Dawson's Creek - Third Season (DVD, 2004, 4-Disc Set) Reviews
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Dawson's Creek - Third Season (DVD, 2004, 4-Disc Set)

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Joey and Pacey Can't Save Season Three

Mar 23, 2007 (Updated Mar 27, 2007)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The developing romance between Joey and Pacey

Cons:First 8 episodes are terrible. Dawson more annoying than ever. Other character underused.

The Bottom Line: The 3rd season of Dawson's Creek was a step back for the show, and only recommended for fans of the series.

At the end of the 2nd season of Dawson's Creek, Kevin Williamson decided to leave the show to pursue other projects. Sometimes this can breathe life into a show, giving it an injection of new ideas and a fresh outlook on the characters. Of course, that happens when the ideas are good. Unfortunately, the 3rd season of Dawson's Creek suffered due to a disastrous change in style that added nothing to the characters.

Season three skipped the summer months and started as the gang was getting ready for their junior year of high school. After their breakup at the end of season two, Joey (Katie Holmes) tried to get Dawson (James Van Der Beek) back, but he rejected her and they began to grow apart. Dawson asked Pacey (Josh Jackson) to look after her, a decision that would prove fateful. Andie (Meredith Monroe) has been in a psychiatric clinic over the summer, but when she returned it was clear things would never be the same between her and Pacey. Meanwhile, Jack dealt with his sexuality while Jen was pursued by a freshman football player.

No longer with Joey, Dawson had some ridiculous adventures at the beginning of the season. He ran into the seductive Eve Whitman (Brittany Daniel), who had a mysterious past. Eve was portrayed as a femme fatale that constantly kept getting Dawson into trouble, sometimes in embarrassing sexual situations. It seems that the idea behind her character was to make the show a little steamier and inject a sense of mystery into the storylines, but nobody wanted that. The essence of Dawson's Creek was sentimental cheesiness. It's fine to try and shake things up, but not when you go against the very nature of the show. Eve was such a terrible character that she was dispatched after the 5th episode of the season and was never mentioned again.

With Eve out of the way, the season had a chance to rebound. Unfortunately, there were a few roadblocks. It wasn't until the 8th episode when they were finally able to completely dispense with her storyline. Before that, there was also an episode called "Escape From Witch Island", which remains the single worst episode of the entire series. The idea was to do a spoof of The Blair Witch Project as the gang travels to Witch Island to help Dawson with a documentary. There were many ways to satirize Blair Witch, and we saw countless versions over the years, but this was one of the worst. Everyone seemed to act out of character and not a single moment had an inspired joke.

It's rumored that at this point, the cast got together and went up to the producers demanding that changes be made to improve the quality of the show. Whether or not this is true, it's clear that changes were made. From the 9th episode on, Dawson's Creek returned to its sentimental roots. It wasn't completely successful, but at least the rest of the season was watchable and at times reached the heights of season 2.

What nearly saved the season was the developing romance between Pacey and Joey. From the beginning they had been the two most interesting characters, and even showed strong chemistry in their limited screen time together. The show further explored that chemistry in season 3 and we got to see their relationship slowly develop. Katie Holmes and Josh Jackson were terrific together and really sold this storyline. The writers clearly realized how good they had it and made this the main focus for the rest of the season, shoving everyone else (including Dawson) off to the side. The moments between Joey and Pacey were superb and worth watching on their own even if you can't stand the rest of the show.

Unfortunately, the Pacey-Joey romance could not save the season on its own. There were still plenty of problems afoot. The show still had problems figuring out what to do with Jen, and a romance they tried to develop between her and freshman football player Henry (Michael Pitts) went nowhere. A decision to pair her with Jack and create a sort of Will and Grace friendship was a good idea. Unfortunately, the writers didn't know how to create interesting stories for either of them, so they mostly were stuck in the background as a result. Also, with Kevin Williamson gone, it seemed like the remaining writers weren't interested in exploring Jack's sexuality. The would mention prejudice that he faced from time to time, but hypocritically shied away from exploring his dating life for most of the season.

In season 2, the show had rebuilt Dawson's character and made him somewhat likeable. However, as season 3 progressed toward the Pacey and Joey romance, Dawson took a nosedive. When he found out about the relationship, he was furious. This is understandable to a point. However, they went completely overboard with his anger. At one point, he purposefully crashed his boat into Pacey's during a sailboat race. He also acted like he owned Joey, treating her as a possession and threatening that he would never be her friend again unless she refused to see Pacey. Van Der Beek's acting certainly didn't help matters. In the season finale, he has a big crying scene that is so poorly acted it became instantly hilarious. Dawson was ruined from here on out and would never be an interesting character again.

Once again, Dawson's Creek managed to deliver a few standout episodes. In "To Green With Love", Pacey rallied the school in support of Joey, whose mural was destroyed by snobbish rich kids who were protected by the school board. The rebellious spirit of this episode brought back fond memories of "Donna Martin Graduates!" "The Longest Day" cleverly shook up the usual structure by telling a story from several different perspectives, as Pacey and Joey struggled with their decision on whether to tell Dawson about their relationship. And as usual, Dawson's Creek put together a highly emotional finale that was very satisfying for the fans.

Without Kevin Williamson, Dawson's Creek struggled to remain an addictive teen show. All the work done in season 2 to make the characters more fully developed was done away with by a stupid change in tone at the beginning of season 3. The writers figured out their mistake, but it was too late to save the season. Still, the Pacey-Joey storyline was superb and the later season episodes are worth watching solely for them. Just make sure you skip any Dawson scenes.

Reviews of other seasons:

Dawson's Creek - First Season
Dawson's Creek - Second Season
Dawson's Creek - Fourth Season
Dawson's Creek - Fifth Season
Dawson's Creek - Sixth Season

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