Twin Peaks review by Tom Blain
Reviewing an entire television series is pretty intimidating. One movie isnt so bad. Its an hour and a half commitment in front of the tube and then write up time. But a whole series is a marathon and if you are new to the series then there is a lot of note taking involved. Then there is Twin Peaks. For those of you who tuned out pop culture in the years 1990 and 1991, Twin Peaks is the David Lynch night time creep-o drama that had everyone asking Who killed Laura Palmer? A David Lynch movie is intimidating enough (see Mullholland Drive) but watching his so non-sensical its gotta make sense some how story for an hour a night had to be a slow roast lobotomy.
Or so I predict. Even though I grew up in the 90s, I never saw Twin Peaks. When I was in college I think I caught half a show in re-runs on Bravo. This was back when Bravo was more than just reality shows and a running contest to see how many celebrity butt cheeks James Lipton can pucker. At the time it was on TV, I really had no interest. Once I discovered David Lynch I immediately regretted watching Coach or Hermans Head or whatever it was I watched in lieu of Twin Peaks. But here I am 17 years later with the Twin Peaks Gold Collection; all 29 episodes of it (including pilot!). I could just review the whole thing and get back to you in three months, but I believe in order to capture the true essence of my inevitable confusion I should document my watching of Twin Peaks in some sort of diary format. The idea of a running diary isnt completely original. JAC Founder "Fuersty" put together a spectacular yet rarely viewed running diary of some of his worst alcohol induced exploits around his prestigious (unnamed) college. Those who have seen it know what Im talking about. Also Bill Simmons on ESPN.com writes diarys of the NBA draft that are more entertaining than the draft itself.
The trick is my wife wants nothing to do with Twin Peaks or anything scary for that matter. So Ill have to squeeze in an episode here and there on my own. On with the show!
10/26/07 DVD1 The Pilot I got my DVD set in the mail and like a kid on Christmas morning I let out a bit of a nervous squeal. Cant wait to sink my teeth into this 10 disc addiction waiting to happen. Might as well start with disc 1, episode 1 (AKA the pilot). Im met with a few odd options. Option 1 is TV Version vs. International Version. Im going with TV but in the back of my mind Im thinking does International=breasts? Ill visit that at a later date. The next option is to play the Log Lady intro or not. "Who is the Log Lady?" I ask myself not looking for an answer. I haven't even seen the opening credits and already I'm looking at a circus freak with a log. Didn't take Lynch long to lay down the expectations for utter confusion.
First scene a dead woman (lemme guess, Laura Palmer) washes up in a plastic bag and some old fisherman spots her. They dont waste time. As people are told about her death, they seem to react in a premature manner; as if before they are told she is dead they knew to expect it. The tracks are being laid
The Sheriff Harry S. Truman comes out to see the stiff. The sheriff is none other than Michael Ontkean who played Ned Braden from Slap Shot. I didnt think anyone but Paul Newman did anything after Slapshot. Man this show really is twisted! What next? Ogie Oglethorpe? Maybe Jaws from Moonraker will play the coroner?
Agent Cooper is played by Kyle McLaughlin. He is a bit of a no-nonsense city boy who is amazed with everything about Twin Peaks (trees, coffee, pie) but not with the murder. Dead body? No big deal. Slice of cherry pie CALL UP THE DEPARTMENT AND TELL THE BOYS! He is sort of the crux of the show from what I remember. The protagonist. The guy pushing things forward.
Battery ran out of my laptop just as Special Agent Cooper was picking something out of Laura Palmers finger nail. Im betting its not a booger and its not dirt but the way Cooper was digging with those tweezers, I would have believed anything would have come out of that dead chicks knuckle. How can I even go to sleep at a time like this?
10/27/07 DVD1 The Pilot (cont) - Cooper picks out the letter R out of her finger. Did David Lynch watch Sesame Street as he wrote this? Now Im pulled in. That was officially the first totally weird creepy thing that happened. And this Pilot is going on for over an hour. Its like a feature length film without an end.
