The episode starts off as expected: James Van Der Beek (James Van Der Beek) receives a letter from his Dawson’s Creek costars wanting to know if he’ll join them on a reunion tour. June, being a big Dawson’s fan, gets excited at the news, until learning that James receives those letters every year – and turns them down mostly just because he can. June decides to take the offensive, and talks him into agreeing to do the reunion show for all the fans.
Chloe (Krysten Ritter) is strangely upset with June for convincing him to agree to it, until she reveals that the letters are fake. It turns out that Chloe had been sending them to James every year because he liked the power of turning them down. Of course, the benefit for Chloe in this was that the power high meant that he was willing to hang out with her and pay for them to attend events that he normally wouldn’t – like a fashion show.
After knocking June out with a tranquilizer to get her out of the way, Chloe tells James that she faked the letters and tries to convince him that a reunion would be terrible. She makes him watch videos of the many bad reunion shows over the years – from Growing Pains to The Facts of Life. Initially he agrees with her, but soon changes his mind thanks to June‘s influences and his own ideas about how great it would be to do the reunion. However, at this point, the episode takes a turn for the unexpected. James’ feelings are hurt when he learns that the rest of the cast isn’t willing to do the reunion with him. Their reason? Because they hate him.
One of his former costars Busy Phillips meets up with him in secret, telling him that the Dawson’s cast would basically disown her if they saw her hanging out with James. He just wants to know why they all hate him because, as far as he was aware, they all ended the show on great terms. Busy reminds him about his idea for the cast to order rowboats for the entire crew as a parting gift. The reason everyone hates him is because he never helped pay for his share of the boats.
Meanwhile, June (Dreama Walker) calls her old friends back home to tell them about the Dawson’s Creek reunion only to become depressed when she hears about how great each of their lives are going. None of them are interested or have the time to be concerned about a potential Dawson’s Creek reunion, which gets June thinking about how much her life sucks compared to ten years ago.
Later, deciding that he doesn’t need the rest of the cast [after all, he's Dawson] to have a reunion show, James heads out to the supermarket to find Frankie Muniz, also known as Malcolm of Malcolm in the Middle. Talking with Frankie, James tries to convince him to do a Malcolm reunion, though with James’ character Dawson thrown into the story. Understandably, Frankie is not convinced, and manages to escape when Chloe shows up to try and make James realize how bad of an idea it is.
In the end, Chloe calls Mark-Paul Gosselaar [Zack from Saved By the Bell] to talk some sense into James. While Mark-Paul and James chat, Chloe manages to cheer June up by pointing out that her friends’ stories are basically written out for the rest of their lives – as they will be busy with careers and children. June, on the other hand, has an unplanned future – and thus many more possibilities than her friends back in Indiana.
Of course, Chloe realizes she’s offering some good advice and making June happy, so she immediately shuts down. Eventually, Mark-Paul convinces James to get rid of all his old Dawson’s Creek stuff so that he can let go of the past. What is the best way to do that? The gang takes his stuff out to the park and lights it on fire.
In all, it’s a pretty strong return for the show, particularly with the guest appearances. In what could have been a confusing mess of random guest stars was written in such a way that the viewer was subtly reminded of what show each guest star represented without making it seem like an information dump.
Though the episode is titled “The Reunion…,” it actually turned out to be more of a blast-from-the-past of characters from our favorite television shows than the implied Dawson’s Creek reunion. As Nahnatchka Kahn, the show’s creator, told THR in an interview, the episode was intended to be a comedic reunion for the Dawson’s Creek cast, but scheduling conflicts prevented that from becoming reality.
Whereas some shows might then scrap the reunion idea and come up with a new track, Apartment 23 not only kept the reunion theme, but managed to make it seem natural and still incorporate a “reunion” of sorts.
[Though, fortunately, Kahn also noted that there was still a possibility of re-exploring that option sometime in the future when the Dawson's cast would actually be able to fit it in their schedules - and not in the ""Hollywood" way discussed in this week's episode.]
That said, this was a great episode – and a fun way to kick off a new season. What is great about Apartment 23 is that it has a sense of humor, and the wonderful guest stars – who anyone with a TV in the last couple decades would know – don’t take themselves too seriously. Like Van Der Beek, they are able to make fun of themselves and their past characters. If this premiere is any indication of what’s to come, I think we’re in for an interesting and entertaining season.
As mentioned earlier in the week, the next Apartment 23 episode is Halloween themed. The episode airs next Tuesday, October 30th at 9:30pm EST.
Episode 2.02 “Love and Monsters…” Synopsis: Halloween is June’s favorite holiday, and even more so this year now that she is single! However when she discovers that Chloe plays elaborate Halloween “tricks” every year, June becomes consumed with stopping her before Chloe really hurts someone she might actually care about. Meanwhile due to a deep-rooted childhood fear of Halloween, James throws his annual Halloween “Positivity” Party.