Friday, May 26, 2017

Twin Peaks and Me

I was in my mid teens when Twin Peaks premiered on the ABC network.Having already been a huge fan of David Lynch I made sure to catch that first episode. And after it was over I was hooked. So every week when a new episode aired I made sure to be home to watch it. That short first season was so good that over the summer I watched the reruns and my vhs recordings of each episode many many times.

Through out the entire summer while waiting on season 2 to start I spend countless hours trying to figure out who killed Laura Palmer. Thinking at the time that this murder mystery was the central plot of the show. Looking back now I see that the murder was just used by David Lynch and Mark Frost as a starting point to tell a story about how in most small towns there is an hidden evil side. One that unless you have lived in that town for a long time you don't notice. But if you have you can see through the cracks of the whole "We are just a small town full of happy nice people". Having lived over half my life in small towns I know how true this is.

When season 2 started on Sept 30th 1990 I was ready.
 I had gotten about 2 weeks prior the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer book,that was written by David Lynch's daughter. And read it 2 times.  Sure the book answered some of my questions it also created even more questions. From various interviews I have seen and read I have found out that David Lynch has never read this book. And sure a few things in the book contradict stuff from the show and film. Still it is worth reading if you are a Twin Peaks fan.

So season 2 starts and I was so happy that I had figured out how Agent Dale Cooper was gonna survive the season 1 cliffhanger. Not that long into season 2 Laura's murder is revealed. And I was shocked. During the summer between the seasons I had mulled who it could be over and over in my head. And when it was revealed that Laura's father had murdered her I was surprised that I had never even suspected him. Going back now and rewatching the first season and re-reading the diary I see all the clues that had been laid out.

About halfway through season 2 the show seemed to change. Once Laura's murder was solved the show seemed to lose it's focus. Found out that part of this was because Lynch never wanted to reveal who the murderer was. Plus IIRC Lynch was gone from the show for most of season 2. I am pretty sure he was off working on Wild at Heart.

Seems like I wasn't the only one that felt the show had lost it's way. The ratings started to drop. And ABC started preempting the show and moving it around the schedule. I am pretty sure that all of season 1 aired at 9pm central Sunday nights. Which was perfect for me. I could watch my 2 hour block of sitcoms on Fox.Then flip the dial to ABC watch Twin Peaks,before drifting off to sleep.

Then towards the end of season 2 I was hearing rumors that the show might get cancelled. And that David Lynch was coming back to direct some episodes. Sadly Lynch coming back wasn't enough to save the show. So on June 10th 1991 the final episode aired. And left all the fans with a few major cliffhangers. Was Audrey Horne dead? Agent Cooper was stuck in the Black Lodge while his evil doppelganger was free to roam the Earth. It looked like I was never gonna get answers to lots of the questions the show had raised.

I was at my local comic shop,talking to a few friends that summer after season 2. And one of them told me that David Lynch was doing a Twin Peaks movie. Fuck yeah now I was gonna get more answers. The movie came out in August of 1992. Titled Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me,it is a prequel and epilogue to the show. Showing us the last week of Laura's life. Sure it answered some of the questions I had. But it raised even more questions. From what I can find the plan was to do a series of 3 films that would wrap up the Twin Peaks saga.But Fire Walk with Me was a huge bomb in the States. I went opening night to see it and there was maybe 30 people in the theater. I enjoyed the movie so much I went back a few days later to see it again. This time there was 5 people in the theater.

Oh well even though I didn't get all the answers I wanted at least I knew thanks to Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge Laura's spirit was free to move on to whatever happens to us after we die. Even back then the line Laura had about seeing us in 25 years kind of stuck out as odd. Now here it is basically 25 years later and season 3 has just started airing on the Showtime movie network.

It was sometime in the fall of 1994,I was in Walden's books in my local mall. Looking through their clearance book bin.When I see a copy of The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. I had heard about the book but never seen a copy anywhere. And Walden's had it marked down to 2 or 3 bucks. So I grabbed it and rushed home to read it. Excited that I had more Twin Peaks stuff to enjoy. It was also around this time that I found the pilot episode on VHS. Cause of rights issues and various contracts the version of the pilot released on VHS was the European theatrical cut of the pilot. When Lynch convinced ABC to take a chance on the show one of the things he was required to do was film extra footage so the pilot could be released as a film in various countries overseas. It seems that it was mostly countries in Europe that got this release. For years the only way to see the original cut of the pilot was to find someone that had recorded it off TV. These added scenes tried to wrap up the mystery of who killed Laura. But totally go against what was revealed in season 2. Still this was more new Twin Peaks stuff for me to consume.

