It's Halloween for the B and Co. and I hoped it would mean we'd see the Joey to our Dawson, but no. There was no Joey. There was no Jen. There was no Grams or Jack or Andy or Pacey. Nothing. In fact, we learn JVDB (James Van Der Beek) hates Halloween. He's afraid. Like, actually scared. This one time, his dad made him watch a scary movie on Christmas and it ruined him for life. What a baby. And so instead of focusing on our flannel friend, we get a closer look into Chloe's soul. Her good-natured, soft even, heart. We think.
June (Dreama Walker) and Chloe (Krysten Ritter) discover that they both LOVE Halloween! It's something they can finally agree on. They giggle and squeal and jump around at this shared love, and I'm a bit concerned as to where creepy peeping neighbor man is. This is his Pay-Per-View moment of the week and he's all playing with a yo-yo in his bathroom or something. JVDB enters in the perfect fall plaid shirt and skips over to the counter. He chatters on about his Halloween Evite which, when we finally get to see it, is basically a Powerpuff Girls meets Teletubby cartoon-like figure bopping around the screen squeaking about a party. It's time to go.
And so June and pal Mark (Eric André) head to the movie theater for a much-needed pre-Halloween chick flick. Something simple and pointless starring Katherine Heigl, of course. Right as they get cozy, June spots Chloe finding a nook in some dark-haired stranger's neck. She can't have a boyfriend, can she? It sure looks like it as she dips her hand into his... popcorn and gazes into his eyes. June knows Chloe wouldn't be caught dead at a chick flick normally, so something is not right. Not right at all.
SO, June invites Chloe's new boy over for dinner to get to the bottom of it -- and she is speechless, for once. And not because he's wearing a pajama-like Tee that shows his muscles in all the right places. C and hot boy are laughing and smiling and cuddling and even finishing each other's sentences. It's madness, really! You'd think it was all a sham, all some sort of Halloween hoax. And guess what? It is. Yep. Chloe tells June that for the past three years, she has apparently been "targeting" people on Halloween. And by "targeting," she means she's lying through her Crest White Stripped teeth figuring out strangers' deepest fears and then devising a way to make it a reality for them in one year. It's super realistic and completely normal and it's one of Chloe's greatest accomplishments. Apparently, she's been "dating" this one boy for a year, even though I've never seen him, ever, (and I'd remember), and now that Halloween's rolling around, it's time for the "Pump and Dump." Don't feel like explaining that one in detail.
Back to the costumes. So, at the Halloween party where Chloe plans to reveal her evil plan to gorgeous stranger, June is floating around all cutesy in her journey hobbit girl of self-discovery outfit. She is SUCH a supporting actress. She'll never be in the spotlight because all she does is worry about other people's problems and wallow over being single. Someone needs to get the girl a slutty outfit and a bout of confidence pronto. Anyway, she tries to stop Chloe, but no can do, they're already en route to his "hometown bedroom" where she plans to finish him off.
But the tables have turned. Right as Chloe gets a grain of humanity and decides she doesn't want to hurt him, the wavy-haired hunk tells her the trick has been on HER this WHOLE DAMN TIME. He's been getting her to act out her biggest fear: a chick flick. Every "monumental moment" in their relationship has taken place in the most corniest of ways. And in a twist of fate, Chloe gets a taste of her own bitter medicine. He tells her he's going to be leaving the country the next day, and perhaps she will just chase him right through the airport, sealing the fate of a chick flick gal's ways. Of course, we know she won't.
Or will she?
Chloe decides that by going to the airport and telling him that she actually likes him, he won't know whether she's still f****** around or if she actually means it! It's a brilliant plan. And that is exactly what she does. It may have been true love, it may not have been, but at least in the end Chloe wins. Or so she thinks. We'll never truly know
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The B is back, people! And I'm not talking about Chloe (Krysten Ritter), I'm talking about Dawson James Van Der Beek, of course!
