|Can't you just hear the music now?|
I admit, part of it is intimidation. Dissecting the multiple layers of his work is a daunting task. But it is one of the reasons I enjoy watching his films so much. I figure that Twin Peaks is a good place to start. Since this blog focuses mainly on movies, I’m not going to do a full series review. I’d be too tempted to do an episode-by-episode breakdown, and I’m sure there are other sites out there that can provide more insight than I can. I will review Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me in the future. So I might as well talk a little bit about my first experience with David Lynch’s groundbreaking show.
|The mystery that started it all.|
|Helpful townsfolk, good thing. Fish flavored|
coffee, bad thing.
I really didn’t get into full David Lynch fandom until college, especially when I saw Lost Highway in theaters and it blew my mind. But I’ll save that for another post. After that experience, I searched the video store for everything Lynch related and watched all of his work I could get my hands on over the course of a year or so.
|Father and daughter can't see eye to eye.|
|"Some day, my log will have something to say|
about all this."
There was also a lot of humor in the show, and much of it just a little bit off. These days the humor in Twin Peaks is something that doesn’t seem so strange. Offbeat and absurd humor has permeated the television landscape. But back in the 1990s most television humor was of the sitcom variety, especially when this series first aired.
I watched all of the first season very quickly. When that final cliffhanger hit at the very end, I was dying to know what happened next. Lynch and Frost had managed to put every character into come kind of massive moral quandary or mortal peril. It was the ultimate soap opera season finale.
|The trip into the Red Room continues.|
But I was able to watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. By this point I had seen Lynch’s work up to that film, so Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Lost Highway were seared in my mind. Fire Walk with Me felt like a natural extension of those films, so stylistically it didn’t feel like such a vastly different thing. But the plot and extremely dark undercurrent to the film was deeply troubling. It felt like Twin Peaks but viewed threw a very dark lens (which makes sense considering you are following a very troubled woman through her final hours of life).
|Agent Cooper's long walk begins.|
I finally got around to seeing season two of Twin Peaks when it was released on DVD many years later. I went back and viewed the whole series over a month or so. I had to watch the pilot on VHS again (the original DVD release of the first season didn’t include the pilot for legal reasons). It was a fun trip diving back into that world, and enjoying so much of the first season again.
|It all comes full circle.|
|Double R Diner is double cute!|
The humor goes from absurd to just being silly at times. Pulling off absurd humor is tough and requires an ability to see things in a fractured but humorous lens. Instead we get humor that is kind of dumb and falling in along those more traditional sitcom tropes. Also they end up beating a joke to death a few too many times. Season two had a rough production history with Lynch have very limited involvement. Some of that was bound to impact the final product.
|Sadly, Earle is rarely this calm.|
When Earle shows up it is like the writers forgot all the set up for the character and turned him into an over the top mad man who is anything but cold and calculating. A few episodes he is directed to go over the top with ridiculous disguises and crazy antics. They tone him down a little bit over time, but the set up for this character and the execution couldn’t be further off. I don’t blame Welsh for the issue, he’s a fine actor. I just think the writing and directing of his episodes had a very different idea in mind for the character than the one Lynch hinted at in his episodes. It was a real disappointment to me on the first viewing of Season Two and one of its biggest missed opportunities.
The final episode of Twin Peaks second season has Lynch back in the helm. He takes a similar approach to the one he did for the season one finale. He drives all the key characters to extreme moral quandaries or mortal peril. He places the beloved Agent Cooper deep in the heart of the darkest depths of Twin Peaks and leaves him there. He takes that cliffhanger trope and pushes it hard into Lynchland territory. It is a beautiful thing.
|You got a little something there on (in) your head Coop.|
I can see how this episode grabbed some viewers and completely alienated others. It becomes very obvious what Lynch liked about working on Twin Peaks and what other elements didn’t interest him. He liked playing with the television format. He liked telling continuous stories. He liked diving into the dark elements of the characters, but also highlighting the absurdity of their lives. But he didn’t have time for some of the silliness that surrounded some of the plot lines. Especially in that odd and explosive way he handles Audrey and Pete in the bank.
To end a show like that was going to only leave people feeling angry, especially the ones that had hung in there through the middle of the second season when it felt like the wheels were just spinning and we weren’t getting anywhere terribly interesting.
|Twin Peaks on DVD! Cooper thinks it is damn fine.|
In any case, I urge anyone who is interested to at least check out the first season of Twin Peaks if they haven’t seen it before. It is really an entertaining series, especially if you are familiar with those old evening dramas from the 1980s. And the music… damn…