One of the biggest reasons I enjoy television so much is because it allows me to escape the incredible boredom that passes for my life, and for a little while anyway, take in somebody else's problems and live in their lives.
This is certainly the case with Dawson's Creek. I never watched the show when it was on the air until the last few episodes, but I have enjoyed the first four DVD sets and was interested to see how the show changed once the kids left Capeside for college.
As season five begins, we find Dawson at film school in California, Joey at Worthington College in Boston and Jack and Jen close by at Boston Bay College. Pacey, fresh off his summer working on a yacht, is living in a boat in Boston Harbor and as the season begins, only Jen knows he is there.
Things change quickly for everyone as the season gets under way. Dawson realizes that he misses being with Joey and decides he wants to move to Boston to be near her. But the sudden death of his father changes everything, pushing him away from Joey and eventually into a relationship with Jen. Jack quickly joins a fraternity and his brothers soon begin to take priority over school and his high school friends. Pacey realizes that he has a talent for cooking when he gets a job in a restaurant and Joey finds herself attracted to her professor.
James Van Der Beek is again solid as Dawson, though you have a hard time, as in years past, believing that he is the age that he is. The dialogue throughout the series has always been over the top, which is really what makes the show what it is. His emotion at the death of his father, and his need to be there for his mother is heart wrenching at times. He finally confronts his feelings by going to a therapist to sort out his feelings. It is these emotions that lead him to his relationship with Jen, one that ends before the season concludes, but brings back memories for viewers from the original season of the show.
Michelle Williams as Jen really sees a variety of different roles throughout the season. You see her as the girlfriend to Dawson, but as the relationship slowly begins to fade, you see her trying not to hurt his feelings, yet still keep herself somewhat sane. Her friendship with Jack goes from hot to cold to back to hot again and at the end of the season, she is off to spend the summer with her parents.
As Jack, Kerr Smith is again a strong member of the cast. He confronts a lot of emotions when he joins a fraternity and finds out that he is simply being used to fill a quota. Eventually the fact that he is gay leads him to leave the fraternity. While he is there however, he takes to drinking way too much, and falls behind in his schoolwork and also becomes estranged from Jen for a period of time, a relationship that heals by the season's end.
Joshua Jackson's Pacey is the one character of the group that is not in college, but he is living nearby in a friend's boat as the season begins. Eventually he takes a job at a restaurant and finds out that he has a real talent for it and is put in charge of the kitchen when his boss leaves. He also begins a relationship with Audrey (Busy Phillips), Joey's college roomate, a relationship that reminds one of the relationship he had with Joey, something that really makes him happy.
Of course Katie Holmes as Joey Potter was one of the most beautiful women on television at the time and in this season, you get to see her as a college freshman. Her almost affair with a professor and her attraction to a guy who cheated on Jen show a different side to Joey Potter than most people are used to after four years of getting to know her. Perhaps her best episode of the series was the one where she was mugged and helped the mugger after he was hit by a car. This episode featured just this story line and was very powerful.
Busy Phillips, as Audrey, guest starred in almost every episode and was added as a series regular in t he final season. Mary Beth Piel's Grams is still a cast regular, as she moves to Boston and houses Jen, Jack and eventually Dawson. She really is a fantastic character, one that provides that motherly advice that young people always need. Mary Margaret Humes, a cast regular for the first four years, appears sporadically as Dawson's mom Gail. John Wesley Shipp also appears in a few episodes as Mitch Leery, before he dies in a car crash. The third former cast regular Nina Repeta, appears in a few episodes as Joey's sister Bessie.
Of course there is the guest star appearances of a couple of people from other shows. Chad Michael Murray is now the star of One Tree Hill. Sherrilyn Fenn was on a number of shows, including Twin Peaks. Phillips was on Freaks and Geeks.
This set could have easily been rated five stars from this reviewer, but there were no extras at all. Each of the other four sets has at least a commentary track or two for the fans, but this set featured nothing, which was disappointing. Also, the theme song is again replaced, which is what viewers have come to expect over the last few seasons. It would be nice if they brought back Paula Cole for season six, but I kind of doubt it will happen.