Not only is our favorite flannel-wearing Spielberg fan here for our inner-teen amusement — or if you're me, every day genuine entertainment — but more lovable Creek kids are popping up this season, too. Then there's June (Dreama Walker). Dear, sweet June bug. She really took a beating Season 1, huh? From the cheating fiance to raising a grown child (well, sort of), to being slapped at a wedding, to having a disturbing affair with crazy Chloe's dad (yep!), this chick had it bad. Through it all, a friendship did come out of the random Craigs List rooming, even if it is absolutely dysfunctional. But isn't that why we love the gang in Apt. 23? Now, time for new shenanigans!
James Van Der Beek's Funeral?
A viking funeral in Central Park, to be exact. Chloe, in all black (veil included) explains to the crew the sad misfortune, but before we get any of the juicy details we're forced into a flashback, what else. So...
Two Weeks Earlier
Chloe wisps her bangs out of her face to let June in on a little secret about her sweater resembling a pumpkin that mated with a turd, which is actually quite affectionate coming from the B. They're about to have a real breakthrough moment, as June inches closer to Chloe, hoping to hear what she's always dreamed of: That she's like a sister to Chloe. That living together was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. Just as they're about to have this embrace, which obviously definitely was so going to happen, JVDB enters the room with MASSIVE news. They both turn. Whatever could it be, they bounce up eagerly...
I Don't Wanna Wait
Well OF COURSE it's about the Dawson's Creek 10-year reunion! Dawson is all ripping up the letter that invites him and the rest of the A-team (Joey, Pacey, Jen, come on, guys!) because he's King James now! He's the Lenon AND the McCartney of the group and they need him, he says. So, instead of convincing him that a reunion IS the best thing, Chloe says it's time to party and they frolic to the tents for fashion week. At least June is upset. In fact, she really takes it out on the muffins at her coffee shop job. And you know what?! I feel for her. I too would LOVE a Dawson's Creek reunion. I think about it all the time. Pacey seeing Joey one more time, wiping a stray strand of hair behind her ear, whispering the words we all know too well: "I remember everything." All the while, Dawson is trying to reconnect with Jen, trying to get her to see that he can still be her boy adventure. It would be too good. June knows it (her boob size went up a cup size, for crying out loud!) and I know it. And yet JVDB can't seem to grasp the realness of it all. The magic that would come of it. At least not yet. Moving on...
After attending the fashion show (front row, of course), June surprises Chloe and Dawson with a makeshift slideshow including the reasons why he MUST agree to be in the reunion. Hell, there's even a Dawson as Simba slide that, I mean, there's no way you can say no to Simba. No way. Dawson comes to his senses: "This is bigger than me. I need to do a reunion. For the fans. I'M KING JAMES!" But then Chloe drops a bombshell, which must, IT MUST, be false: "I'm his fans," she says. "I'm the one that writes all the letters." Please be lying Chloe, please...
But She's Not
"He shouldn't relive the past by doing some stupid reunion show," Chloe says, confirming the pen ink she's used for every letter. She loves the power, she says! And who can blame her. Every year JVDB rejects the Dawson's Creek reunion letter, making him feel invincible and therefore falls to Chloe's feet, ready to do whatever she commands. Doesn't make all that much sense, but let's just go with it. And so the battle is on. Chloe vs. June on the future of the reunion show. But Chloe isn't messing around. Nope. This is no amateur house. The B takes it one step further and actually shoots June with some sort of device that leaves her passed out for 6 HOURS. When she finally awakens from her deep slumber, dreaming of a reunion that would get her high school friends so insanely jealous and proud of grown-up New York City girl June, D says he won't do the reunion. He says Chloe has told him everything! The fake fans, the misspelled names, all of it. Dawson and June separately think-walk and end up crossing paths (in their minds? It's not very clear), but naturally in black and white. And the verdict is in: The reunion will, it will happen. June wins, until she hears...
Dawson Is Lying
JVDB says that Michelle, Katie and Josh are SO into the reunion. He says it's happening! So we can all celebrate, right? Wrong. Apparently, they all HATE Dawson. "They hate you!" he hears. And they're not doing the reunion. Nope. They'll only do it "the Hollywood way" (whatever that means). So, where do you go from here?
