Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Twin Peaks: Joining the Cool Kids

I'm so glad that I can finally sit with the cool kids at the lunch table. No more of this, "Who is Laura Palmer?" embarrassment or pretending that I know who BOB is. Yes, you can all welcome me into the group because I've experienced Twin Peaks for myself. After watching the series in only a few short weeks and finally ending today with Fire Walk With Me, I'm ready to talk.

Let it be known that I had certain expectations going into Twin Peaks. I expected scene after scene of oddity and visions of scary things that would have surely put me into a coma had I seen them when I was little. I expected an intriguing mystery and the signature style of David Lynch echoing off every wall in the room. Mostly however I expected the creepy--and I got it, sort of.

Here is what I think about Twin Peaks:

If I could play both Cooper's dream and the ending scene in the Black Lodge repeatedly throughout my day, I would be simultaneously happy and terrified.

I LOVE these parts--a little too much to be frank. I find myself alone in my bedroom trying to mimic the strange dance steps of the midget in the red suit.

I practice speaking backwards when I'm trying to fall asleep late at night. These scenes are the ones that slap you in the face and yell really loudly---LYNCH! I knew he was hiding somewhere.

To be honest even though it pains me a little to say this--I can really only say that I like Twin Peaks.

Like, I LIKE you Twin Peaks. (Yes that is a Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Quote, thank you very much)

But. And a big but, I love the episodes that David Lynch directs.

Anything else feels like a lack luster detective series in a sleepy town--which is exactly what Twin Peaks is. The difference is that when David Lynch is calling the shots, the lack luster detective series gets sprinkled with some very exciting and exotic spices. Don't hate on me. I can tell you're hating on me and it's fine. As with most things I experience, I'm late to the party so all the purists have a small right to call me out.

Here's the thing though. I have an outside point of view at all of this. I'm watching the entire series in a consecutive line and finishing with the film. There is some good and bad news because of this. The good news is that all those people crying that Fire Walk With Me is completely different from the TV show are wrong (it's exactly like it only with boobs) and the bad news is that I can understand why it got cancelled prematurely.

The fact is--the show felt just as I explained it above. Really amazing and awesome in some parts and episodes, and terribly boring and pointless in others. There feels like something was missing in Twin Peaks short running. The characters were there and they were great. The story however felt much too pulled in different directions--with only one story being very interesting and important to the ultimate question.

It IS the death of Laura Palmer that excites people the most after all.

It's that supernatural element that gets people amped up and curious about how things will unfold. Even when Laura's killer is revealed prematurely--we still crave what happens because we know that BOB is not finished yet. He didn't die--the idea of him and the vision of his face still exists. The Black Lodge still exists. So maybe that is what Twin Peaks needed in the end-- a little focus.

Still though, one cannot deny that I do love several aspects of both the show and the film. I love the quirkiness. The oddball aspect. I love Kyle Maclachlan

and the camaraderie happening between he and his police boys. I love the terrifying visions of BOB, lurking either just out of sight or completely in your face.

I love the little things---like those subtle David Lynch trademarks; a singer or performer in a bar, clueless detectives, and driving on long highways. I love the Log Lady with a deep and confusing passion.

Fire Walk With Me additionally paints a stunning portrait of Laura Palmer's last days. This film although received coldly by most--was the perfect thing to do with leftover Twin Peaks scraps. Like I said earlier, we all (probably) only cared about Laura Palmer. And even though Sheryl Lee is a terrible over-acter, her entire story and the eventual collapse of her mind and body is both horrifying and depressing. Plus, it brings back the creepy with the midget in the red suit and BOB and Mike. Plus there is cocaine and boobs. And a really, really scary "nightclub" that makes me cry.

So please do not take my thoughts as attacks against Twin Peaks. I do love it and I love this whole world that Lynch and Frost created. It gave me something to come home to at least, something to look forward to. Sure, it may not have lived up to my expectations, but in the end---I can go dancing with the midget in the red suit all I want.

That is all I really need after all.

I'll talk about Twin Peaks again and one of these days we can get together and swap theories and play truth or dare. Because there is A LOT to discuss obviously....and so much I still don't understand. Sigh.

Also, the next time someone makes me angry I'm going to be wishing that a BOB comes into your bedroom late at night. So be careful what you say.


David said...

A very well written and considered piece as usual Andre.

I watched Twin Peaks when it first aired in the UK, and sadly some idiot at my school spoiled the killer reveal, but, from (long, long ago memory) I still really enjoyed it.