So far I can tell that Bobby (Lauras cheating football star, drunk boyfriend) didnt do it but he is a total d-bag so Im hoping that ole Special Agent Cooper hits him with some sort of charges. (Off topic, but I have to mention that every time I hear the music for Twin Peaks I expect to see the Verizon guy to pop out with a Motorola Q? Not even sure what this music classifies as but if there was a bridge nearby I might get worried. I'll never look at Verizon the same way.)
DVD2 Episode 1 - Within the first few seconds, I can tell right away Lynch didnt direct this one. It doesnt have the same creepy vibe. It doesnt give me that Im afraid to turn off the lights when I watch it feeling. Tragic, hope that doesnt hurt the quality down the line. Unfortunately I have to drop this one halfway through.
10/28/07 - DVD2 Episode 1 (cont) - Creepy factor goes up when Lauras neurotic mother screams at hallucinogenic images of potential long haired murderers. So scratch my comment from last entry but still overall. Every time I see Mrs. Palmer from now on, I'm going to prepare for the worst. Also I see there is the re-occurring one-armed guy that they showed in the Pilot briefly. I seem to remember hearing about him occasionally on the side, so Im sure he had a hand in some of the murdering that was going on. Other than that, episode 2 ended with the log lady going off on Cooper stating "My log can tell you about the murder" and the creepy psychologist listening to love tapes of from Laura Palmer. I was hoping Cooper would handcuff the log and haul it in for questioning...that would have got me to watch episode 3 into the late night but as it is I'm excited to see what happens next. We're only just getting started.
10/29/07 - DVD2 - Episode 2 - I run home for lunch to squeeze in a 47 minute episode. Epi#2 is directed by David Lynch so I was a little excited out of the box. For about 40 minutes though it was the lamest episode of the first three... that is until S.A. Cooper went to sleep and then TOUCHDOWN! Funny-talking dancing midget is in the house!. Isn't that why people watched this show back in the day? The little dude wears a red suit, and struts into Cooper's dream like he owns it. Then he does a little dance close to the robot and to the tune of some jazzy beat that has no name. Good stuff; on par with 2001's final 20 minutes or Dali's Un Chien Andalou. Overall the episode was still lacking in the intrigue, the creepiness and what not but I think a lot of it is due to my after-Pilot-glow still glowing strong. Might squeeze in #3 tonight.DVD2 - Episode 3,4 - The two episodes ran together in my head so my apologies if I get some of the details out of whack. Two big things happened in Episode 3. Autopsy and the funeral. In the autopsy the found the letter "J" along with some bird scratches. Did Laura Palmer get caught up in unsanctioned Scrabble and cock fighting? Then the funeral... Bobby the d-bag started screaming about how everyone is guilty of Laura's death since no one really helped her. Then he started punching the biker kid James who Laura was dating on the side. The sooner someone kills Bobby the better. Laura's dad jumps on the casket as its lowering. The dude isn't moving on very well.
Also the one-eyed lady is increasingly obsessed with her drapes. Her creepy level is quickly approaching infinity. Speaking of one-eye, there is a Canadian casino/brothel called One Eyed Jacks that a few of the guys in town go to for a good time. Not sure how that is going to play out.
In episode 4 I got kinda aggravated with Sheriff Truman. He starts off talking to Cooper about "bad things that happen in the forest" and "an evil presence that they don't like talking about outside of Twin Peaks". Cooper asks more about it, they go to a bar, and interrogate some French Canadian for bringing cocaine across the border. Talk about leaving a guy hanging. This may take re-watching... or I'll just chug forward and figure it out later.
Also we learn a tad more about Laura's cousin who looks exactly like her but with black hair. Common Lynch theme; having the same actress playing two roles with blond and black hair perhaps representing some doppleganger of good and evil. It happened in Lost Highway with Patricia Arquette playing two characters in sort of alternate universes and in Mulholland Dr Laura Harring was both dark haired and wore a blond wig. With Laura Palmer's dark past creeping up on her, it seems this dark haired cousin could be the good, wholesome version. I see this building into something.
10/30/07 - DVD3 - Episode 5 - Did I mention this is a 10-disc set? Its going to take a while to climb the whole mountain. I was thinking at some point I might skip to the last episode but that might due more harm than good.
