Twin Peaks Season One

Twin Peaks is my favourite TV show of all time. Whilst I have been thrilled and riveted by the standards over the years (The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad), Twin Peaks has always been the reigning champion. Since I first saw it at age 11/12 or so (where it terrified me beyond belief – specifically BOB) it has occupied a special place in my heart. Since picking up the excellent Definitive Gold Box Set about 6 years ago, I’ve only watched it in its entirety once since then so the other night I decided a re-viewing was long over due, and before long series one was done.

A TV show is odd in that it does not get watched as much as, say, a favourite film. So it sits in the memory banks for a long time. This can sometimes lead to a mythologizing; you think somethings are better than they really are. Nostalgia has a way of doing that. However, to no surprise, I found Twin Peaks to be better than ever – like a fine wine it has aged well. It really is a remarkable show – it probably shouldn’t work – it’s a smorgasbord of very different styles and ideas. One thread is a truly dark and scare horror story of murder, possession, incest, rape and demonic forces. Another is pure soap opera – jealousy, adultery, revenge,plots – all soundtracked by swelling emotional piano cues. Then we have the apple-pie Americana, the smoky jazz, the teenage love. It has a plot which was clearly made up as they went along, with everything shot through with David Lynch’s surreal vision. It has a texture that no other TV show has ever come close to replicating.

One thing I noticed more this time around is the strength of the acting (and in contrast, the weakness of some of the acting). Case in point is the soap-opera stuff. A lot of it is fairly hokey, and its seemingly scripted as such (This tongue-in-cheek self awareness is also referenced by the soap-opera within-a-soap opera “Invitation to Love” which openly mocks the world it exists in, and at one point begins to directly mirror events in ‘the real world’). The soap element, however, sinks-or-swims depending on who is delivering it. The torrid love affair between Big Ed and Norma works well because the actors deliver it pitch perfect – a nice blend of honesty and schmaltz. Contrast to the horribly awkward and cringe inducing scenes between James and Donna. Sadly James Hurley takes his prize as easily the worst thing about the entire show, his clunky dialogue driven into the ground by acting more wooden then the ubiquitous Douglas Fir trees that fascinate Dale Cooper. (Although, I did note that in the opening episode of season two, James’ seems almost human – I wonder if this has anything to with being under the direction of Lynch for this episode?) And speaking of Special Agent Dale Cooper, it still makes me burst out laughing when Kyle McLachlan is in full goofy over exuberant mode. (Also, I forgot just how touching he is when Cooper gently lets down Audrey Horne in his room). Finally, a word for the wonderful occasional appearance of Miguel Ferrer as Special Agent Albert Rosenfield whose caustic putdowns of the rural lifestyle he encounters in Twin Peaks are some of the series’ funniest moments.

This time around I’m revelling more in the stuff that interested me the least last time. Of course Killer Bob, the Black Lodge, and all that are the dark diamonds at the core, but this time I’m revelling in the other layers that make up the show.

On to series two (which will definitely warrant another blog post).