However, I have the DVD boxset here waiting for the right time to watch it again, and this has prompted me to do this sooner rather than later :)

lazlo azavaar said...

The owls are not what they seem.

Christine Hadden said...

Thank you so much for your honesty in this post! As a rabid TP fan, I can absolutely see the validity in all your points. It was a hot mess of a show, but one I could never turn away from, with all it's creepy imagery and weird-ass characters... Those swinging traffic lights, the obsession with damn good coffee and cherry pie, and that wacky midget.. God I miss this show!
Glad you finally got to experience it, every Lynch fan should.
We need to discuss further....

Dod said...

Welcome to the table!

Isn't that final sequence in the Black Lodge the BEST? I had to include it on my list of moments that give me the heebie-jeebies. Doppelganger Laura is nightmare fuel.

And it's true that the episodes that Lynch directs are the absolute best.

The French Waffle said...

I have to hand it to you, this was a very well written review. For some reason during the first few months of spring I get an intense craving for David Lynch and Twin Peaks. I absolutely adore the character and setting (I grew up near North Bend so its basically all my backyard, by the way Twede's Cafe [the double R] serves amazing food and mind blowing cherry pie) I completely agree with you on the storyline being pulled in several directions however it is understandable that they had to come up with something else when the network pressured them into revealing Laura's killer. Did I mention how much I love these characters and how developed and dimensional they are? Albert is perhaps my favorite example of this. One more thing, I really feel the music plays (PUN) a large role in setting the tone, almost becoming a character itself. If only we could all dance to jazzy music with little people in red suits...In the mean time enjoy a nice piece of pie and a fresh hot cup of coffee.

Greg said...

OMG, this is so freakin' weird! I just spent the past few days actually watching Twin Peaks myself! Though I can't get past the 2nd half of season 2. After the solving of the murder, the quality of the show gets so bad. :-( And it's such a fantastic show too, what the heck?

Karl Brezdin said...

Thoughtful and succinct deconstruction of the series and you hit on a lot of things I love and disliked about the show. I'll admit I really love the series but not so much that I'll willfully ignore its flaws. And it did turn me on to the joys of black coffee.

The comparatively short run has/had a two-fold effect for me. The stretches of brilliance and consistent weirdness get played up and overshadow the lulls and the series probably gets overrated as a result. On the flipside, the lows are amplified though I do think this is an issue endemic to episodic media. (For as amazing as The Wire was, there were definitely a few clunkers in an otherwise stellar run of programming). Can't know for sure, but I suspect the creators knew they were on borrowed time with respect to the series' cancellation, and a lot of elements that probably would have been handled over longer arcs got chopped and shoe-horned into an already convoluted Lynchian universe.

Question, though: it's been two years since I went on the Twin Peaks bender myself, and I've still neglected to watch Fire Walk With Me. With that amount of space between series and film, am I any better or worse off for it?

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks everyone for accepting me into the cool group ; )

Karl-- hmmmmmmmm, In all honesty, I don't think you really need a refresher before Fire Walk With Me. Most of it is new info, with a few echoes of what we saw in the show. Maybe just do a quick summary recap, although DO NOT and I repeat do not go on Wikipedia. When I read through the summary last night, the person had written that the LOG LADY had killed Laura Palmer. I was beside myself with anger.

But anyways, I'm sure you'll be just as confused not doing a refresher than if you didn't.
It's just a confusing film, that Twin Peaks fans sort of understand (but aren't willing to admit they actually understand nothing : )

Kristi From Spirits said...

Hell, I never understood HALF of what was happening in Twin Peaks, right up until the end, but I kind of love it anyway. I never did watch the movie. I guess I should do that.

My husband has never seen Twin Peaks; he's an avid watcher of the show Psych though, and they did a take-off TP episode a few months back. It was pretty hilarious, and I was able to explain most of the jokes to him. I'll have to make him sit and watch TP with me one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Great write-up Andre. I have an unwavering love of this show, I confess, and I like to think of it as an "unofficial sequel" to Blue Velvet, where Jeffery Beaumont became addicted to adventure (and small logging towns) after his run-in with Frank Booth, grew up, changed his name, and joined the FBI.

And, I just have to say this: My wife just got a job teaching at a school called TWIN PEAKS ACADEMY, starting at the beginning of the next school year. I'm TOTALLY going to steal a shirt from one of the other members of the staff.