Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 2011 Summer Re-Watch: Dawson's Creek "The Scare" Review

Kevin Williamson, less than two years after Scream and only five months since Scream 2, produced an episode of Dawson's Creek that borrowed freely from his career-making screenplays. Maybe he had no ideas left for the first season of the show. "The Scare" only references the horror movies penned by the creator. I never considered Kevin Williamson a self-indulgent writer with a massive ego but recent news about The Secret Circle, as well as subsequent comments on Deadline, altered my perception of Williamson. Maybe "The Scare" is a result of his self-indulgent massive ego. WHO KNOWS.

"The Scare" is an entirely filler episode that had been scheduled to air before "Double Date." The episode works as the 11th hour because, again, it's filler. The audience probably felt some confusion during the original airing because Pacey and Joey act as if he didn't kiss her (because he didn't yet), Cliff frets over his one last shot with Jen (even though their date went well in episode #10 but that didn't happen yet), and Dawson's dealing with the recent break-up. However, "The Scare" shouldn't be too confusing with people. I'm not sure how the scripts were written during the first season but, on ANGEL, the writers wrote a few scripts in advance without knowing when it'd be filmed or aired. "The Scare" works post-"Double Date" because Dawson feels hurt by Jen's reluctance to be with him (they had that conversation on the ferris wheel), Cliff presumably could've felt like he had one last shot with Jen because of her general indifference to all things Cliff, and Pacey and Joey would've repressed the whole kiss. TV writers cover their bases. And it's not a big deal for episode to switch around in a TV season. TheWB probably hoped the homage to Scream would boost sweeps numbers.

Now, "The Scare" pays homage to Williamson's break-out project in two or three scenes. The one scene involves Jen and a phone call that references the Drew Barrymore scene in Scream. Reference, of course, is a poor word considering the scene basically re-creates it but for TV and a different ending. In the teaser, Dawson and Joey watch I Know What You Did Last Summer (which Dawson praises) because it's Friday the 13th eve. Joey hides her eyes. Friday the 13th in Capeside's a day when Dawson pulls pranks on his friends. The wildly imaginative youth wants to spook his friends as much as possible. Joey's the most easily frightened, so she's targeted most (and the teaser ends with a scare for Joey courtesy of Dawson). The genre of horror annoys Joey because the world's full of twisted and psychotic individuals, and she sees no need for an entire genre designed to scare people and remind them of the evil in the world (these characters over-analyze). Case-in-point, Dawson switches the news on where a local anchor updates the viewers about The Lady Killer--a serial killer who murdered five women, who works in 100 mile increments which means Capeside's his next stop. The Lady Killer only exists for high tension scenes in the third and fourth act of the episodes as an unknown figure watches from the shadows outside of Leery Manor.

Dawson argued that horror movies provide "positive examples of ordinary people overcoming their worst fears and conquering evil." Joey rolls her eyes. In theory, this episode was designed for Dawson and Jen to overcome the awkwardness of their break-up...or something. Dawson and Jen are the only characters with an actual story. Both walk on egg-shells around one another. Dawson crosses her off the list of people to scare because she showed obvious disinterest in him, his interests and his life when she ended the relationship. Jen fears being excluded from his life. For whatever reason, Dawson invites Cliff and Jen over for their first date for the annual Friday the 13th séance (he actually wants to watch over her). The tension increases between the former couple as Jen urges Dawson to admit that he sent her creepy notes and made creepy phone calls to her house. The tension bursts in Dawson's room with the aforementioned "You wanted no parts of me so I excluded you" bit. Jen's more freaked because The Lady Killer's known for sending notes and making phone calls before cutting the heart out of a young female but Cliff soon tells her that he crafted those creepy pranks on her in an attempt to be as creative and imaginative as Dawson. Jen tells Cliff to be himself next time.

Dawson and Jen didn't resolve their issues. The break-up will continue to sting. The most significant scene in the episode involves Dawson and the tertiary character Ursula (who Pacey brought home from a convenience store following a fight with her crazy boyfriend, Eddie). Ursula led the séance because she's tapped into the world of spirit sisters and spirit goddesses. She sensed sexual tension and attraction between Dawson and Joey. Dawson explains that he dated Jen. Ursula notes, "You were dating the wrong girl." Meanwhile, Pacey teases Joey by promising her that she'll die a virgin because Dawson's oblivious of her obvious lust for him.

Slowly (and it's been it slow), the story is shifting towards Dawson and Joey, romantic couple; however, Dawson IS oblivious. The life-long friends have a weird conversation in the last scene about an earlier prank that involved a dead Joey. The friends agreed that they'd be inconsolable if either died (it's weird). Dawson, though, seems ready to let Jen go. Ursula's words echo in his memory but Dawson's very slow to recognize the girl right in front of him.

The rest of "The Scare" is forgettable. The séance fails, the power goes out and the crazy boyfriend shows up. The friends are freaked. In the first act, a creepy man asked Joey for directions. The creepy man's revealed to be The Lady Killer at the end of the episode (it's lame). I look forward to writing about what's to come in the final two episodes of the season. "The Scare" is just filler.

Mike White wrote the episode. Rodman Flender directed it.

UP NEXT: "Beauty Contest"--Joey competes in the Miss Windjammer beauty pageant in hopes of winning the $5,000 prize for college tuition. Pacey shocks Capeside when he also competes in the beauty pageant.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.