Friday, January 25, 2013

Dawson's Creek: Everything Put Together Falls Apart (6.9)

Dawson's Creek has recently had this tendency to let story guide the narrative rather than its characters. It's something that plagues most serialized dramas in their later seasons, but it's particularly noticeable on a show that was at one point so driven by emotions and feelings rather than soapy contrivance. This episode was all about characters randomly doing things that didn't have a ton of internal logic behind them, every story being all about the surface and entirely falling apart when actually analyzed or remotely thought about. It leaves the show itself at a strange crossroads, stories already drab and uninteresting, but anchored by characters that don't even ring true anymore.

The weirdness was most notable with Professor Hetson here. When Joey misses two hours of her three-hour test because she's busy boning Eddie, she sees it as the beginning of the end for her entire college life. Hetson refuses to let her re-do the paper, which is fine. But then he shows up at the bar, practically gloating over her failure and then targeting Eddie, theorizing that deep down he must resent Joey for being a "real" student, and that Eddie could never match up to Joey's greatness as a person, with dreams and hopes, Eddie being some abject loser in life. Why Hetson is acting like an abusive twelve year-old, I don't know. Why a person in huge authority is actively interested in becoming so intimately involved with a couple of his students, it's never explained. It's just another strange plot device, leading to some presumably romantic closer in which Eddie punches him out, but lacking in anything remotely resembling reality.

Folding into this confusion is Pacey's subplot. Clearly the show has decided to pair him up with Emma, and this week sees him begging her to attend a work function as his date. She shows, dressed in a punky ensemble decorated with safety-pins (woo, hardcore!), is ridiculed by Pacey's co-workers, and then discovers that the stockbroker with the hottest girlfriend wins a thousand bucks at the end of the night. No, none of this makes sense, and no, Pacey's involvement isn't explained all that well either (his get-out is that he genuinely believed Emma would be the hottest girl there, which is... still crass and offensive), but the story ends with them making out back at the apartment. Again, major contrivance written to ensure a specific ending. It's too sloppy.

Finally, it's becoming increasingly difficult to care about Dawson and Natasha. There's always awkwardness when a show signs an actor up for a specific amount of episodes, bring them on as a love interest, but only afterwards finding it impossible to create any romantic sparkage on-screen. So we still have Bianca Kajlich hanging around, hooking up with her co-star and making Dawson all jealous. It's almost funny how small the stakes are here, the actors trying to create meaning or emotion when there's absolutely nothing on the page to support them. For the sake of his entire character, Dawson needs to get off this movie set as quickly as possible.

As an aside, why is Todd's film so terrible? It seems to be some awkward disco-horror pastiche, full of Saturday Night Fever dancing and masked psychopaths. But the dialogue is like something out of a bad David Zucker movie, and it's ridiculous that Todd is making this while being best buddies with Spielberg. Those two worlds never merge in reality. I guess I'm just asking why the writers feel the need to make the movie-within-the-show so hammy? Why couldn't it just be a legit low-budget slasher flick that at least aspires to be sort of fun and interesting? Gah.

This was another disappointing episode. Half the cast doesn't appear, and the others are stuck in these universally ridiculous storylines where little makes sense anymore. I miss my show. D

Guest stars
Oliver Hudson (Eddie Doling); Eddie Cahill (Max Winter); Megan Gray (Emma Jones); Roger Howarth (Professor Greg Hetson); Hal Ozsan (Todd Carr); Dana Ashbrook (Rich Rinaldi); Bianca Kajlich (Natasha Kelly)
Writer Maggie Friedman Director Kerr Smith

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