Friday, August 5, 2011

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

I was expecting to be swept away in waves of tear-soaked nostalgia from the get go, but as it turns out, memory is an unreliable bitch. Logic states that a pilot episode has to carry quite a heavy burden: establishing from scratch the basic premise, setting up all the characters and the conflicts and the storylines that will hopefully carry on for the rest of the season. Like I already said: beginnings can be awkward, and it's kind of odd to watch the pilot now and notice with adult eyes all the things the critics picked on at the time.

The theme of this episode (and hint: the rest of the season, and basically, ALL OF DAWSON'S CREEK) is basically: growing up totally sucks, especially if you are secretly in love with your best friend and unable to confess because you know they are in love with someone else.

And really – who can't identify with that? Except maybe Pacey (Joshua Jackson) who spends most of this episode establishing himself as whatever the opposite of a cougar is: he's a 15 year old boy actively pursuing his new English teacher who must be like...40? 

(One of the functions of any Pilot episode = choose your allegiance to the core characters. If you're not Team Pacey by the time he lays the verbal smackdown on Ms. Tamara Jacobs for toying with his emotions and flirting up a storm, then there is something VERY wrong with you). (Also seriously – if you're not Team Pacey...WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?)

So anyway. The pilot crams in quite a lot of info into a short amount of time.
Best friends Dawson Leery (James van der Beek) and Joey (Josephine) Potter (Katie Holmes) have known each other their whole lives but now, mid-adolescence (aged 15), they realise that their super-close friendship is changing. Well actually, only Joey realises it. Dawson is quite happy for their platonic weekend sleepovers to continue forever, seeing nothing wrong with the way things have always been, and because he can't see that Joey CLEARLY HAS MORE THAN PLATONIC FEELINGS FOR HIM.

Joey can't just confess her love to Dawson:

a) because he's her best friend, and come on, I wouldn't even recklessly recommend that AS MUCH AS I CAN'T STAND JOEY and

b) because he's openly lusting after the new girl in town, Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams, way before anyone DREAMED she would ever become a movie star) 
so instead she starts acting out in a way that is kind of ridiculously awesome.

Dawson, amazingly, doesn't get freaked out by Joey's OBSESSION with both his genitals and the length of his fingers in this episode. Or Joey's hilarious lie that she lost her virginity to a trucker named Bubba.

I think I would like Joey a LOT more if she was an evil sarcastic psycho bitch ALL THE TIME.

Aside from Pacey's pursuit of Ms. Jacobs (that ends in a kind of creepy kiss) and the Dawson-Joey-Jen love triangle, nicely setting up THE ENTIRE SIX SEASONS OF THE SHOW, we learn some other vital information that will be important going forward.

* Dawson is an aspiring filmmaker who has recruited his friends into starring in his latest film, a horror film with Pacey as a swamp creature and Joey as the victim. Joey accuses Swamp Creature Pacey of groping her during filming and forbids him from touching her, ever, which is SO IRONIC given how their relationship will play out in a couple of seasons' time.

* It's pretty incredible that Dawson isn't in therapy because his parents appear to be sex addicts who behave TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATELY in public. Seriously? Gail Leery calls Mitch Leery “Mr Man Meat” which may be the lowest point of this, or ANY DC episode.

MAN MEAT. Try and get it out of your head every time you see Mitch Leery leering.

* We meet Jen Lindley, the troubled granddaughter of Dawson's neighbour.

 She walks in beauty like... a man with severe constipation and flat feet.

Much allusion is made to her troubled past in New York despite Jen explicitly saying the way NO TEENAGER I KNOW HAS EVER SAID: “I like to have a good time, substance free”. Honestly, watching it now, her mysterious bad rep comes across as OMG SHE HAD A SIP OF WINE AND STAYED UP PAST MIDNIGHT ONE TIME BUT DON'T TELL DAWSON BECAUSE HE'LL BE SO DISAPPOINTED.
* Also Gran! I always thought Gran was actually old but THIS POOR WOMAN! They just aged her up!

Could they not find an actual old lady? 

* JOEY, I'VE ALWAYS HATED HER and I know why now.

 She pretty much spends the entire episode like this - barely concealing her disdain for Jen. It's just rude. 

