Thursday, February 7, 2013

Twin Peaks

The television series Twin Peaks' original run was from April 8th, 1990 to June 10th, 1991. During that time, I was 8 to 10 years old, so I probably was not mature enough to appreciate it. For years, the only thing that I really knew of it was the parody sketch that they did on Saturday Night Live. I recall being intrigued by this sketch despite not understanding the context. (As a side note, watching it now, it's cool to see Conan O'Brien in a sketch and Victoria Jackson before she went batshit crazy.) The memory of this stuck with me and, finally, after over two decades, I decided to give the series a shot. 

Ignoring the fact that, sometimes, the chronology of fictional media is intended to be consumed in a wibbly wobbly way, I started my viewing with the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which aired in 1992. My initial reaction was, "Da fuck did I just watch?" I realized too late that I should have researched it more thoroughly beforehand. Not having watched the series, I had no context for all of Twin Peaks' idiosyncrasies and surreal happenings. This brought up many questions which I eagerly wanted answered. Thus I ended up with a compelling reason to watch the show, despite much of the mystique of Laura Palmer's murder already being ruined. Truthfully, I found the film to be melodramatic and badly acted. I also, however, found its surreal retro campiness to be appealing. I attribute this mostly to 1) the quirkiness of the setting and many of the characters and 2) my suspicion that, like movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Mean Guns, the nature of Twin Peaks is intentionally tongue-in-cheek. Also, for some reason, I have a soft spot for a spectacle of tacky early 1990s fashion. 

I've read that the creators of the show felt that the storyline went downhill after they were forced by the studio to reveal Laura's killer. I'm not sure if I am in the minority of fans or not, but, sometime in the second season, I actually began to tire of that initial plot line and started to enjoy the show more after they moved on from it. Before that point, the show relied too heavily on sappy soap opera moments. I'm still uncertain if these scenes were supposed to be parodying soap operas or they were done in earnest. Either way, they were getting tiresome. Speaking of such, though I felt bad for her, I was getting tired of Josie, as well.

You would think that, being a fan of The X-Files and having a crush on David Duchovny, I would have known long ago that he was on Twin Peaks. I even recall, years ago, finding a picture online of him in drag. I somehow, however, remained oblivious until his entrance and was pleasantly surprised by his character. David is quite good at playing a trans person and Denise was a damn good character. I would have liked to have seen more of her on the show.

Why did certain characters barely get any screen time? All-of-a-sudden, Donna Hayward had sisters and then...what...were they shipped off to boarding school? In general, why did the town of Twin Peaks have such a notable lack of children..and pets, for that matter? As for Mrs. Horne, I understand that Ben wanted to hide a lot of things from his wife, but it's like the writers forgot for a while that they had created her. In particular, where the hell was she while he was having a nervous breakdown? I was actually surprised when she showed up at the Hayward's house.

Seeing as how the movie was made after the show, it's understandable that the show doesn't mention David Bowie's or Chris Isaak's characters. If they started up the series again, though, it would be cool to see their stories expanded.

It was cool to see Molly Shannon, if only briefly.

Sundry brief observations:

In dialogue, they occasionally use the wrong character names. For example, there's a scene in which Donna is on the phone with Ed and Nadine comes on the line. Donna calls her "Annette." Am I missing something here?

Nadine's age is said to be 35, but Ed and Norma talk about how they broke up 25 years ago. From previous context, their breakup was established to be around the end of high school. From what I gathered, they are all supposed to be around the same age. So...huh?

At least one person who worked on the show had a great love of pan-up-from-feet camera shots.

I don't know who I want to bang more: Dale Cooper or Jack Wheeler. Oh, hell, just give me both at once...and include Audrey for good measure.

I was amused when I realized that I write somewhat similarly to how Cooper speaks.

If there were an award for the most unresolved cliffhangers in a television show, I'm fairly certain that Twin Peaks would be a clear winner. I would love to see them continue the story.

Update: They are continuing the story!