Abby Morgan, RIP
starring James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Michele Scarabelli as Mrs Morgan
In February of 1999, Michele travelled to North Carolina to film an episode of Dawson’s Creek. In April of 1999 that episode was broadcast in America; while UK viewers had to wait until July 1999 (with a second showing early in August of the same year).
Dawson’s Creek is a teen series centred around the lives and (mis)fortunes of a small group of friends. Unlike many other teen series, Dawson’s Creek is one from which you can obtain a great sense of continuity due to the high standard of story-telling and the general high-quality of acting. For this reason it is recommended that you watch a minimum of four preceeding episodes before settling down to watch this one. There are so many other things going on that you could be forgiven for being a little confused if you take this episode in isolation.
Michele’s episode Abby Morgan RIP follows this strength of continuity as it is a direct continuation of the previous episode in which the character Abby Morgan died during a drink induced accident. It tells the tale of the lead in and the funeral of Abby – made all the more interesting for the fact that, barring one exception, everyone hated Abby. Or, to be more precise, this time including that one exception, Abby hated everyone.
Michele plays the part of Abby‘s mother who, as you would expect, knew little of this hatred and only believed that her little girl had many kind friends.
Michele’s first (and only talking) scene is early in the episode when she meets with Andie and Pacey. Believing Andie to be a close friend of her daughter’s, Mrs Morgan persuades her to give Abby’s eulogy. This provides the main “feed” for the episode in which Andie’s eulogy highlights how little there was to like about Abby (although, you have to admit, the eulogy is a good one!).
The episode then continues centred, as it is, around the teenagers.
As the funeral service begins, Abby’s “friends” are called upon to say a few words and this is when the distraught Mrs Morgan starts to get an idea that there weren’t as many friends of her daughter’s as she had thought. The first person to speak up is Abby’s friend but the speech doesn’t meet with wide approval from anyone – least of all the tearful Mrs Morgan. This is followed by Andie’s eulogy in which the negative points of Abby are shown to have been more positive than one would have thought.
Throughout the service, Mrs Morgan is continually full of tears.
As is usual for Dawson’s Creek the story doesn’t end there for the teenagers. It does, however, for Mrs Morgan (with the exception of a few more tears beside Abby’s grave).
Although she doesn’t have enough lines or screen impact to have the chance to define the character of Mrs Morgan, Michele gives a very lovely and moving portrayal of the distraught mother. It’s always a great pleasure to see Michele on-screen no matter how little her character is allowed to do.
When asked about her appearance in Dawson’s Creek, Michele recalls…
"I play the mother of a girl who has been the bane of everyone's existence, and who drowns after a party one evening. Lots of tearful scenes. I have the ability to be able to cry almost on cue, which helps in getting these parts. Everyone was wonderful to work with..."
With the exception of the multitude of tears, Michele’s Mrs Morgan is reminiscent of other characters Michele has played during funeral scenes – such as in the film The Wrong Woman.