Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dawson's Creek: Sex and Violence (6.17)

This is Dawson's Creek's first out-and-out comedy episode in a long time, an hour that wades through various romantic comedy cliches with considerable finesse and fun, while getting all meta and knowing like the very best of the first couple of seasons. After a year of false starts and suppressive blandness, Dawson finally stumbles into an entertaining subplot, pitching a movie about young adults growing up in a small coastal town. The only problem is the head of the studio is more interested in putting the 'adult' in 'young adult', slowly turning a Creek Daze re-run into a movie called Sunset Stripped featuring, as he so eloquently describes, "wall-to-wall boobs". This is obviously ridiculous, but admittedly funny.

There's also a nice ripped-from-reality sense of humor here, Dawson having to increase the trash during the pitch and writing in some of the more absurd moments from Dawson's Creek history, like a character sleeping with his teacher, or the arrival of a mysterious stranger who pretends to be a high school student and moonlights as a stripper. Ick. Remember her? The story is crazy funny, covered in 'commercial Hollywood' cliches but featuring James Van Der Beek at his bemused best and a strong turn from Nicole Bilderback as a traditional butt-kissing D-girl.

Joey and Pacey's subplot also manages to rise above the ridiculous this week, Joey getting a short-lived gig as Pacey's assistant and managing to humiliate him into realizing how creepy he is while hanging out with his stockbroker buddies. It's all too silly, while Joey's coffee-spilling revenge on Sarah Shahi comes off as almost mentally unbalanced, but it's hard not to love her and Pacey sniping at each other for about a century before dramatically embracing in one of those "God, I need you" clinches that never ever happens in reality but somehow became romantic comedy gold in and around 1949.

Where the episode stumbles, unsurprisingly, is with the increasingly directionless Jen. C.J. continues to be this flaky, weirdly dickish love interest, this week whining that Jen isn't having sex with him enough, and deciding that she was probably a better lover when she was being badly treated by those shady New Yorkers who were taking advantage of her back in the day. There are so many things wrong with this story, primarily the fact that C.J. is still being positioned as a swoon-worthy lunk of man romance, when he's increasingly looking like a total tool. I liked Grams' taking control of their sex issues (that probably didn't read terribly well), but generally this whole story bugged. I kind of wish they'd abandon all these romantic subplots for Jen. Can't they just write her and Jack into wacky gay adventures every week? That would probably be more fun.

Sex and Violence doesn't know what to do with Jen, but everywhere else is probably the funniest episode in a while -- almost proud of the fact that it's entirely generic and ridiculous, but somehow working in spite of it. B

Credits
Guest stars
Oliver Hudson (Eddie Doling); Jensen Ackles (C.J.); Paul Gleason (Larry Newman); Nicole Bilderback (Heather Tracy); Hal Ozsan (Todd Carr); Dana Ashbrook (Rich Rinaldi); Sarah Shahi (Sadia Shaw)
Writers Anna Fricke, Tom Kapinos Director Frank Perl

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