Up to this point I think I know this much: Laura Palmer was killed by 2-3 people. She had sex with at least 3 people before she died, but from what the Log Lady says in this episode there were two men in the cabin that killed her. And the Log Lady seems to know what she speaks of...or at least her log does. There are a couple of pairs that could have done the crime: Leo Johnson + Jacques Renault who were running drugs and supplying coke to Laura. Then the creepy Long haired guy + One armed man who seem to be present in hallucinations and psychic dreams. At this point its to early to tell. There are 20 episodes for it to twist and turn.
Who needs Law and Order when you have DVD copies of Twin Peaks?
In episode 6 Leo Johnson gets shot by his wife. Bobby gets closer and closer to Leo's wife. Laura used to make Bobby cry in bed. Cooper and company discover a creepy swingers cabin in the woods. They get info from the Log Lady. Icelanders descend on Twin Peaks to buy the old mill and they party like only Icelanders can do. The Packard lady seems to have relations with 3 people despite her conservative front. Audrey the 18 year old Lolita gets naked in Coopers bed to end the show. No freaky-deaky moments that made me wet myself, but the overall mood is definitely spooky whenever they go into the woods.
11/01/07 - DVD3 - Episode 6 - Went home for lunch to cram in another addicting episode of Twin Peaks. Audrey Horne, the dark haired Lolita, got turned down by the morally proud S.A. Cooper. At least he shows some decency in this twisted community. Then Cooper, Truman, and Ed Hurley head up to One-Eyed Jacks for some undercover work. The part that threw me was over who is screwing who over at the Old Mill. Ben Horne seems to be playing both the old lady Catherine Martell and the Josie Packard, the widow of the owner. Oh and white trash truck driver Leo Johnson is alive still. The guy takes a bullet and keeps ticking. He is like the white trash Terminator. Meanwhile Audrey goes to work at One-Eyed Jacks as an escort to help out S.A Cooper (without him knowing).
Madeline, Laura's cousin dresses up like Laura to lure Dr. Jacoby out so that the wonder twins could go in and steal a tape Laura recorded and gave to Jacoby. Overall it felt more like a twisted Hardy Boys episode. There was a moment when James fell into a trance over Madeline's Laura Palmer look. Thats going to play out...
DVD 3 - Episode 7 - Last episode of Season 1 so I'm expecting some big bang for my buck. Mark Frost (co-creator along with David Lynch) directs this one so they are bring out the semi-big guns. Leo Johnson gets shot....again. Dude needs to die. The mill gets burned to the ground. Jacques Renault gets smothered and killed by Leland Palmer and then Cooper gets shot at the very end by some masked assailant.
But of course we know Cooper can't die. He is the glue to the show. Overall, its becoming more of a murder mystery than a creepy Lynch show. Of course that all changes in ...
DISC 4 - Season 2 Episode 1 - I was on such a high after watching the season finale I thought I would trail that right into the next season opener. Its as long as the pilot (90 minutes). On top of that David Lynch directed it so I immediately expected less "kids playing detective" and more "things so twisted I don't want to turn off the lights." Right away you see a difference. First his dark humor comes out with a near dead Cooper still laying on the floor bleeding while the elderly room service comes in to drop of warm milk with little help. Then he hits you with the supernatural as Cooper is visited by a ghostly giant who gives him three clues in finding Laura Palmer's murderer. Later, the creepy side comes out as Madeline recalls a nasty dream where she saw Laura's dead body laying on the living room floor. Blood stains begin to appear slowly with menacing music and then disappear. Weeeiirrd....
Where I really shat in my trousers was at the end though. I expected the final two minutes to leave me with that not so easy feeling as I trailed off to bed. I was preparing myself for it. Then agent Cooper falls asleep, is shrouded in darkness, the camera trails off to the hospital where Ronette Polaski is trembling and waking up, recalling vivid memories of her traumatic experience. A series of moments hit the screen including the boxcar, Laura screaming with vampire teeth, the creepy long haired guy roaring, blood, etc etc... the end. Slowly I come out of a catatonic state and switch to a light episode of the Golden Girls so that I don't go to sleep thinking about what I just saw. Only Blanche Devereaux can save me now!
