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TV: Twin Peaks


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#1 Quintus

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

I'll just leave this here...

Finally wrapped up this phase with the movie, Fire Walk With Me. It was a mostly disappointing waste of its two hour runtime - why didn't Lynch use his good fortune to be permitted a follow up movie to tie up the loose ends of the series instead of giving us a prequel we didn't need? It wasn't a truly bad movie, but it wasn't particularly necessary, either. Appetite was not sated.

But the Twin Peaks show itself is sublime. At a time when Dallas and Dynasty were the peak (easy pun) of conventional serial entertainment in the States, Peaks came along, pulled the rug from under their feet and paved the way for a new wave of rich and stupendously original American tv mini-series. That was twenty years ago, and it hasn't aged a day. Better late than never, as they say.

The characters, ah the characters; I've never known a show to feature such a diverse cast of eclectic and deliously written personalities - it would be so easy to talk about Kyle Maclachlan's universally beloved Agent Cooper, with his endless quirks and effortless commitment to his duty, his unwavering heroism in the face of fear of failure - since he is absolutely just the tip of the iceberg. In the entire thirty two episodes of its run, I can't think of a single character who wasn't at some point given something to do, who wasn't fleshed out, a backstory revealed - that they managed to be intriguing subplots of their own is clearly part of the shows enduring appeal - there's so much there to get your teeth into, and to return to. One of the best buddy duos in either tv or film are found in Cooper and Sheriff Truman, Robocop's Bob Morton as a sociopathic FBI forensic genius (with a heart of gold), Sherilyn Fenn's über-sexpot daughter (WHAT happened to her?) of season one's villain - rich would-be megalomaniac Ben Horne in his pined interior hotel, Piper Laurie's devious bitch Catherine Martell, her poor estranged husband (who right at the beginning found The Body "wrapped in plastic"), the gormlessly likeable police deputy and his slightly less daft receptionist girlfriend, the list truly does go on and on; all gifted some beautifully observed mood music in the form of lazy jazz and eerie synth - the soundtrack often as addictive as meth and as under-your-skin disturbing as only the very best soundscapes can be. As with the numerous and unique sets which soon become places of dreamy viewer comfort, it's the perfect marriage of music, characters and place - to the point that they become inseparable. Yeah, you can keep your bland Lost line-up, thanks.

And it's all so cheesy, so kitsch, so hilarious, so dark. At times frightening - who killed Laura Palmer indeed? Are they even human? With a cast of potential suspects as large as this, it's little wonder audiences were gripped to their boxes back in the day - I watched episodes back-to-back in my haste to get to the reveal to end all reveals. Famously (as it turns out), the answer came along a bit too soon - under the pressure of idiot execs who were worried about ratings - just a few episodes into the final second season the Laura Palmer case is all but wrapped up, fantastically well I might add - some of the greatest scenes I've ever had the pleasure to watch in all of tv, but from there onwards the writers really struggle to keep up the barnstorming momentum of what went before. Subplots get lazy and dreadfully contrived (and boring), worse still - a major new plot is introduced which takes up a lot of show time but in the end goes absolutely nowhere! Fuck you - gimme back my Twin Peaks! There's still so much story left from the Laura Palmer case and they waste everybodys time with this? Her pretty face over the end credits even becomes irrelevent and strangely awkward - the story has largely moved on from her and yet here she is again with her theme playing as the credits roll. Why? A new villain is introduced, or should I say, the Joker descends onto the town to reap havock from his hut in the woods. There are still moments here and there that are utterly worthwhile and important, but in general the overriding feeling is one of annoyance - to the point you start to wonder why you're still even watching. And then it gets good again. Ooo yes. Lynch returns to the helm, and tv history is made.

The last couple of episodes are absolute gold. The finale is, at the very least, subliminally known to almost everyone over the age of thirty. Lynch mounts a scarlet red climax so nightmarish and thoroughly weird (yet somehow decipherable) that I fall to my knees and bow down to the man in awe. The nonsense we endured before it is instantly forgiven; Twin Peaks may have been sadly cut short by stupid tv execs, but boy did we get an ending. I can understand how many must have hated it, felt robbed when it first aired, but as a coda it was just way, way ahead of time. Audiences may well have congratulated themselves for feeling intelligent enough to enjoy a serial which wasn't as straightforward and literal as Dallas back then, but were suddenly thrown into disarray by what Lynch was asking of them as the credits rolled. It would happen again some years later, with The Sopranos.

I've watched it all now, but the fascination continues. I must have spent nearly as much time googling the show, it's characters, the actors, the creators, the lore, as I have watching it. The depth is there, it supports further analyses and study. The entertainment value is so supreme I'm compelled to start again from the beginning.



#2 Stefancos

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:31 PM

I was planning to watch this, but if the ending is screwed up like that i won't bother!

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#3 Quintus

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:54 PM

It's probably the best 'sleep on it' ending in memory, if you know what I mean ;)

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#4 Romão

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:32 PM

It's the greatest TV show of all time. Even when playing with clichés, it manages to be absolutely unique
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#5 Maestro

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:53 PM

Great, hypnotic review, Quint. You've nailed much of the wonder and irresistible charm of this one-of-a-kind show. (Though I personally never got bored!) And has there ever been a show that made you appreciate good coffee more?

#6 Quintus

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 07:24 AM

A bit late, but thanks for commenting, Maestro!

#7 Miles Prower

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 04:30 AM

I have the Gold Box, I want to go through the series again... it's just great television. Fantastic review! :)
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