Kristen Baldwin offers a sneak peek at the languishing show's new direction

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated April 24, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Why ”Dawson’s Creek” will be worth watching again

About five months ago, I lamented that ”Dawson’s Creek,” in its post-Kevin Williamson days, has gone so adrift creatively that it’s now a soggy, boring debacle of teen melodrama — as opposed to the clever and often moving teen melodrama it once was. It seems that the fans agreed: This season ”Dawson’s” is averaging 4 million viewers, far fewer than the 5.4 million followers it had in 1998-’99. The folks at the WB must have felt our pain, because they’ve recently launched a campaign to bring wayward Leery-aholics back into the Wednesday night fold. Consider this letter EW TV writers received on April 19th:

”We are proud to be sending you what we believe to be the best and most significant episode of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ this season and possibly the best since the series began… We are more convinced than ever that executive producer Greg Berlanti has brought back the heart and soul to the characters and town we all fell in love with two years ago.”

The letter goes on to point out that the aforementioned episode, ”The Longest Day,” airing May 3, ”turns the focus back to the essence of the series: Dawson, Joey, Pacey and Jen.” (Let’s all hope that means the days of plotlines like ”Jen the Trampy Cheerleader” and ”Eve the Stripper Does Dawson” are gone forever.)

So does ”The Longest Day” prove it’s time for folks to turn ”Dawson’s Creek” back on? Speaking as a fan who has tuned out in recent months, I’d say yes. [WARNING! Plot spoiler information ahead.[ It seems that Joey and Pacey, who began the series with a ”war of witty comebacks” type love/hate relationship, are now — to their horror — in loooove, and it’s finally come time to break the news to best buddy Dawson. Naturally, they keep chickening out at the last minute. Ultimately, though, there’s a weepy, overheated denouement — and darn it all if it isn’t the most dramatic, compelling, and entertaining ”Dawson’s” scene since season 1. James Van Der Beek and company serve up some high-quality histrionics, my friends.

One quibble: The writers try to heighten the suspense by playing out the story three different times from three different perspectives — Joey’s, Pacey’s, and Dawson’s — but the effect is more confusing than engaging. At first, I thought someone had edited the tape wrong; it was only after I reread the episode synopsis that the whole ”Groundhog Day”-meets-”Rashomon” effect made sense. But beyond that, ”The Longest Day” has got Joey, Pacey, and Dawson doing what they do best: making out, breaking up, and spewing overwrought dialogue (”What you intended does not provide me any solace!”). The angst is back, and if it stays, all may finally be right again in Capeside.

Dawson's Creek

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