Too much Twin Peaks in one day. I might need a break.
Disc 4 Note - There is an error on this disc. When you go to the menu to select episodes individually and select an episode the next menu gives no choices. To view the episodes you have to go to the option that lest you view them all at once and then skip scenes to the one you want to see.
11/05/07 - Disc 4 - Season 2 Episodes 2,3 - I'm writing this a little bit later than the actual viewing date. Lynch directed the 2nd episode but it lacks some of the zing of his previous episodes. My gut tells me that everytime Cooper goes to sleep or has a hallucination, Lynch trusts only his own keen eye with the task. Other crap that happened: Audrey Horne got caught and being kidnapped, James-Maddy-Donna have 90210-esque drama to deal with, the Chinese lady is mysteriously evil since she was the one who had the mill burned, and a message from outerspace warns Agent Cooper about owls. Whats it all mean? Laura Palmer was killed by a long haired dude who doubles as a vampire owl.
Oh and when Donna starts running a meals on wheels she meets up with some young guy who has Laura Palmer's secret diary. Thats right, she was doing coke, having lots of crazy vampire sex, running meals on wheels, going to cheer leading, dating two high school guys and writing two diaries. I'm sure her college entry applications had all of these listed as extra-curricular activities. The whole secret diary thing is a bit sketchy. I think they are grasping now. A buddy of mine said that Lynch was against making a 2nd season and got pushed into it by higher-ups and I'm guessing this is the result.
Disc 5 - Season 2 Episode 4 - The Chinese chick is definitely evil while looking sweet and pouty. She also has this deceptive non-evil way of talking but damn everyone knows she burned the mill and skipped town and now her real Chinese husband or brother (one can only assume at this point) came into town to drop kick a few people that might potentially frame her.
Worst episode yet. The most drama comes when Lucy thinks she is carrying some other dude's baby but it might turn out to be Andy's. Maybe next episode they will run tests on Andy to see if he is intelligent enough to procreate. If it were 1991 and there were Vegas odds on this type of thing, I'd be betting against ole Andy. I'm dropping my rating on TP to 8 soley based on this episode. Hopefully they rebound before the end of the season.
I'm moving forward but at a slower pace. Its like running a long distanced race and I'm halfway through but thinking more like I have halfway to go (if that makes any sense). The temptation to skip ahead to the final episode is growing but I'll probably end up comatose while trying to understand what I missed. Plus if that midget comes back in one of the middle episodes and I miss it... well I just wouldn't be able to forgive myself.
11/25/07 - Disc 6 - Season 2 - All episodes lumped into one. The series might as well have come to an end. The killer is identified as Bob (horrible name) who is some sort of other-word spirit who takes on someone else's body as told to us by the one-armed man. The one-armed man is the same as Bob but a tad more friendly. Bob (every time I say the name i cringe) is inhabiting the body of SPOILER!!! Laura's father. He kills Madeline in episode 16 which is probably the better of the episodes on the disc. Later he gets identified, jailed, and dies. Bob is released but everyone feels a little better.
Must the show go on? Yeah it does apparently. With about ten episodes left the series continues with the Leland Palmer funeral, and the "so long thanks for stopping by" to Agent Cooper. Just as he is about to leave, Cooper is brought up on some sort of charges for going into Canada. Then Cooper goes out for night fishing with Major Briggs and has a "Fire in the Sky" type moment.
But probably the most painful theme to watch... a theme that seems to continue without comedy is Nadine's super human strength and partial amnesia. She thinks she is a high school bobby-soxer and can punch a whole in an oak tree. The latest saga on episode 18 is how she enrolls in high school, tries out for cheer leading and throws one of the males about 60 yards. Its played up for comedy but its not the type of comedy I want out of Twin Peaks.
I can see now why there were only two seasons. The show is already so far from what it started off being. Its just getting stretched to hold new story lines that have little to do with the original intent: figure out who killed Laura Palmer and why? With about 10 episodes left and only one directed by Lynch (the last one) I'm curious to see how it plays out but ready for disappointment. It doesn't even feel like the same show anymore. I don't even know why they keep closing each episode with Laura's picture anymore.
