl is still an enigma right now. There was something about how she burst into Pacey's apartment at 2am asking for a tour that made me wonder if she's insane. But insanity has only ever been depicted on this show as sad and challenging: the Andie McPhee School of Mental Problems. Not "OMG, she's going to attack you with an axe"-insanity. Alex seems to fit into the latter category, and I'm not sure that's right for Dawson's Creek. Even worse is Pacey's willingness to jump her bones. It again feels regressive. Maybe if this were season one, then I'd accept it. But Pacey has had this incredible emotional journey over the years, thanks to both Andie and Joey's guidance, and it's unlikely he'd cheat on Audrey, especially with somebody he has no emotional connection with. Blah. Character assassination, kids.

If After Hours did anything else, it was promote the fact that film fans are annoying. I consider myself a huge movie buff, and conversation about entertainment comes far easier to me than conversation about, gosh, food or sports or whatever. So it scared me somewhat that Dawson's cloying discussions about film and filmmaking with critic-lady Amy were so cringe-worthy. We get it, you like the movies! Gah. They just go on and on this week, everything always coming back around to critical debate and analyzing which was the better Soderbergh project. Cram it, people!

I guess their fling was a little cute, especially the part about shoes giving a better impression of a man than anything else (you probably had to be there), but the entertainment-talk got old after a while. Maybe Dawson works better bouncing off somebody a little less knowledgeable about his interests. Otherwise it's just too dry.

Studying folded into Joey and Jack's subplots this week. Joey did nothing but get annoyed at the various parties distracting her in the library, while Jack at least got a kind of resolution when it came to his closeted frat monster bro Eric, who he ended up cramming with over the weekend. Where's Jen during all this, though? I'm assuming Michelle Williams was off filming one of her depressing indies at this point. An Imaginary Heroes or a United States of Leland. And don't see those movies, whatever you do. Really.

After Hours bugged at points, but generally fell on the right side of infuriating most of the time. I'm not at all sure where this season is going, but I guess I'm still finding the show entertaining nonetheless. B-

Guest stars
Sherilyn Fenn (Alex Pearl); Busy Philipps (Audrey Liddell); Meredith Salenger (Amy Lloyd); Ryan Bittle (Eric)
Writer Jeffrey Stepakoff Director Mel Damski

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