13 November 2011

Twin Peaks

by Leigh Lundin

Cooper and opening scene
Last week, Richard Santos, who blogs on Paperclip People, posted on Criminal Element a terrific article about Twin Peaks. That brought back a flood of memories as if remembering an old lover.

I have a complex love-hate relationship with Twin Peaks. After the series ended, I felt annoyed and cheated. Along with any number of deep-sixed series like Nowhere Man, Firefly, and Jake 2.0, it reflected in my not watching Lost, refusing to vest in a series that might head south.

David Lynch

David Lynch is, well, a flawed genius, which I think is way cooler than ordinary genius. His works are never dull (although Eraserhead takes more wine and corn chips than most folks can consume).

The influence of Blue Velvet on Twin Peaks is clear, from the actors and musicians to the dark plot, and arguably it influenced Dune. Twin Peaks' music is hypnotic and seductive. If Angelo Badalamenti never writes another note, he'll be remembered for that haunting score. The Ipcress File and the Twin Peaks CDs are among the soundtracks worth listening to.

Cherry Jubilee
Audrey Horne
The characterization is brilliant and draws viewers like few other programs. The plot intrigued but the characters made you feel like a part of the town populated with people you cared about. I'm not sure how Lynch accomplished it, but that magic should be taught in writing classes.

Lynch created characters who were believably quirky, not unlike small town denizens I grew up with. Viewers love Sheriff Harry S Truman, Agent Dale Cooper, Laura and her cousin Maddie, James Hurley, and Audrey Horne. (I confess my brain short-circuited when Audrey tied a cherry stem (and me) in knots.)

A Spooky Turn

But the plot… Recently, my friend Ryan Freeman gave me David Lynch's works on DVD, which allowed me a more careful dissection of Twin Peaks. I disagree with Michael Giltz– the problem wasn't that the mystery was solved, but that it wasn't resolved. For months, avid viewers took copious notes and compared conclusions, so the who and the how came off as contrived. After the reveal of Laura's murderer, one reviewer wrote that writers must have been stunned when the series was picked up for a second season, because they hadn't plotted a logical dénouement. ("What? There's a second season? Oh, no!") Post-series critics differ in debates, but I lean toward those who feel Twin Peaks fell back upon paranormal deus ex machina.

Laura PalmerIn a similar way, I found myself disappointed by the movie The Forgotten about a distraught mother who wonders why others can move on after the death of her son but she can't. It exhibited the same feel of a film that lost its way, as if a writer had a brilliant seed for a story but didn't know how to wrap it up. If you're going to write a paranormal story, then let the reader know that's what it is, but don't blame the dénouement on psychic phenomenon and expect us to applaud.

Fire Walk

Possibly producers felt that way too, coming out with the dark and sexy Fire Walk with Me film to tie up the myriad loose ends, but many critics treated it harshly. USA Today wrote "Except for a brief episode in which singer Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland make like an FBI Rocky and Bullwinkle, this is a morbidly joyless affair. You'll feel as drained as one of Cooper's mugs of joe watching homecoming queen Laura drown in a whirlpool of sex and drugs." Ouch, that's cruel. Rotten Tomatoes treated it a bit better, scoring 62%/78%.

Quibbling aside, whether one feels love, hate, annoyance, or disgust with Twin Peaks, almost no one feels indifferent, and that's a tribute to the skills of David Lynch. He made us care, which is what writers want to accomplish. If only a little dust from Twin Peaks falls upon our works, we benefit from that seminal television program.


Our Women of Mystery bosom buddy, Clare Toohey, drew readers' attention to CNN's Katie McLaughlin's article about Psych's tribute to Twin Peaks, in the town of Dual Spires, where Douglas Fir is mayor and Julee Cruise sings Psych's theme. That episode is now on my must-watch list.



  1. Hooray!! Today I can comment so here I am!!!

  2. Wish I could say more but I never saw Twin Peaks!

  3. Hi Terrie!

    As you note, we still have growing pains, but I'm glad you visit us to much.

  4. That was one of my favorite series. I, too, was left wanting something when it appreared that Cooper was the new agent for "Bob" and the series ended. The "Red Room" scenes were some of the most surreal and bizarre video sequences I've ever seen. If the staging wasn't odd enough to fascinate, the backward dialog was.

    Fire Walk with Me was less surreal than the series and keeping the story to movie length necessitated reducing characters, some of which were critical to the original series story. That's why the movie was less intriguing than the series in my opinon.

    For some reason, I'm drawn to the darker stories whether they be in movies or TV series. I think that's why MilleniuM, which came along about 5 years later on Fox, became my all-time favorite series.

    Good posting.

  5. Wayne, like you, I enjoy dark themes and I like surreal. Mixing the two takes a careful touch.

    Disney's most recent Alice combined the two well, but I suspect it was strongly influenced by America McGee's far darker and more surreal Alice.

  6. I sent a comment hours ago and it didn't take... sigh.

    Glad you are here, Terrie. May the Blogspot gods keep shining on you.

    Leigh, I loved the show (and you should definitely consider picking up LOST.)

    Some of my favorite random moments from Twin Peaks: the pantomime horse (Wyndom Earle was the front end), the wooden end table know, "It is happening again," "How's Annie? How's Annie? Heh heh heh..."

  7. Uh... wooden end table KNOB, not KNOW.

  8. Glad you liked the post Leigh! Thanks for the mention. And I totally agree about the Badalementi score--he's amazing. The soundtracks for both the show and Fire Walk With Me are both worth owning.

  9. Thanks, Richard. It's good to see you!

  10. Jake 2.0?!?! I thought I was the only one who remembered that!

  11. Jeff, I'm dismayed how many sci-fi and mysteries series have been cancelled before they were resolved. I couldn't remember the title of a series with a premise similar to Jake 2.0, in which the guy had super mental abilities, but couldn't remember who he was.


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