Disc 7 - Episode 19 - Four words: David Duchovny in drag.
Episode 20 - - James became a mechanic and started schmoozing on a hot blonde who is the wife of a wealthy older business man. Some of the scenes in Episode 19 and 20 are very reminiscent of Lost Highway.
Ben Horne is flipping out. Kinda like the way Leland flipped out only instead of dancing he is re-enacting Gettysburg in his office. His behavior seems to have begun after Leland died so maybe Bob has inhabited his body now? Why do I even care about these crappy episodes? Closure is a bitch.
Days later - Well I ran out of steam on TP. I got through the whole thing, but just don't feel there is much to write home about. As mentioned previously, the whole show really got out of control on Season 2 once they announced who killed Laura Palmer. What happens in the episodes leading up to the final? It turned into the Simpsons. More characters and actors were thrown into the mix and they got outside of the core. Windham Earl and his crazy chess match, Audrey Horne falls in love with Billy Zane, Cooper falls in love with Heather Graham, and so on. Even beyond that crazy stupid shit happens like Josie Packard has a mysterious heart attack, the one-eyed chick turns into Hercules and dates a high school boy, a Miss Twin Peaks paegent occurs, alien abductions... and through it all the show keeps ending with that prom photo of Laura Palmer. The credits are a painful reminder of what the show used to be and how good it was.
But through it all there is one thing that one die: Leo Johnson. With his dirty rat tail and white trash bravada, he has survived numerous gun shot wounds, stabbings, and electrocution. He drew himself out of a coma very suddenly, but what kinda state was he in? Is he immortal? Is he a retard? Is it somewhere in the middle? It definitely seems liek his spirit is broken if he is afraid from evil uncle Windham Earl.
Now the last episode was a bit disappointing. When ranked with its most recent predecessors its top notch, but overall across the series probably Lynch's least impressive. First, its the final episode and its the normal 45 minutes. I was hoping for a full two hour extravaganza like the other opening and closing episodes. Second, it looks as if its shot in the same style as Lynch's B-directors. Lynch's previous episodes had this faded, almost flourescent lit look to them. All the other directors seem to be using set-lighting, which is very bright and color-rich. It also makes Twin Peaks look more like Desperate Housewives and less realistic like an episode of ER. The previous episodes he directed had this realism that also helped create a scary mood.
The events leading up to the final episode include the Miss Twin Peaks paegent and Windham Earl kidnapping Heather Graham (who S.A. Cooper had fallen in love with). In the final episode, Cooper chases Earl to "the black lodge" which is just a goofy name for the red velvet room that Cooper saw in his dream with the dancing midget. Its a surreal place, filled with evil, backwards talking and of course the dancing midget. Cooper finds Earl, they engage, Cooper gets stabbed, Bob comes and takes away Earl, lots of other crazy shit happens, visions of Laura Palmer and Maddy, blah blah, and then Cooper is back on earth. But... Bob is inhabiting him in the final scene. Evil, damnit. The one good character left and Lynch takes him away in the closure.
One of two things happened. Lynch wrote the script hoping the intrigue would get Twin Peaks on for a third season where he could stear the ship away from the iceberg or he said, "Ok, fine. You made me kill the show, now I'm going to kill the best character in 45 minutes." Kind of a crappy way to end the entire series.
Final Disc - Extras - The final disc is a pretty cool. It has a bunch of cool extras including a talk between David Lynch, Kyle MacLachlin, and an even hotter older Madchen Amick. The 30 minute Twin Peaks documentaries are revealing in that the people involved with the show talk about it like a fan would. They were interested to see how it would evolve, who the killer would be, were disappointed to see how season two went down, etc.
Summary. Its hard to detatch myself from the Twin Peaks obsession. I close out the 10 discs wanting more, even despite the turn it took for the worse. The only thing I have left is the Fire Come Walk With Me movie. I bumped up the rating to an 8. As long as you stop at Season 2, episode 3 then you won't be too disappointed. For Twin Peaks fans, this DVD set is definitely the way to go. If there is room was any room for improvement, it would be to put a running commentary on each episode.
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