You all remember Audrey Liddell, right? She was Joey's quirky, alcoholic, but SO FUN roommate in college, who eventually started dating Pacey for a short time until he realized that he needed to be back with Joey. His one true love. Like the boat he made: "True Love." From scratch. ANYWAY, so Audrey is all like "You gypped us on the finale present, duh! That's why we hate you! We were stuck with a bill for 145 boats, James! I had to sell my horse Cha-Cha!" And though Dawson wants to make amends, Busy states that it's just simply too late for that.
"My Life Was Better 10 Years Ago"
Dawson and June reflect on their current s**ty lives. Obviously Dawson's life was better 10 years ago – and June, well poor June was just a little, innocent girl from Indiana with dream of living in the big city. Things seemed simpler back then, hopeful even. And now. Well look at them! Sure they have beautifully knit sweaters on with matching v-neck angles and jawlines made to cut stone, but at the end of the day, they're both just lonely. Lonely and looking for a place to call home. Real home. The Creek, if you will. Chloe perks up at their misery, well #duh, and urges them to snap out of it. And while she's still "The B in Apt. 23" the girl has got a point! And anyway, all the moping around is more depressing than the time D did this. "Get to your room and put on something I don't like," Chloe demands in her most maternal way possible.
Something Better. Bigger.
Dawson has a revelation, people! "I don't need those guys," he says loud and poud. "It wasn't Pacey, Joey or Jen's creek!" And for the first time I find myself on D-Man's side. It was his creek after all. First up: Frankie Muniz. JVDB finds him in the grocery store and tries to persuade him to do a reunion show. Not exactly a Dawson's Creek reunion, but you know, something like that. Chloe finds Dawson through Grindr, but of course, and tries to put a stop to Dawson's lunacy. And she does so by wiping him out. Good girl, Chloe. Good.
Who better to calm Dawson's pipe dream of a full-blown reunion than to bring in the one and only Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)? He admits he too has tried to accost Muniz (at a zoo, no less) and that was perhaps his breaking point. That was the moment he knew that he needed to break free from dreams of Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) wrapping her slender arms around his neck, telling him his bedspreads weren't lame. That his highlights gave her the chills and that, if nothing else, his volleyball skills would stay in her mind forever. "Have you read my book, amigo?" Morris asks Leery. "It's called 'Finding the Now.'" They have a similar problem, Zacky says. They both have been living in hopes of resurrecting the past. And Dawson concedes, and with that goes his entire memorabilia. In a fire in the Central Park river. "The funeral." And though it wasn't actually JVDB the man who had died, it was his spirit: the spirt of Dawson. But if you ask me, it will live on forever, whether or not he looks back at all.
[Image Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC]
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Will Will Truman get lucky? Will Chandler and Monica tie the knot? Will Dawson and Pacey make up? And what's up with "Popular"?!
Those are some of the questions that have been posed and that will be answered during the fall season of television.
Herein is a critique of the fall seasons of 10 TV series that Hollywood.com staffers watch on a weekly basis:
"Will & Grace," NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET
Is "Will & Grace," the as-of-late-sometimes-hilarious sitcom about a gay man named Will Truman (Eric McCormack, who looks tan and really sexy this season), his best gay friend Jack McFarland (the always funny, over the top Emmy winner Sean Hayes), his best female friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing), and her lush of a socialite "employee" Karen Walker (Emmy winner Megan Mullally), falling from, er, grace this season? "Will & Grace" sadly has been spotty since its Emmy win for Best Comedy. McCormack has said that Will will date this season and have a number of boyfriends. The guest spot a few weeks back by Patrick Dempsey as one of those alleged future boyfriends was funny, and the exchange among Dempsey, McCormack and Hayes in Banana Republic (dancer-actor-singer-choreographer Jack is now a Banana Republic sales associate, headphones and all) was witty and pretty and ... well, you know. But last week's much-hyped guest spot by Cher was totally disappointing. The writing was weak for most of the episode, guest star Camryn Manheim was wasted and Cher appeared in only the last few minutes. What we needed was a half hour of "Jack & Cher." Here's hoping that Will hooks up with Mr. Banana Republic. Life is about the Banana, after all. Go, girlfriend. Grade: B-
"Friends," NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET
