Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Matinee: My month in Twin Peaks

 One Sunday evening in the spring of 1990, my boyfriend (now husband) and I welcomed cousin Kevin over for dinner...under one condition.  I'd have to halt all eating and chatting at 9:00pm because I had to watch Twin Peaks.  Kevin's face lit up.  He too, was in the grip of this bizarre and strangely non-commercial TV series and wouldn't think of missing it.  Back then everyone I knew was obsessed.  WHO KILLED LAURA PALMER?  It was a question on everyone's lips, just like WHO KILLED J.R.?  We stuck with the series until we were able to answer that question (about halfway through the second season), then we drifted away.  Apparently so did everyone else, because the series was cancelled after 30 episodes.  (It had to compete with the Gulf War, which didn't help.)  But sources told me I jumped ship too early.

In late May, my son told me that he'd started watching the series on Netflix, because it had been the basis upon which one of his video games was made.  My hubby and I perked up!  We'd watch it with him!  OMG, what a trip down memory lane this would be!

The show starts out with the discovery of a dead girl, wrapped in plastic, on the shores of a lake in the town of Twin Peaks.  The girl is identified as Laura Palmer...mentor of mentally disabled children, homecoming queen, meals on wheels worker, and cherished only daughter of a middle class family.   The sleepy Pacific Northwest town, known for its lumber industry, is rocked to its core.  Laura was the town's darling.

Laura Palmer's senior photo

Enter Dale Cooper, FBI.  He is quirky, highly intelligent and takes great joy in the little things in life...the smell of the Douglas Fir trees, a piece of cherry pie and a good cup of coffee.  He also is a student of Tibetan mythology, and holds dreams and questionable deductive techniques in high esteem.  He discovers that while on the surface, Laura was an upstanding high school senior, she had a very dark side.  In fact, the whole TOWN has a dark side.  Every time Dale turns over a rock, he finds affairs, lies, drugs, prostitution, and even evil spirits.  That being said, he falls in love with the town and bonds with their tight-knit community.

Agent Cooper with is trusty tape recorder

Up until we discover who DID kill Laura Palmer, the show is a character study of a strange little town's inhabitants and a twisty murder investigation.  The story reaches a crescendo, then for the last half of the episodes, wades out into stranger waters.  If you are familiar with David Lynch's work (Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Drive) you know that he always injects his signature dreamy, surreal drug-trip sequences.  At the same time, he is campy and humorous.  The industry has even coined the term "Lynchian" for this cinematic style.  I for one love this style...just a few steps off the path of normal.  

"Bob", a threatening but elusive presence

Because the series was cancelled after 30 episodes, the plot is basically unfinished, and leaves you with a MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER.  Boy was I bent out of shape.  I was ready to go all Annie Wilkes on Lynch's ass, kidnap him and force him at gunpoint to finish his business.  But as my husband, son and I have had a chance to digest this injustice, we've come to appreciate that some things are better left unresolved.  Like Gone With the Wind.  Having a tied-up ending might ruin the fantasy.  And none of us can imagine how on earth this cliffhanger could have been resolved to our satisfaction anyway.

Probably one of the most enduring parts of the series is the music.  Even after listening to the opening theme 30 times in a month, I never tired of it.  It is haunting and sets the mood.  In fact, I think that is how I will finish this post.  Listen and enjoy!

Twin Peaks is available on Netflix streaming.

5 out of 5 stars


rhapsodyinbooks said...

As you know, I hate dark, I hate noir, I hate violence, but my husband loves all these things. He should have married into your family, ha ha! Ironically, I am now reading a book that is supremely dark, noir, and violent, but the author is so good I'm sticking with it. (Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I'm predicting you will like it because in fact it is all about such films as you like!)

bermudaonion said...

I never saw this but remember all the fuss about it. I've just never been one to get hooked on a TV series like that.

caite said...

I watch it a bit first time around.but not hugely into it..maybe time to watch again.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I can't imagine watching this show when it was actually on TV. We watched is on netflix, but having to wait each week for the next episode would have been torture!