Top positive review
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Better than it gets credit for...
on April 2, 2005
Ignore the haters, Season Five is one of the series' best. While nothing will touch the freshman year of Seasons One and Two, Season Five benefits from a welcome change of scenery. Capeside was getting tired by the end of Season Three, and Four seemed like the same old conflicts reiterated again. The series needed to breathe, and it found new wind in sending Dawson off to California and the rest of the clan off to Boston.
Throwing the characters into the new realm of post-secondary adds freshness to the series, as the gang is able to experience new and more age-oriented conflicts, like fraternity angst, career-path uncertainty and the perils of being away from home. The series would even stretch itself creatively with the new location change, with an interesting two-parter with Joey and a life-changing situation.
Not only is the change of scenery rife with interesting new experiences, but the actual subject matter of Season Five has much more dramatic weight than the comparatively lackluster Season Four. Dawson does some real soul searching, Pacey copes with the hardships of being a failure, and there is a death with an emotional impact that makes Abby Morgan's farewell in Season Two seems like small stuff.
We also get a new regular, Audrey, "Freaks and Geeks" breakout Busy Phillips, and she adds a feistiness to the series that had been lost after Abby's departure in Season Two. While Audrey's character would become a writing snafu in Season Six (constantly reiterating the same old tired drug/alcohol abuse story), her, Joey and Pacey have some really strong moments in this season. Jack's homosexuality is treated much more comfortably here than it was in any other season, and Jen is surprisingly loveable in Season Five, which is nice considering how grating she was becoming with all her angst throughout Seasons Two to Four.
All the characters really do grow in this season, and some of the entire series' best moments can be found within. Joey's sing-song at the bar is a celebration of her newfound individuality apart from Dawson or Pacey, the funeral service for the death victim and a tender moment between Dawson and Jen after nearly breaking up all rank up there in emotional impact with the Season One finale.
Those who badmouth Season Five are mostly, from what I can gather, Joshua Jackson lovers who just can't get past the fact that the series is called "Dawson's Creek" and not "Pacey and Joey's Creek". Pacey and Joey share some wonderful moments in Seasons Three, Four and Six, but it is nice that they get a breather in Five. Those looking for the Pacey-Joey drama of previous seasons will be stubbornly disappointed, but those looking for a fresh return to the essence of the show will no doubt appreciate Season Five. It is easily the most underappreciated season in the series, and hopefully this DVD release will allow fans to revisit and reappraise this great season. Enjoy it while you can, because Season Six is a rough ride...
Fans should know a couple things about this 5th Season DVD release. Firstly, the music is again changed, including the Paula Cole theme song. While this has been common practice for the last couple seasons, this one takes it a step further. In the funeral episode, which in the series' original run was the only episode to have entirely different music and credits, has instead been replaced with the Jann Arden opening. The original opening for this episode had a beautifully somber instrumental version of Paula Cole's theme song (performed by Adam Fields) that was set to images of a cloudy Capeside. It was beautiful, but on this release it is no longer. A real shame.
Secondly, the other big change on this release compared to the previous ones is the total lack of extras. The Paul Stupin commentaries that we have all anticipated and loved each year have now been discontinued. No trivia games, Capeside map, behind-the-scenes interviews, nothing. Considering Season 5 was such a big change for the series, you'd think they would have had Paul come in and dish out on his creation. He even spoke of his excitement to do so on the commentary for Season 4. Alas, we get a couple previews for other shows on disc one, and the rest of the three discs are completely empty. Season 5 is a great enough season to warrent purchase on its own, but the lack of extras is a real slap in the face to fans who have stuck by this series so long on both TV and now DVD. Given that it is Sony I can't say that I am all that surprised, but I hope they rectify their mistakes for the final season. Please, Sony, bring the commentaries back!