NEVER SEEN IT: Twin Peaks

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Date released: The show’s pilot was first aired April 8, 1990 and the show ran for two seasons, ending on June 10, 1991.

Why now? Apparently that brand of gum I like is going to come back in style. Yeah, I don’t actually get the reference … YET!

To be honest, this one has been on the cards for some time now, even more so when the news of the show coming back broke out. Unfortunately, now that David Lynch has left the show it doesn’t seem like it will be going ahead, or if it does go ahead, the lack of involvement from the show’s creator will have seriously diminished fan enthusiasm (see: the video in which several cast members protest the show without Lynch). However, that is no reason not to check out this little piece of TV history. Plus, I know several avid Twin Peaks fans and they’re starting to shun me and hyperventilate every time the fact that I haven’t seen it comes up (I’m only 80 per cent joking).

The problem with a show like this is that it’s something which has been referenced and parodied to death and after a while, you can’t help but feel like “Should I even bother?” I know little bits. I know settings. I even know who kills Laura Palmer, which is the driving force of the narrative. But as a couple of those Twin Peaks-loving friends of mine pointed out, it’s about the journey just as much as the destination, which is true. A good TV show is more than just the final twist–it’s the atmosphere, the characters, the way it tells the story, and that is worth seeing.

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Expectations:

  • Weirdness
  • A moody mystery story with elements of surrealism
  • Peeling away the false veneer of happy, peaceful, small town life
  • Kyle MacLachlan being really good, and maybe a little creepy
  • Finally getting a lot of jokes from over the years that escaped me

What I got:

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Diane, I have finished watching every episode of the television series Twin Peaks, and I must say it was quite a ride.

One of my biggest expectations for the show was that it would frequently be something of a mood piece, but I was unprepared for what that mood would actually end up being present most of the time. I loved the pilot for its low-key grit and sense of not-quite-right-ness, but that evolved into something else: equal parts off-the-wall random humour and sinister surreal moments that throw you off entirely. It’s an atmosphere and a style that has been often imitated, but has not truly been recaptured.

The other strong element to the show is its characters. I dare anybody not to fall a little bit in love with Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper, or the various officers in the Sheriff’s Department. And while I understand that some characters are less liked than others by fans (cough, James Hurley, cough) I can see how every character has a part to play in the grander mystery.

However, this story is Laura Palmer’s and Sheryl Lee tells her story so brilliantly in the little flashes we see in the show and then more so in the much maligned prequel/sequel/retelling thing of a movie, Fire Walk With Me. (Personally, I thought the movie was fine, with its own unsettling atmosphere and some great moments.) You can definitely understand why Lynch wanted to keep Lee in the show and created the role of Madeline Ferguson for her. Laura’s breakdown from the hunting of the supernatural entity BOB really is heartbreaking at times.

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The other standout character for me was definitely Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne. At first I wrote off her character as purely a high school bitch with some femme fatale overtones, but as the series progressed, I really grew to like her. I was particularly charmed by her relationship that developed with Agent Cooper.

One of the biggest issues people have with the show is that the second season–that is to say everything after the mystery of Laura Palmer’s death being solved–is pointless. While I wouldn’t say that it is completely without merit, the pace does drag down considerably and at times it feels like the characters are waiting for a real plot to come along. That said, the exploration of the strange mythos in the town is interesting and there’s no doubt that that final scene has its impact, even if there are a lot of plot threads left hanging after the final episode.

So, in summary, I greatly enjoyed my Twin Peaks experience. It’s a combination of weird and whimsy, creepy and confusing, and melodramatic and melancholic, a kind of soap opera from another reality.

One night stand or second date potential?

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Oh, definite second date potential, complete with large slice of pie. I’m someone who likes my TV marathons when the mood strikes me (in the middle of a Hannibal one currently in prep for the new season) and Twin Peaks is as perfect for that as a cup of fine black coffee.

Speaking as someone who is very new to the world of the show, I do think that without the involvement of Lynch, any kind of continuation is a mistake. It just won’t be the same without the main man behind it. However, if something does still happen, I am perfectly willing to give it a chance.

Either way, I’ll see you again in 25 years.

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