Some shows grind to a halt after two characters get together, but the pairing of Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry), who are set to wed this season, has created more hijinks than ever. They have created the funniest storylines of the season: Monica consults an elaborate wedding binder she's been keeping since 4th grade, only to find out that her parents spent her wedding fund on a beach house. Chandler keeps having embarrassing moments with his future father-in-law (Elliott Gould) and finds that he can't smile in photographs. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) compete for maid of honor (Phoebe wins, but lets Rachel do it because it means more to her). Meanwhile, the non-wedding-related storylines have fallen to the wayside: Rachel has hired a cute younger assistant she can't date; Joey's pilot gets canceled, and Phoebe just found out that her grandmother's secret cookie recipe is from Nestle Tollhouse. Ross (David Schwimmer), other than a memory-lane kiss with Rachel, is so far unlucky in love. But, in the funniest episode of the season, he finds an unlikely snuggling partner in Joey when the two accidentally nap together -- and like it. Grade: B+
"The West Wing," NBC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
This Emmy winner started its second season with a bang -- quite literally. After the cliffhanger from the end of the first season, wherein President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) were shot, the two-hour opener took viewers from the present to the past. The episode cleverly gave the audience the background of why Bartlet first got on the campaign trail and showed how his extraordinary staff was assembled, all while juxtaposed with the assassination crisis. And the show doesn't seem to be stopping, creating scenarios that mirror the current social and political climate -- including some controversial racial conflict. The cast is still outstanding -- including Emmy winners Allison Janney as Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Richard Schiff as Communications Director Toby Ziegler. Guest spots by the likes of Timothy Busfield and John Laroquette added heart and intensity to the behind-the-scenes storylines. But the heart of the show remains Sheen as the wise and truthful President Bartlet, and given the current real-life situation in the political world, Bartlet would be considered a godsend. Grade: A
"Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
Though "Everybody Loves Raymond" does not tend to build upon storylines episode to episode, it has shown some resourcefulness this season. Bringing in guest stars such as Robert Culp as Debra Barone's (Emmy winner Patricia Heaton) dad was a nice touch, especially when it led to a hilarious dispute between in-laws. But the show has been quite hit-or-miss lately. Ray (Ray Romano) developing a fear of germs, for example -- interesting but not funny, especially for a character who already has three young children. Just a breakdown of logic there. Ray's brother Robert, the divorced cop (played with deadpan precision by Brad Garrett), has also been curiously underused thus far. Grade: B-
"ER," NBC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET
The best thing America's top drama -- for the past six seasons -- has done so far is not add any new characters. Drs. Greene and Corday (Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston) have gotten engaged; Dr. Kovac (the very hunky Goran Visjnic) is feeling guilt over a guy he accidentally killed during a mugging; and Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) is back from rehab and peeing in a cup whenever he's asked. Dr. Chen (Ming-Na) is pregnant by a doctor at another hospital; Dr. Benton (Eriq LaSalle) lost his surgical attending position and is now "demoted" to an ER post; and there are hints that Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes) is mulling a lesbian relationship. Oh yes, and they treat people, too. The strongest episodes are still the medical-oriented cases, especially the 22-week-old "miracle baby" who survived nearly an entire day. Medical student/nurse Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) is emerging as the emotional core, letting us miss Sherry Stringfield and Julianna Margulies a little less. What's left to do is to use more of Michael Michele, who plays pediatric resident Dr. Cleo Finch. "ER" is not consistently great, but it still keeps our pulses pounding. Grade: B
"Dawson's Creek," WB, Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET
