Creator Kevin Williamson based Dawson's Creek on his own youth, and sure, the characters may not really look or sound 15, but the Dawson-Joey-Jen interplay--especially embodied by the sad-eyed and cynical (but still adorable) Joey and the smart but emotionally inept Dawson--gives the show its heart. And just like Williamson's fresh take on the teen-horror genre, Scream, Dawson's Creek has a winking self-awareness, for example when Dawson says they're having a "90210 moment" or explains that they use big words because they watch too many movies. Highlights of the first season include Dawson's discovery that his perfect home life may not be so perfect, an unwelcome reminder of Jen's past, the Breakfast Club takeoff "Detention," the Scream takeoff "The Scare," a beauty contest in which two unlikely competitors square off, and the heart-rending finale.
On the DVDs, Williamson and producer Kevin Stubin have a commentary track for both the pilot episode and the last episode, in which they offer parallels between the two "bookends," notes on the locations, vast praise for their cast and affection for the show, and a few spoilers regarding subsequent seasons. Williamson and Stubin also do all the talking in an 8-minute featurette "From Day One," while Van Der Beek, Holmes, Jackson, and (briefly) Williams discuss their characters in the 7-minute "Season One Time Capsule," recorded back when the series premiered. On the downside, picture quality is sometimes quite grainy, perhaps because all 13 episodes plus bonuses are squeezed onto three discs. --David Horiuchi