I ended up buying the VHS releases of both seasons. Then years later buying them again on the laserdisc then DVD formats. Through these releases I got many friends hooked on Twin Peaks. One of whom borrowed Laura's secret diary book and the Agent Cooper book. Which by this time were out of print. Sadly his dog,a love able but destructive dog named Kuma-chan,ate both books one day while my friend was at work. Since then I have managed to replace the Diary.But still need to replace the Agent Cooper book. The Diary got a re-release around 3 years ago. But as of this writing  the Cooper book is still out of print. I am hoping with season 3 airing now we will get a new release of the Agent Cooper book.

Thanks to having every episode on VHS every Halloween from 1993 until 1997 I would host a Twin Peaks marathon at my home. Starting with the original cut of the pilot and going through seasons 1 and 2.Then ending it with Fire Walk with Me. I also got lucky and found not only the cassette releases of the soundtracks to the tv show and movie,but also the CD releases. Many a nights I have fallen asleep while listening to them.

Sometime in 2014 I heard that David Lynch was gonna bring the show back. And it was going to air on Showtime. Which meant the show wouldn't have to fall under the restrictions of airing  on a broadcast network. Even though the first 2 seasons got away with lots of stuff that very few shows back then could get away with on a broadcast network. IIRC Season 3 was suppose to start 25 years after the show left the air. Which makes the previous mentioned comment from Laura have even more resonance. 

As I am writing this the first 2 episodes of what will be an 18 episode season 3 have aired on Showtime. And episodes 3 and 4 have been aired on the Showtime app. I just watched episodes 1 and 2 a few hours ago. Once I knew the show was coming back I tried to avoid any news about which cast members were coming back. I didn't watch any of the teaser trailers. I wanted to go into the new season knowing as little as I could.

I gotta say in just 2 episodes,each about an hour long,Lynch has not only gotten me hooked on Twin Peaks again. But has me wishing I didn't have to wait a week between episodes. I rarely watch that much TV anymore. Preferring to either wait till shows I enjoy hit DVD/Blu Ray. So I can watch an entire season in a few days. I like how in the show 25 years have passed. Cooper has been stuck in the Black Lodge all this time. And Evil Cooper has been out in the world doing all kinds of evil sinister shit.

So what was it about this show that captured my attention so much? Really it is many many things. As I said somewhere above before the show started  I was already a big David Lynch fan. I enjoy all his films besides Dune. Hell I even watched The Cleveland Show a few times just cause Lynch is a character on the show. Still have no clue how Seth Macfarlane managed to get that to happen. The story,while odd and nonsensical at times,still was intriguing enough to make me watch each episode and the  film more times than I can count. This is one of the few shows/films that I have owned on so far 4 formats. Yep I have bought this show and the film on VHS,Laserdiscs,DVD and now Blu Ray.

The cast is another reason why I love the show so much. Twin Peaks introduced me to so many actors and actresses that before the show I had never heard of. People like Kyle MacLachlan who plays Agent Dale Cooper. Sherliyn Fenn who is Audrey Horne,Madchen Amick who plays Shelly. And so many others. 

The final reason why I kept coming back  to a show that I thought was dead was how multilayered the plot was. Just recently while  preparing for season 3 I re-watched both seasons and the film. And even though I had seen every episode close to 100 times I still find stuff I never noticed in them each time I re-watch them. And it is the same with the movie.

With  just 2 seasons and 30 episodes total,until recently,Twin Peaks became one of my top 3 TV shows of all time. It is a show that it is rare a day passed that I don't make a joke or reference to it. And it is a show that I am always trying to get people that have never seen it to try it out.

Hopefully season 3 keeps up the quality of the previous 2 seasons. And from what I am hearing if season 3 does good Lynch wants to do at least another season. I really hope this happens. 

Anyways hope y'all enjoyed reading my musing about what I consider to be one of the best dramas to ever air. Thank you for reading my thought about Twin Peaks.