Last year ended with Joey (Katie Holmes) sailing into the sunset with Pacey (Joshua Jackson), leaving her best friend/soul mate Dawson (James Van Der Beek) weeping and alone. It's a good choice because Holmes and Jackson have decidedly better chemistry, and although they dispense the same amount of SAT-filled sentences (meanwhile Pacey is flunking school) as Joey and Dawson, this new couple have snappier arguments/flirtations. This season: Joey's repairing her friendship with Dawson, who's trying to move on by taking pictures and finding a new confidante in Pacey's older sister (Sasha Alexander), particularly after his parents discover that they're having another baby. Pacey and Dawson take (very small) steps toward reconciliation after the former's boat is swept into a storm and the latter risks his neck to save him. Jen (Michelle Williams) is temporarily ostracized from the group -- and from best friend Jack (Kerr Smith) -- when she lets the already medicated Andie (Meredith Monroe) try Ecstasy at a rave, causing her to collapse and nearly die. But it's Andie who gives the fractured group a chance to heal again when she announces that she's leaving Capeside to spend the rest of the year in Italy (she already got into Harvard early, dontcha know). In her tearjerking farewell, she implores her friends to make up, and it looks as if they will. Grade: B+
"Frasier," NBC, Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET
In the early '90s -- in its third season -- "Seinfeld" began to structure its episodes around the supporting characters, not the title character. Suddenly, the same seems true about "Frasier." While the love affair between Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves) seemed to be the hook to get viewers back into the show early this fall, it remained the hook throughout most of the season. And it worked. Their relationship has spawned a number of morose storylines thus far, with ex-wives and ex-fiancees plotting against the likable couple, but Frasier himself seems to have been pushed aside, stuck with adequate conflicts such as his displeasure with his wealthy new boss. But it still works. And Niles pretending to still be married in social circles is surprisingly hilarious each time. Grade: B+
"Spin City," ABC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
No, you can't blame Charlie Sheen alone for "Spin City's" decline in popularity. It really comes down to the writing. Only one episode of "Spin City" this fall has been impressive -- the one where Sheen and Heather Locklear lock horns on the set of "Live With Regis" -- but little else has proven to be much of a surprise. Sure, Sheen's character, the deputy mayor of New York, is narcissistic, and yes, he has a tainted history with drugs, but didn't we already expect that? It's not Sheen's fault that this sort of cliched writing took place. It's not Locklear's fault that she has little chemistry with him. And it's not the viewers' fault for wanting to change the channel - even though it means the certain demise of one of their previously most beloved shows. We miss ya, Mike. Grade: C-
"Popular," WB, Fridays, 9 p.m. ET
The WB's "Popular" is one of the most underrated and funniest shows on television. It's sad that it's been relegated to a Friday night spot. The show boasts a fabulous ensemble cast of pretty people vs. Everyday people, although the two sides have been mingling more and more. School stud turned social pariah Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson) has hooked up with tree-hugger Lily Esposito (Tamara Mello) after the pair rescued a gay chimpanzee from the L.A. Zoo. It's a lame pairing, but player-player Josh has already hooked up with the rest of the ladies on the show, so I guess Lil' Lily was next. Alarming this season: Instead of funny gags such as kidnapping Gwyneth Paltrow's personal shopper and competing ruthlessly for Homecoming Queen, "Popular" has turned to Very Special Episodes. Harrison John (Christopher Gorham) is battling leukemia, Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels) has cried ... twice(!) ... over her fall from popularity, Carmen Ferrera's (Sara Rue) mother is an alcoholic, and both reigning Homecoming Queen Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) and Mike "Sugar Daddy" Bernadino are battling eating disorders. Not very funny stuff. This season has been more about tears over sadness and struggles rather than laughter. As Mary Cherry (the always hilarious Leslie Grossman) would say, let's get some laughs back, hon. And pronto! Grade: B-
"Ally McBeal," Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
After a disappointing third season, David E. Kelley's series was in need of some serious spice. Kelley tried everything to raise ratings, from a lesbian lip-lock to some full-blown musical mishmash, but nothing could save the sinking show. In a final act of desperation, Kelley brought in a fresh-from-the-cell Robert Downey Jr. Little did Kelley know that the criminal element would bring such critical success this fall. As a cute, clever attorney named Larry, Downey's straight but sarcastic delivery is the perfect foil for Ally's (Calista Flockhart) high-strung hysteria. He steals every scene with his flawless timing, then punctuates even the simplest sentence with that trademark sexy smirk. Downey may have been sent in to rekindle the spark, but his presence has set the show on fire and made "Ally McBeal" a must-see on Monday nights again. Grade: B+
Reviews by Jason Alcorn, Kit Bowen, Tracey Pollack, Ellen A. Kim and Don Chareunsy.