Monday, September 20, 2010

Television Show Examination: Twin Peaks

Ah, Twin Peaks... I absolutely love Twin Peaks. Now, I understand, there are many things wrong with Twin Peaks... the second half of the second season for instance, but also the whole "soap opera-esque" essence of a good portion of the show. Some of the actors weren't all that good, especially those who played some of the more normal "villainous" characters like Leo Johnson and Ben Horne. I also have to give a special mention to James Hurley as one of my least favorite characters in anything. His whole storyline made me want to chew on bricks and then bash his character over the head with various cement objects.

All of that being said, I still love Twin Peaks. It is one of the strangest, most bizarre, and really thrilling television shows ever to hit the small screen. David Lynch, the creator of Twin Peaks, really knew what he was doing in this. After making Blue Velvet he made another small town America gone wrong kind of story out of Twin Peaks. Both even had the same actor starring, Kyle MacLachlan. There are similarities in both, but a ton of differences as well. I found Blue Velvet perfectly all right, but not amazing. there was very little that I found incredibly memorable. Twin Peaks on the other hand has a huge amount of memorable moments and lines and characters and everything.

I'm actually on the fence about Lynch as a director. I do like a lot of his films, but I also equally dislike a lot of them. Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire particularly earn my ire, but Lost Highway happens to be one of my favorite films of all time. Twin Peaks has a surreal quality to it that it is pure Lynch without going off the deep end of not making a lick of sense. Sure, there are some things that are very confusing, but most things make sense in the context of the world that the characters are in.

All of that being said, Twin Peaks is an exciting story with twists and turns along the way. It is a surreal and mature way to look at a young woman's murder in a small town. There are visceral acting performances by some of the actors in the series and one scene in the second season in which a fairly well-seen character up to that point was murdered was actually pretty terrible to watch. It felt like watching an acquaintance die in front of your face with no way to prevent it.

My favorite parts of the story-arc of the series was very obviously the main storyline and trying to find out who murdered Laura Palmer and why. The surreal nature was also astounding. How many other television shows or movies have the balls to show a surreal quality? And of course, that surreal nature of the show (and the second half of the second season) was the show's ultimate downfall. And that's just too bad. Intelligent series are hard enough to come by these days because of so many reasons. Executives at networks want mindless comedy or explosions, but very few shows will show real drama, real acting, real questions, or surreal or meta-examples of humor or drama... and that's terrible. It's terrible that a show like Twin Peaks airs only two seasons while an idiotic show with base humor and no intelligence at all will air for an indefinite amount of seasons. It make me wonder about humans and our own sad lazinesses, our indifferences to actually learning something, or thinking hard about a situation.

I'm going philosophical over this, but Twin Peaks deserves this kind of discussion. It deserved better than what it got. Then again, would the series have continued being ridiculous like in half of the second season, or would it have gotten better after the season (and series) finale that was easily one of the best episodes of the entire series? That seems to happen though. Even through a terrible season a good show can come back and be just as good as it ever was. The second season of Twin Peaks reminds me of an equally intelligent show (at least in its beginnings), Sliders, which fell apart in its third season to come back with a few very good episodes towards the end of that season. (Then it fell apart in seasons four and five, but that's another story.)

I guess Twin Peaks will always be something I enjoy, something that makes me angry because it was cancelled, but also something that makes me so happy because it existed at all. It really was a catalyst in my own writing and storytelling techniques, and Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) became one of my heroes in a way. His character was so weird, so confusing, but so focused and competent that it was hard not to look up to him. He was facing everything from weird dreams with backward-talking midgets, getting shot in the line of duty, love interests, giant men, all the way to an evil, chaotic spirit man named BOB. I mean, that doesn't even make sense, but it is awesome, every bit of it. The Red Room... Laura Palmer... all these things stick out in my mind along with other more humorous examples of things in the show like the following picture for instance: Yes, those are a bunch of donuts in front of an FBI special agent and a sheriff of a small town.

What other show could get away with that? None. Yeah, you heard me.

Anyway, it's a great show. Check it out sometime if you haven't, especially if you're into weird or surreal things, or just a person who likes a good story. Hell, if you like David Lynch check this out, and if you don't check it out anyway. It's not much like his other stuff in many ways. You'll be shocked by some of the scenes and some of what happens throughout the plot, but you'll also find solace in the fact that it all ends terribly. There is no happy ending here just like real life. People die, things happen, and the consequences of everything can be more outstanding than one could ever imagine. And if you don't care to see the series, then just go out and have a damn good cup of coffee. That will be enough to console me.

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