Friday, June 02, 2006

Smell Those Trees or A "Twin Peaks" Guide

It was a marvelous moment, a rare event embedded in memory. I had received a review copy of the pilot episode of "Twin Peaks" in early 1990. Already a fan of filmmaker David Lynch, I was greatly skeptical he would make anyting worthwhile just for television How very wrong I was.

Within minutes of starting the tape, I was ushered into a neo-gothic surreal television mystery, with ghostly music and bizarre language. It was the start of a cultural milestone. As many reviewers later said, the character of Laura Palmer was an instant American icon because she arrived dead to TV screens, and the mythmaking of why and how and who was a central focus of the show.

I was in a rather feverish state of mind as I carefully took that videotape to a friend's house to make sure this program was as exceptional as I thought. We watched, called over more friends, and watched it again. Like millions of other TV watchers, we gathered in groups to watch every episode and debate every oddity of language and image. And the women, too, we talked a lot about them. Shelly and Audrey and Donna.

I still have that screener video. Wouldn't part with it for anything.

Today, via MetaFilter, I found a website that offers an episode guide that so far, seems very well researched and has fascinating commentary. Here's a sample:

But the legacy remains, more striking with each year that passes. The immediate effect was very noticeable—for a brief period, surrealism and experimentalism were suddenly acceptable on American television. Shows like Eerie, Indiana and Wild Palms (both overseen by film directors, Joe Dante and Oliver Stone respectively) attempted to cash in on the craze for all things weird, with varying degrees of success. The show that scooped up most of Twin Peaks’ hungry fans must have been The X-Files, shoehorning familiar Peaks-inspired weirdo FBI agent antics into a more straightforward Sci-Fi serial format to enormous popular acclaim. In recent years the genre-blending aspect of Twin Peaks has been felt time and again, in shows such as Chicago Hope (hospital drama/soap/comedy), Firefly (western/Sci-Fi) and perhaps most notably Lost (mystery/thriller/Sci-Fi/etc.)."

Link to it here. (Note: It is worth remarking that David Duchovny, star of X-Files, was first featured as a cross-dressing FBI agent in Peaks.)

Smell those trees. Have some coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Don't go into the woods. Leo needs new shoes. Break the code, solve the crime. "Laura ... Laura!"


  1. This must be where pies go when they die.

    Oh! You forgot Josie.

  2. D'oh!!!

    and it IS where pies go when they die and the owls are not what they seem!!

  3. I loved Twin Peaks. So sad it died so young.

  4. Just like Laura Palmer ... did the death of the show occur because the solution to the mystery was revealed too soon?

  5. I think the mystery was revealed too soon.
    It's why I ignore the whole Lost debate. I have no problem with the pace that show is going and the little explosions it sets up.
    Damn, I miss the Log Lady.

  6. One-Eyed Jack Monkey8:40 AM

    My log knows things.

  7. Laura Palmer was the reason Twin Peaks existed. To unravel the mystery so early in the second season was to murder it.

    Twin Peaks is still my favorite show ever on network television. Should I have been watching Lost?

  8. yes, Lost has been most rewarding and well written, but its taken two seasons for the fine fabric of the show to reveal all the complex fun and games!!

  9. I'll never forget watching the first episode of TP. The show started with 30 minutes that were uninterrupted by commercials ("she's dead, harry -- wrapped in plastic!"). My husband and I, who were a couple of years into being trapped at home by a combination of grad school poverty and a baby, sat riveted and were practically speechless when it finally did break for that first commercial. Then one of us (I honestly can't remember which) broke the stunned silence with "well, I'm hooked, how 'bout you? It was awesome.

    The DVD rumor mills had me expecting that the all the episodes (this time including the pilot -- sheesh!) would be released this year, but I haven't seen anything yet. Have you?

  10. Alice - I too have heard rumors that later this fall all the first season, including the pilot episode will be available.
    Right now only the first and second seasons MINUS the pilot are available are for sale, which is a true crime.
    I'll keep my Camera Obscura eyes peeled and as soon as I find out for sure, I'll let you know.
    Apparently, Lynch lost the rights to the pilot but he hopes to have it in his ownership soon.
    (Yest anotehr reason I have my pilot copy on VHS under lock and key!!)
    As of now, only Europe has the pilot ep for sale!!