"Jen is a cheerleader and Jack's on the football team. I got sane and everyone else went crazy?" That's how Andie (Meredith Monroe) sums up the topsy-turvy beginning to the third season of Dawson's Creek
, in which nothing seems to be as it should and the series takes a major turn. It's junior year at Capeside High, and Jack (Kerr Smith), the town's resident gay teen, is indeed on the football team, and Jen (Michelle Williams) finds herself the object of unexpected and unwelcome popularity among her fellow students, especially the freshman quarterback (Michael Pitt). Pacey (Joshua Jackson) finds that his relationship with Andie can't be restored, and Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes), after the events of last year, both think it's for the best that they're no longer together--they just never think it at the same time. Significant events include the friends starting to date outside their circle, Dawson's giving up some of his aspirations, a crisis for the school's new principal, a college tour, and the openings of the Potter Bed & Breakfast and Leery's Fresh Fish. But the Dawson-Joey relationship is still the heart of the Creek
, and it comes to a head in one of the series' most memorable episodes, "The Longest Day," and then the season finale. Even in its first season without series creator Kevin Williamson, Dawson's Creek
still had plenty of punch.
On the DVDs, executive producer Paul Stupin does his usual commentary track for two episodes, and he's joined by Kerr Smith. They discuss the series itself, Smith's character, and Smith's subsequent career more than the events of the episodes. The second-season DVD set disappointed many fans by replacing a large portion of the music, and that trend continues in the third season, most surprisingly in the loss of Paula Cole's theme song. Instead, the opening credits feature Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad," which was used briefly in the international broadcast. Stupin explains the switch as an attempt to do something different and creative, but then admits there was also "a bit of an economic reality." Fortunately, the DVDs do have John Lennon's "Imagine" and Mary Beth Maziarz's "Daydream Believers"--songs that in dramatic context simply could not have been replaced--and it could be argued that a veteran viewer might skip the opening credits anyway. Still, for many fans, the music made Dawson's Creek what it was, and without all of it--especially the theme song--the DVDs seem like a compromise rather than a permanent keepsake. --David Horiuchi