Nothing Joey does makes ANY sense in the Pilot – from telling Dawson “the sleepovers have to stop”and then caving in and jumping on top of him 2 seconds later, sucked in by his floppy haired charm; to agreeing to double-date with Dawson and Jen and Pacey as a favour to her best friend and then sabotaging it in breathtaking fashion...and then explaining that sabotage, not as motivated by jealousy (UH IT WAS OBVIOUS, JO) but because “You have such a perfect life Dawson and you don't even appreciate it”. THAT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE! Don't even get me started on her whole “we can't be superclose friends anymore” thing followed by the (ridiculous-awesome) sabotage and how she then HIDES IN DAWSON'S CLOSET. WTF?

* Dawson was kind of a heart-throb when he SHUT UP ABOUT SPIELBERG for five seconds. 

Also - hilarious that the world has changed so much in a decade that part of the evidence for Dawson's passion for film is that he knows a ''little-known fact'' about Psycho. Whereas today: HELLO WIKIPEDIA? Anyone can look that shit up, you're not a special and unique (irritatingly precocious) flower, Dawson.  Rewatch note to self: mobile phones and the internet are not big 'things' yet in 1998. (Really? Can that even be true?) 

* Dawson begins a long tradition of crazy eyes

and awkward behaviour around females (except when he is unbelievably incredibly smooth in comparison to Pacey trying to chat up a Ms Jacobs). The show, for example opens with Joey and Dawson discussing body hair and Dawson's growing genitals. Just try not to visualise that now.
* NOSTALGIA ALERT. The 90s is due a revival like, RIGHT NOW. I predict that this will wear off within a few episodes but one of the high points of the episode for me = Freshfaced Dawson sees his new crush Jen sitting on the pier, and this glorious song kicks in:

It's an underwhelming start to the series but the last couple of minutes saves it for me. I still remembered the lines, even years later: "JOEY! Usually in the morning, with Katy Couric!"  When the pilot ENDS with a supremely swoontastic reference masturbation... then things can only get INCREDIBLY AWESOME from here on in. 


  1. IGNORE THE FORMATTING ISSUES :( Blogger is ignoring all my attempts to edit them

  2. Dawson is SO LAME I can't believe you think he was at all dreamy (he's so cheeseball and his face looks like ham). Joey is borderline retarded and obsessed with genitalia. Jen I guess is supposed to be streetwise and 'mature' because she's from the big city and everything but when Grams was like 'you are going to church' and Jen says 'no, please respect my beliefs' and then she tried to make her grandmother say penis - I thought, give the woman a break Jen, her husband has just NEARLY DIED and is an INVALID; the whole reason you're there is to help so just GO TO FREAKING CHURCH ALREADY and stop embarrassing your Nana who is an OLD WOMAN. Also as my big sister, I would like to ask why you never stopped me as I was leaving the house so you could invade my personal space by applying slut-red lipstick directly to my mouth and then expecting me to thank you. Thank god for Pacey.

  3. Also, how weird to think that Joey will grow to be the woman responsible for giving the world Suri Cruise. Time does weird things.

  4. To be fair, none of them get hot until later on. Even Pacey has a weird hair thing going on. ITS ABOUT THEIR PERSONALITIES when determining allegiance (ooh good message DC) and clearly Pacey wins. From episode 1. Because as we will soon see, Dawson is UNSTABLE.

    I just started writing a defence of Joey's retardation but I need to save this as apparently people are planning on actually reading this blog. I'M TEAM JOEY THOUGH WHO KNEW

  5. I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE DOING THIS. And yes, I had an unhealthy girlcrush on Joey during the entire run of this show, even though she infuriated me to no end. I even tried to appropriate that smirk/lopsided smile of hers for a while when I was 18. Ridic. I missed a few seasons in between (the Busy Phillips stage) so I can't wait to follow this blog obsessively. Oh and yeah. I thought Dawson was dreamy, but had a latent crush on Pacey who became OMAHGOD SO AWESOME in later seasons. But something in me (the Bollywood addict?) still has a weird feeling that it should have been Dawson-Joey in the end. I totally blame Bollywood and it's 'pehla pyar' brainwashing.

  6. The interesting thing about this project is that already, through my adult eyes, everything I thought I felt about Dawson's Creek is being challenged. Except I STILL LOVE IT LIKE WHOA (just sometimes now I find I love it for being cracktastically hilarious, when I'm pretty sure as I teen I TOTALLY bought into everything like, deeply and heartfeltly. Though there is still some of that going on. What? SHUT UP JUDGERS).

  7. Yup cell phones and the Internet were not a big thing in 1998. I remember being one of the "cool" ones with a brick of a cell phone that year. And I think the Internet really exploded in the following year or two.

  8. I am beside my self with glee.